By Lenie Lectura – March 11, 2018
from Business Mirror
POWER retailer Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) has applied for a capital expenditure (capex) of about P21 billion for 2019.
“I think we filed for something in the order of about P20 [billion] to P21 billion. The capex for regulatory year 2019 is in the order of about P21 billion,” Meralco President Oscar Reyes said.
The amount P5.583 billion higher than the capex it applied for the 2017 regulatory year, will be spent mainly on enhancing the distribution network meant to handle the continued growth in electricity demand.
“It’s primarily for network requirements for load and customer growth because our number of customer base continues to increase and the demand continues to increase, as well, so we have to ensure that we have very resilient and hardened network,” Reyes said. “[By] hardened [we mean it to be] in order to be able to meet the changes in climate.”
He added Meralco’s capex is meant to “serve the customer load growth, resiliency, safety and robustness including hardening.”
Meralco’s capex for the third regulatory year of its fourth regulatory period amounting to P18.8 billion still awaits approval of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). The amount covers the period July 2017 to June 2018.
Capex in 2017 amounted to P12.1 billion, 5 percent higher compared with the previous year, with the partial approval by the ERC of P24.2 billion out of the total P33.1 billion filed by Meralco for the first regulatory year and second regulatory year of the fourth regulatory period in June and July 2016, respectively.
The utility firm continues to execute on the partial approved of capex, which allowed the addition of two new substations, expansion of three existing substations and construction of an additional 115 kilovolt (kV) line, among others.
More specifically, these completed capex projects include the new Lucena and Pulilan substations, the additional capacity in San Miguel, Balintawak and Veinte Reales substations, and the additional 115-kV line from Paco substation.
In addition, three other significant projects were completed. These were the replacement of the Malibay Power Transformer Bank (PTB) 1, the uprating of the 115-kV power circuit breakers at Balintawak and the replacement of the Urdeneta PTB 3, which was filed as an emergency capex with the ERC.
Reyes said the challenges faced by Meralco’s networks team include capex executions for system maintenance, load and customer growth, network and customer service upgrading, weather hardening and resiliency, safety and security, and automation.
Compounding these are the massive poles and facilities relocation work required by the Department of Public Works and Highways for road widening. A total of 1,771 electric poles affected by the DPWH projects were relocated last year.