SMC ventures into renewable energy

By Lenie Lectura – February 7, 2017

from Business Mirror

The power business of conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) is diversifying into renewable energy (RE) with a partner based in Asia.

SMC President and COO Ramon S. Ang said on Tuesday the conglomerate is embarking on a clean-energy program that would transform its SMC Global Power Holdings into a highly diversified energy company and help ramp up the country’s RE capacity.

“It’s about time we found a balance between promoting clean energy and securing the country’s energy needs without making consumers bear the cost of a punishing subsidy for years in favor of RE producers,” Ang said.

SMC, he said, has already shortlisted two Asian firms, one of which could be its strategic and technical partner on its green venture. Ang declined to reveal the identity of the prospective partner.

He said, though, that the company has formed a team that will conduct researches on, and develop solutions across, the clean-energy sector as it affects the consumers and the environment.

“We are challenging ourselves to be able to operate in the most environmentally responsible manner, while taking into consideration energy security and affordability to the consumers. Initiatives to achieve this objective are under way and I’m proud to say, we are making good headway,” Ang added.

SMC’s power plants mostly run on coal. SMC Global Power is currently the largest independent power producer in the country by installed capacity. The conglomerate’s plan to go into RE was welcomed by the Department of Energy.  “It’s good.

We welcome that for as long as they don’t ask for from feed-in-tariff [FiT],” Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said.

Ang said earlier his company is not after the FiT subsidy. “We will put up a power facility even without any FiT.” The country’s FiT system guarantees compensation for RE producers through a long-term fixed price over a 20-year spread, a subsidy that is shouldered by power consumers.

The Philippines has one of the highest electricity rates in Asia, and with subsidies to renewables through FiT, the rates become even more expensive.

“We have a responsibility as a major power producer to do our share in pushing for a sustainable clean-energy economy, but it has to be done in the most efficient way possible for the consumers. With critical mass and better technology, I believe we should be able to strike the perfect balance between renewable and non-renewable sources in terms of the country’s energy mix,” Ang said.