MANILA Electric Co. (Meralco) on Thursday said it is seeking bidders to participate in its competitive selection process (CSP) for the supply of 180-megawatt (MW) baseload power needed for the dry months.

Interested companies may express their intent until March 31, a week before the planned pre-bid conference. The bid submission is on May 4.

The company said it opened the bidding after the Energy department had approved the terms of reference for the procurement.

The contract period will be effective once the notice of award is issued and once approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission. It will run until July 25, 2022.

“Forming part of the 350-MW power requirement that Meralco needs to augment available supply during the summer months, this 180-MW supply is meant to cover for the output of plants that are affected by Malampaya facility’s continued inability to supply adequate natural gas fuel,” the company said.

In February, Meralco entered into a power supply agreement with San Miguel Corp.’s South Premiere Power Corp. for the initial 170-MW of peaking power supply, which is now pending approval from the energy regulator.

Earlier, the power distribution firm advised power users to conserve energy especially in dry months, which officially started on Wednesday as per the state weather bureau, wherein demand is higher by 40% historically.

According to grid operator National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, the 2022 forecast peak demand of 12,387 MW for Luzon will take place in the last week of May, higher by 747 MW than the actual 2021 peak of 11,640 MW, which occurred on May 28, 2021.

Meanwhile, demand in the Visayas grid is expected to peak at 2,528 MW, up from the 2,252-MW peak recorded on Dec. 13, 2021, while demand in the Mindanao grid is expected to peak at 2,223 MW, against the 2,144-MW peak on Aug. 4, 2021.

Meralco Vice-President and Head of Utility Economics Lawrence S. Fernandez warned that the impact of soaring pump prices caused by the Russia-Ukraine war will be felt by consumers in May.

“The past weeks, world crude oil prices are increasing [and] this will eventually be reflected on the cost of Malampaya natural gas and thereafter, on the generation cost,” he said.

For now, he said consumers would not feel the impact as the Malampaya price is being updated quarterly and will next be updated in April, but will be reflected in the May generation charge.

Meralco’s controlling stakeholder, Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc., is partly owned by PLDT, Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.

At the stock exchange, Meralco shares slipped P2 or 0.53% to close at P378 each. — Marielle C. Lucenio