Amid legal tussle, PECO proceeds to invest P1.1 billion
Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) - October 24, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Panay Electric Co. Inc. (PECO) is proceeding with its P1.1-billion investment to upgrade its network despite the legal tussle on the franchise for the distribution system in Iloilo City.

The company expects to spend P1.1 billion for the upgrade and expansion of its distribution network in the next 10 years, PECO head of public engagement and government affairs Marcelo Cacho said in a briefing yesterday.

Cacho said the investment would be used to upgrade to smart meters, put up new substations, and for other various line equipment.

The investment would address the projected increase in demand annually, wherein peak demand is expected to reach 180 megawatts in 2029 from 123 MW in May this year.

Of the total cost, the biggest investment would go to the Megaworld substation (P135 million) followed by the Gaisano and Western Land substation, estimated to cost P70-80 million.

Another major project is the upgrade of all customers to smart meters in the next five years.

“We’re expecting an investment of close to P200 million to P500 million. We already have an application with the ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission),” Cacho said.

Under the smart metering project, benefits to the customers include prepaid metering, real-time wireless meter reading, automatic disconnection and reconnection, and an overall lowering of rates due to customer load profiling.

“Smart metering also empowers the customers through an online web portal where they can see their meter readings real-time, with meter reading updates every 15 minutes, we are now testing the online portal which will be launched next year” Cacho said.

So far, some 2,000 smart meters have already been installed and another 2,000 will be delivered within the year.

PECO said it is also on board with the Department of Energy’s (DOE) smart grid project.

“A smart grid is an electric system enhanced with innovative digital technologies that detect problems in the system and initiate self-healing processes,” Cacho said.

“With the smart grid, consumers can experience improved reliability, better service, and greater control over their energy use.”

PECO has also introduced net metering, wherein consumers can install solar panel systems in their homes and supply excess electricity back to the distribution utility firm, which will then be credited to their regular electricity bill.

“Our net metering system further gives our consumers the power of choice, because now they can choose to generate their own electricity and save money in the process,” Cacho said.

PECO’s franchise expired last Jan. 19 and was not extended by Congress, which granted Razon-led MORE Electric and Power Corp. to operate power distribution services in Iloilo City.

To ensure continued power service in the franchise area, the Department of Energy (DOE) and ERC agreed to allow PECO to continue operating until MORE Electric takes over and expropriates the existing assets.

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