By Myrna M. Velasco | Manila Bulletin

 

Power utility giant Manila Electric Company (Meralco) is stepping up investments in renewable energy (RE) capacity with installation rollout of 1,000 megawatts (MW) in the next 5-7 years.

For its jumpstart point, the utility firm set up subsidiary corporate vehicle MGEN Renewable Energy, Inc. (MGreen), which will also be affiliated with its power generation arm Meralco PowerGen (MGen).

The company has not given breakdown yet on capacity installations per technology, albeit it indicated that it will be a combination of wind, solar and run-of-river hydropower facilities.

The company timed its RE investments announcement with the celebration of World Environment Day, which according to Meralco President and CEO Ray C. Espinosa will be the company’s step at “joining the inexorable shift to renewable energy and the adoption of sustainable practices in everything we do.”

He qualified that “Meralco is committed to developing large-scale RE projects that can deliver competitive electricity for our customers – without requirement for subsidy or support.”

Espinosa emphasized this is also the power utility firm’s way of pursuing “environmental stewardship and sustainability as top priorities in our business.”

The RE capacity build-up will be most critical at this point as the government enforces the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) policy which requires distribution utilities to procure certain percentage of their supply from RE plants.

In the past two years, the company has been casting several RE projects on blueprint – but at this stage, company executives expect that these could finally take off from the drawing board.

“We are working on several renewable energy prospects and we recognize the significant reduction in the development cost, particularly for large-scale solar and wind over the past years,” MGen President and CEO Rogelio L. Singson said.

He asserted that “notwithstanding the ongoing requirement for new reliable baseload generation to support the fast-growing Philippine economy, we believe that the time is right to focus on building our green energy capacity and we intend to be a key player in this expanding sector.”

The Meralco executive added the MGen RE subsidiary “will continue working on the realization of our project opportunities, and will work in partnership with established developers to maximize our growth potential.

Meralco executives emphasized that while they pursue these RE-underpinned ventures, the company will also continue with other blueprinted projects, including high efficiency, low emissions (HELE) coal-fired facilities which would satiate the country’s need for baseload capacity over the long term.

Investments in the power sector will be re-ignited to be the “game in town” as the country is on the brink of a crisis situation warranting the immediate need for capacity additions.