MANILA Electric Co. (Meralco) targets to build more fully automated substations next year ahead of the expected increase in the demand for power, adding to the distribution utility’s investments in technologically advanced facilities within its franchise area.

Company officials disclosed these plans during the inauguration of the company’s substation at Bridgetowne, a township development of Robinsons Land Corp. (RLC) in the cities of Quezon and Pasig.

Ronnie L. Aperocho, Meralco senior vice-president and head of networks, told reporters the cost of the new substation would ultimately reach P1 billion when two more transformers are installed.

“For now, dahil isang transformer pa lang, ang budget dito is around P550 to P600 million (For now, because only one transformer was installed, the budget is around P550 to P600 million),” he said.

Mr. Aperocho said the future substations will be at Eton Centris in Quezon City at a budget of P532 million; Net Park at P478 million in Taguig City; and Escoda St. in Manila at P500 million.

Another facility will also be built in Arca South, he said.

Kung magawa namin lahat next year the better kasi talagang need na sa system (If we can complete these next year the better because they are needed in the system),” he said.

Mr. Aperocho said the Bridgetowne substation would improve the dependability and reliability of electricity service in the township and the surrounding growth areas, as it relieves expected critical loading of nearby Hillcrest, Cainta, and SM Shangri-La substations.

Meralco said the new substation at Bridgetowne is part of its roadmap to ensure adequate and reliable power supply for the growing needs of the locators within the 31-hectare project.

The township will have residential condominiums, office buildings, shopping centers, a five-star hotel, as well as parks, a school, a hospital and public art installation.

In a statement issued during the inauguration, RLC President and Chief Executive Officer Frederick D. Go said: “Our vision for Bridgetowne is to increase job opportunities and progress in Quezon City, Pasig, and the immediate communities.”

“And the fastest way to bring this vision to reality — for all our locators, and those residing and working in the area — is to collaborate with entities, such as Meralco, who share this vision with us,” he added.

Meralco’s 115-kV (kilovolt) to 34.-kV facility, with an initial capacity of 83 mega volt-ampere, is in a 1,293-square meter parcel of land provided by RLC through a collaborative real estate arrangement. It said residential communities in the area will also benefit from the Bridgetowne substation.

The utility said proximity to a substation improves power reliability and dependability, making it more enticing for businesses and business process outsourcing firms to move their office spaces into Bridgetowne.

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