MANILA ELECTRIC Co. (Meralco) is studying the viability of putting up microgrid systems in popular tourist destinations outside its franchise area and replicate the hybrid energy system it is installing on Cagbalete Island in Quezon province.
“Ayala has been approaching us for their resorts,” Alfredo S. Panlilio, Meralco senior vice-president, told reporters. “They’re asking us to look at Lio resort. They also want us to look at Sicogon.”
He was referring to Lio Tourism Estate, a project being developed by Ayala Land, Inc.’s (ALI) subsidiary Ten Knots Philippines, Inc. in El Nido, Palawan, and ALI’s tourism estate Sicogon Island in northern Iloilo.
Mr. Panlilio said the discussions with ALI are at an “early stage.”
“Without looking at numbers yet, I would think they’re bigger than Cagbalete,” he said.
Meralco is doing surveys to assess the resorts’ power requirement and the size of the distribution system.
“They just shared with us the plan. They’re asking us whether we could have a solution for them,” said Mr. Panlilio, who is also the power distribution utility’s head of customer retail services and corporate communications.
“[The projects] might be at least parang (like) Cagbalete. These are prime areas for resorts,” he added.
Meralco is keen on acquiring a congressional franchise to put up microgrid systems, which Mr. Panlilio said should be open to all should there be one granted to a specific entity. But for now, he said the distribution utility would rather work with the existing electric cooperatives in the area.
“We already have a hybrid solution, solar panels, with batteries and gensets (power generation sets). I think it’s a very good solution to address the requirements of Cagbalete,” Mr. Panlilio said.
When fully rolled out, the Cagbalete hybrid solution will have a ground-mounted solar photovoltaic capacity of 2.5 megawatt-peak, a battery energy storage system capacity of 4.2 MW-hour, diesel generator sets of 1.9 MW.
The project will be done in phases and will serve about 600 households and at least 10 resorts until 2024. The commercial operation date of the initial phase is by yearend.
Mr. Panlilio said Meralco is set to apply with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for the capital expenditure and electricity rates to reflect the funding outlay in Cagbalete.
“It’s much cheaper than what they (customers) are paying,” he said, about the power rate to be applied for. “I think they are paying between P35 to P40 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). [Ours] I think is a range of about P20-P22 per kWh.”
Mr. Panlilio said eventually when battery systems become cheaper, the company might be able to phase out the diesel-fired gensets.
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 interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Victor V. Saulon