Meralco suits up for renewable energy venture

by Lenie Lectura – November 23, 2015

from Business Mirror

THE Manila Electric Co.’s (Meralco) impending entry in renewable energy (RE) could lead to possible partnerships with local and foreign entities already involved in the RE space.

“Given the global developments on RE, and especially solar, Meralco is interested in exploring partnerships with local and global players,” Meralco Senior Vice President for Customer Retail Services Alfredo Panlilio said.

“We think that the RE space will grow, and we want to be part of that growth,” Panlilio added without saying who the possible entities are.

Renewable source of power include solar, wind, biomass, ocean, geothermal and run-of-river hydro. Meralco’s immediate interest is in solar. “We are eager to get into solar, but with an electrical engineer’s eye out for ensuring the continued safe and reliable operation of the distribution grid,” Panlilio said.

Meralco Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan has said that his group will establish a new unit that would solely focus on RE.

“Pretty soon. I will say toward the end of the year,” he said. “We are looking at solar, not just utility grade solar but we will start probably with rooftops. So, for that business, we need to have a separate subsidiary and separate management.”

In preparation for this, Meralco is constructing a research and development and technical-training facility that will be called Meralco Power Tech, a two-story structure that will be powered by solar and wind.

The facility, which will feature the use of Smart Grid, is worth P150 million.

Aside from solar panels, Pangilinan said his group is also eyeing in venturing into battery storage.

“Eventually, that will be part because you have to store the power. We will just install the solar panels first,” he said.

Pangilinan added that Meralco is mindful of the technological development capable of disrupting Meralco’s business model.

“I think the fact that Meralco will enter the solar market signifies that we will disrupt. We think it as a future threat. So, we will be the first to disrupt ourselves because if we don’t do it, others will do it for us. So, rather than have somebody kill us, we might as well kill ourselves because it will be more fun,” he said.

Nonetheless, Pangilinan said these developments will translate to shifts in the energy mix with growing penetration of renewables potentially at grid parity. “They will also lead to new ways of defining the quality of services, and of creating value for the customer, enabled by a smart or smartrer grid,” Pangilinan added.