Lighting the path toward long-term energy stability

Z-FACTOR - Joe Zaldarriaga - The Philippine Star

In discussions of economic development, energy security often finds itself relegated on the sidelines behind infrastructure, agriculture and education.

However, in our highly interconnected world, the significance of reliable electricity service cannot be overstated. It is crucial for economic growth and the overall quality of life of citizens.

Recent events have underscored this stark reality as the country’s power grids across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao struggled with increased demand, driven by an unprecedented heat indexes. The ensuing series of yellow and red alerts highlighted the urgent need for more investments in the development of new power plants.

Investing in the energy sector, however, is a complex endeavor. Unlike other industries, it demands far more substantial capital investment, requirements completion and the ability to navigate extensive regulations. Consequently, long-term stability becomes a crucial consideration for potential investors.

Thankfully, lawmakers like Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, and Marinduque Lone District Rep. Lord Allan Velasco recognize the crucial role of energy security in advancing our country’s progress.

Recently, these three lawmakers emphasized the critical need for strong and robust government support to ensure power companies like Meralco can operate consistently and effectively – which is essential for providing stable and reliable electricity.

They have all strongly advocated for the renewal of Meralco’s franchise, underscoring its crucial role in maintaining the momentum of economic growth. Meralco’s franchise spans Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and parts of Pampanga, Laguna, Batangas, and Quezon, encompassing key political and economic hubs essential to the nation’s prosperity.

In a recent statement, Rep. Salceda highlighted the fact that Meralco outperforms other electric cooperatives and distribution utilities in the Philippines, thanks to the company’s substantial investments in service quality. According to Salceda, to sustain this high level of reliability, Meralco must retain its legislative franchise.

“Meralco provides the most reliable service among all major electric cooperatives and distribution utilities (ECDUs), with outages suffered by the average consumer totaling to mere minutes in an entire year, versus days or weeks’ worth of blackouts for other neighboring ECDUs,” Rep. Salceda, who chairs the House committee on ways and means, said.

Rep. Rodriguez, who chairs the House committee on constitutional amendments, pointed out that areas powered by Meralco have seen rapid economic growth. He stressed that sustaining this growth is crucial for the nation’s economic trajectory.

Rep. Rodriguez,  chair of the House committee on constitutional amendments and vice chair of the House committee on trade and industry, emphasized that Meralco noted the sustained level of service compared to other electric cooperatives and distribution utilities, consistently meeting the needs of its customers.

“Meralco-powered areas have demonstrated rapid economic growth in the past decades compared to those serviced by electric cooperatives. On this basis alone, it is imperative for the government to sustain this development in support of our economic trajectory,” he said.

Rep. Velasco, chairman of the House committee on energy, echoed sentiments of Rep. Salceda and Rep. Rufus, praising Meralco’s “world-class” at “fair and reasonable prices”.

“Among all the distribution utilities and power cooperatives here in the country, Meralco provides the most reliable electricity service – one that I dare say has been instrumental in driving the economic growth of our country,” Velasco stated in the explanatory note of his bill proposing the grant of a new legislative franchise for Meralco.

Furthermore, additional lawmakers, including Reps. Sergio Dagooc and Presley de Jesus, have aligned themselves with the push for the renewal of Meralco franchise. Recent reports from the latest congressional hearing showed their recognition of Meralco’s dedication to providing reliable electricity, highlighting its significance to consumers.

Rep. Dagooc oversees electric cooperatives in Mindanao, manifested in the hearing that he would “vote for the approval” of Meralco’s franchise renewal, reiterating his position on issues that were clarified by Meralco. Rep. De Jesus said he would also join Dagooc in voting in the affirmative for the franchise renewal, adding that he recognizes that “Meralco is reliable and dependable” and has consistently delivered benefits to many Filipino consumers.

From the congressmen’s statements, it is evident that Meralco’s exemplary electricity service is a result of extensive capital investment in its operations. Achieving this level of excellence requires years of dedicated effort and substantial investment. This underscores the importance for potential investors to seek a strong commitment from the government – a commitment to consistency, assurance that policies will not change arbitrarily, and recognition that their investments are highly valued.

Long-term stability in the energy industry benefits more than just uninterrupted electricity service; it drives progress by spurring business activity, improving industrial productivity, boosting international competitiveness, and enhancing the overall quality of life for Filipinos.

As we strive to accelerate economic development, it is imperative to foster long-term stability in the energy sector. Supporting reliable power companies like Meralco will not only sustain economic growth but also propel our nation towards greater progress and prosperity for all.

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