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Meralco sets aside P2.34 billion for expansion projects

Danessa Rivera - The Philippine Star
Meralco sets aside P2.34 billion for expansion projects
Workers from the Manila Electric Company installed a electric meter on top of the electric post along Commonwealth avenue in Quezon City on August 9, 2021.
STAR / Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) plans to spend over P2 billion to implement expansion projects while relocating its facilities affected by government projects under the Build Build Build (BBB) program.

Meralco is asking the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to approve its P2.34-billion capital expenditure (capex) program for the expansion projects of its distribution system.

Broken down, the power distributor is planning to spend P502.13 million for projects aligned with the PNR North 1 (Tutuban-Malolos), P127.46 million for projects aligned with the PNR North 2 (Malolos-Clark), P421.02 million for projects aligned with the PNR South Commuter (Solis-Calamba), and P1.29 million for project aligned with the PNR South Long Haul (Manila-Sorsogon, Batangas).

Meralco said these projects “must be implemented together with the relocation of the affected facilities to be able to take full advantage of the excavation activities that already include the civil works needed for reliability and future load growth requirements of Meralco.”

These projects were previously disapproved by the ERC due to absence of cost data and other details.

In its previous application, Meralco was seeking regulatory approval for the expansion projects it can implement alongside the relocation of affected facilities worth P4.24 billion.

But in denying its application, the ERC directed the power distributor to re-file the capex projects.

“While the Meralco projects were initially disapproved in the decision, the commission saw the importance of the projects in addressing the identified issues, based on the assessment of the necessity of the projects in the distribution system,” Meralco said.

The power distributor said these projects need to be simultaneously implemented with its relocation projects, which the ERC previously disapproved, to avert unnecessary but potential consequences.

One of the consequences it cited is it may no longer be able to secure rights-of-way (ROW) and work permits from PNR if it defers the  implementation of its reliability and load growth requirements after the railway system is already operational, causing disruption in the operations of the railway project, and the non-approval of excavations near the project.

Meralco will also incur additional costs due to the separate mobilization/demobilization activities, separate staging (manholes, pedestals), longer horizontal direction drilling (HDD) length to clear from existing underground facilities (UG), etc., when the railway system is already operational.

If the projects are also not implemented, the company warned of multiple planned power interruptions due to construction of additional underground civil works that will affect existing overhead facilities.

It also cited inconveniences to the general public due to road closure, traffic congestion and minimize impact to other public utilities such as water lines, telecoms, cable services.

Lastly, if these civil works projects are not implemented, it could cause delay in the implementation of system requirement projects intended to improve the reliability of the distribution system for the benefit of the customers as well as the connection of new customer applications in the affected areas.

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