TARLAC ELECTRIC, Inc. has secured regulatory approval for its 2019 to 2020 capital expenditure (capex) program for projects amounting to P300.96 million, or lower than the distribution utility’s proposed cost.

In a decision published on its website on March 2, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) said that the approved amount covered the upgrading of the Maliwalo substation; and upgrading of the full supervisory control and data acquisition systems in six areas.

The capex also covered the construction of communication towers for the utility’s offices and substations; acquisition of extra servers and storage systems for its network; acquisition of additional cyber security and threat protection project and purchase of service vehicles.

Tarlac Electric previously asked the ERC to approve P304.10 million to fund its various capex projects. The commission approved a lower amount based on its own calculations of the company’s capex projects.

Based on the approved project costs, the ERC directed Tarlac Electric to pay around P2.26 million in permit fees.

The decision was signed by ERC Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer Agnes VST Devanadera and two commissioners on Dec. 16, 2020. The decision was promulgated on Tuesday.

On Nov. 20, 2020, Tarlac Electric said that it was looking to raise P603.75 million in a public offering to comply with requirements under its legislative franchise. The firm earlier said in a prospectus that it wanted to register four million issued and outstanding common shares, from which it will offer 1.75 million shares at P345 apiece.

Tarlac Electric is a private electric distribution utility that has been supplying electric power to residentials and commercial establishments for over 70 years. In 2018, it reported a peak demand of 79,900 kilowatt, and a customer base of about 80,000.

Distribution utilities are obliged to provide services and connections to customers within their franchise area. They must upgrade and expand their facilities to meet growing customer demand. The ERC ensures that the pass-through costs sought by utilities are justified. — Angelica Y. Yang