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Meralco eyes nuclear power over long term

() - November 5, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the country’s biggest power distributor, is looking at nuclear energy as a possible power source over the long term in line with the company’s bid to return to po-wer generation, its top executive said yesterday.

Meralco president Manuel Pangilinan said aside from coal and gas, they are also eyeing nuclear power as a potential source but in the meantime, he emphasized that their priority is addressing the current power shortage.

“That might also include using power barges,” he said.

Meralco is set to pursue investments in power generation to tap more cost-effective sources of power, the top company official said.

Also yesterday, Pangilinan revealed that the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) Group, which he chairs, has no plans of increasing the 20 percent cap it has put on its investments in Meralco.

“For now, we intend to keep it at 20 percent,” he said, adding that on hindsight, they should have invested more in Meralco and have proven critics wrong.

He pointed out that it is the purity of being a telecommunications company that some PLDT investors wanted the company to maintain. “But we have been proven right that we have made the right investment,” he said.

Meralco’s core income guidance number for 2010 has increased to P11.5 billion from P11 billion.

For the first nine months of the year, its core net income reached P9.2 billion, 80 percent higher than that of the same pe-riod last year, while reported net income was at P8 billion, a 61-percent growth.

Consolidated service revenues during the period increased 32 percent to P188.9 billion as a result of an 11 percent growth in energy sales, an increase in customer count, higher average purchased power and transmission pass-through costs, and distribution rate adjustments.

In an earlier briefing, Meralco chief finance officer Betty C. Siy-Yap said more energy was sold during the period due to warmer temperatures as well as higher demand from the commercial and industrial customers, reflecting the improvement in economic activity.

According to Yap, the total volume of energy sold in the first three quarters of the year rose 11 percent to 22,660 gigawatt-hours compared with the same period in 2009.

The higher power consumption she said, was triggered by robust economic growth spurred partly by strong consumer demand and renewed business confidence. The effect of slightly longer billing days and warmer temperatures, which increased use of air conditioners, also helped push up demand.

Also, the financial performance in the first nine months was further boosted by the three percent increase in billed customers to 4.8 million, as well as the distribution rate adjustments approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), which in turn boosted consolidated electricity revenue, Yap added.

BETTY C BILLION ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION MANILA ELECTRIC CO MANUEL PANGILINAN MERALCO PANGILINAN PHILIPPINE LONG DISTANCE TELEPHONE CO POWER SIY-YAP
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