By Lenie Lectura | Business Mirror

 

MURANG Kuryente Partylist (MKP) wants the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) to abandon its coal- power plant projects and instead shift to developing renewable-energy (RE) sources.

“Renewable energy is safer, more affordable and more sustainable than coal, and it is welcome to hear Meralco say they are committing to it. But we don’t want RE to be a token PR project of the company. Meralco should abandon all its coal-fired power plant projects and completely embrace RE,” Murang Kuryente Spokeman Gerry Arances saide in a statement.

Meralco said the other day that it plans to develop 1,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable-energy projects in the next seven years.

“As the biggest distribution utility in the country, on top of its own power-generation projects, Meralco is in a position to change the energy mix of the Philippines on its own. We hope this change can be manifested in concrete solutions such as shutting down its Atimonan coal project instead of using RE just for PR purposes,” Arances said.

Meralco Powergen Corp. (MGen), the power-generation subsidiary of Meralco, is building a 1,200-MW coal-fired power plant in Atimonan, Quezon. The power project has yet to take off pending the conduct of a competitive selection process (CSP).

“In fact, their Atimonan project alone already exceeds their planned investment in RE for the next seven years. Why does RE have to wait for so long to get the same generating capacity as Meralco’s coal projects?” Arances asked.

Coal is currently the biggest provider of fuel for power plants in the Philippines, accounting for more than a third of the installed capacity in the country, with more coal-fired power plants planned for construction.

When sought for comment, Meralco said baseload power sources complement RE. “Obviously, some people can’t distinguish between baseload for 24×7 supply and intermittent power supply availability of renewables. Our argument is we need baseload plant from cheapest source, which is coal, but using ‘high efficiency, low emission’ [Hele] to be able to decommission the old and inefficient coal plants, which are on extended life,” MGen President Rogelio Singson said in a text message.

“Ray Espinosa, Meralco president, and I are advocates of renewable power, but RE cannot provide the required 24×7 reliability and competitively priced, which Meralco is committed to provide its 6.7 million customer accounts. This is the mandate of our Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan to both Espinosa and myself for MGen to be a major player in RE power supply,” Singson said.

The utility firm is also committed to developing large-scale RE projects that can deliver competitive electricity for its customers, without any requirement for subsidy or support, while keeping environmental stewardship and sustainability as top priorities in its business.

These new RE projects will be housed under a new firm called MGen Renewable Energy Inc. (MGreen). Officials said MGreen aims to bring in additional supply to support the Philippines’s growth momentum and help ensure availability of green and cost-competitive power supply in the coming years.

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