By  Danessa Rivera | The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Manila Electric Co.  is eyeing  3,000 megawatts (MW) in capacity as part of its growth strategy for power generating unit Meralco Powergen Corp. (MGen).

“We are targeting around 3,000 MW in the next five years, with 1,000 MW allocated entirely to renewable energy projects,” Meralco president and CEO Ray Espinosa said during the company’s virtual stockholders’ meeting yesterday.

Espinosa said the power generation portfolio would complement the company’s distribution business.

“Building Meralco’s power distribution portfolio remains a highly strategic initiative of our company as we seek to add much needed reliable, and efficient power supply to support the Philippines’ growth momentum,” Espinosa said in the firm’s annual report.

Of the total target generation capacity, 1,000 MW will be carved out for renewable energy as Meralco weans itself “out of fossil fuels to renewable energy sources”.

Meralco started its aggressive expansion into the renewable energy space last year with the establishment of MGen’s subsidiary MGEN Renewable Energy Inc. (MGreen).

MGreen would serve as the platform for the strategic push to develop renewable energy projects—primarily solar, wind and run-of-river hydro—to help ensure the availability of clean and green power supply in the coming years.

“We have also begun an important energy transition via MGreen which aims to build up to 1,000 MW of renewable energy projects in the next five to seven years,” Espinosa said.

MGen is working on two solar farms in Bulacan and Tarlac, which have a combined capacity of 135 MW.

These projects, however, hit a snag amid the coronavirus pandemic since the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor and solar panels are from China.

MGen suspended all site activities in its projects last March 18 in line with President Duterte’s community quarantine order  in Luzon.

So far, it has resumed partial work on the Bulacan solar project, which is under PowerSource First Bulacan Solar Inc. (PFBSI), in which MGreen has a 40 percent stake.

“Looking ahead, MGen is preparing for the launch and commercial operations of another highly efficient, supercritical power plant, the 2×600-MW Atimonan One Energy,” Espinosa said.

The 1,200-MW A1E ultra supercritical coal-fired power plant—located in Atimonan, Quezon—now has a total project cost of P160 billion. It is now awaiting the final terms of reference and will participate in Meralco’s competitive selection process (CSP).