Manny V. Pangilinan has ever been the face of energy in recent Philippine memory. With good reason, with him chairing the most important energy company in the country.

The Manila Electric Company, otherwise known as Meralco, is the only distributor of electric power in Metro Manila. Meralco’s reach even extends to the power distribution franchise it has for 22 cities and 89 municipalities, including the whole of the National Capital Region and the exurbs that form Mega Manila.

In fact, Meralco has been serving the residents of Manila more than a hundred years ago, back when it was first originally called the Manila Electric Railroad And Light Company. The company’s storied history saw it build its foundations at the hands of the American occupation, survive World War II and the Japanese takeover, and rise into what it is today.

Meralco is now the largest private sector electric distribution utility company in the Philippines covering 36 cities and 75 municipalities, serving over 6.6 million customers. Its franchise area of over 9,685 sq. km. includes the country’s industrial, commercial, and population centers. At year-end 2018, it recorded a market capitalization of P428.3 billion (US$8.1 billion).

For the full-year 2018, core net income for the company rose 10.9% to P22.41 billion from P20.21 billion previously, driven by the 5% increase in volume of energy distributed, higher financing income from the funds deployed due to the improved yields, recognition of service fees, among others.

In part, Meralco has managed to sustain its upward momentum through continued evolution and adaptation to the changing times.

Mr. Pangilinan said of the company’s guiding principles, “If change for Meralco has been the hallmark these past 25 years, more of it will come to define our future.”

One example is Meralco’s recent announcement significantly expanding its plans to invest in renewable energy projects in the coming years. The company pledged a commitment to developing 1,000 MW of renewable energy projects in the next 5-7 years, “joining the inexorable shift to renewable energy and the adoption of sustainable practices in everything we do,” recently appointed Meralco President and CEO Atty. Ray C. Espinosa said.

“Meralco is committed to developing large-scale renewable energy projects that can deliver competitive electricity for our customers, without any requirement for subsidy or support, while keeping environmental stewardship and sustainability as top priorities in our business,” Atty. Espinosa added.

As part of this plan, MGEN Renewable Energy, Inc. (MGreen) has been established to serve as the platform for the strategic push to develop renewable energy projects, primarily solar, wind and run-of-river hydro. The new company aims to bring in additional supply to support the Philippines’ growth momentum and help ensure the availability of green and cost-competitive power supply in the coming years.

MGreen is a wholly owned subsidiary of Meralco PowerGen Corporation (MGen), which in turn is the power generation arm of Meralco.

“We are working on several renewable energy prospects and we recognize the significant reduction in the development cost, particularly for large-scale solar and wind over the past years. Notwithstanding the ongoing requirement for new reliable baseload generation to support the fast-growing Philippine economy, we believe that the time is right to focus on building our green energy capacity and we intend to be a key player in this expanding sector,” MGen President and CEO Rogelio L. Singson said.

“MGen, through MGreen, will continue working on the realization of our project opportunities, and will work in partnership with established developers to maximize our growth potential,” he added.

Mr. Singson further said that the plan is aligned with MGen’s growth aspirations, which are focused on advancing renewable energy prospects and utilization of high efficiency, low emission (HELE) technology for baseload power plants.

“We will continue to work with the energy industry, government and other stakeholders to serve the country’s energy needs while ever mindful of our greater responsibility to society and the planet,” Mr. Singson said.

As the world shifts away from conventional power sources in favor of cleaner, sustainable, and more environmentally-friendly alternatives, Meralco and MGen’s initiatives pursuing the development of renewable energy sources will put the country in a position of opportunity. As Meralco evolves to meet the needs of the future, so will the Philippines. — Bjorn Biel M. Beltran