By Victor V. Saulon, Sub-Editor

PANAY ELECTRIC Co., Inc. (PECO) is allocating about P1.1 billion in the next 10 years to upgrade and expand its existing facilities, including the construction of new substations and the replacement of its meters with “smart” ones, a company official said.

“One of the issues we see with Iloilo is that in 10 years time, we’re gonna get 180 megawatts (MW). So to source that supply, you’re really going to have to have creative solutions,” Marcelo U. Cacho, PECO head of public engagement and government affairs, said in a briefing on Wednesday in Taguig City.

PECO has embarked on four solutions, namely retail electricity supply, net metering, “pasa kuryente” that allows the transfer of a consumer’s excess capacity, and lease-to-own solar energy systems.

Mr. Cacho, a fifth-generation member in the family business, said the company has also launched its smart metering project, which allows prepaid metering, real-time wireless meter reading, automatic disconnection and reconnection. Smart meters also lower the rates due to customer load profiling, he said.

“We’re expecting an investment of close to P205 million for the smart meters,” he said of the capital expenditure in the next five years or until 2024.

“Then of course, there’s an opex (operating expense) component. So the opex component we can estimate between P10-P20 million,” he said.

At present, the company has a total customer count of 64,000, Mr. Cacho said, translating to a peak demand of 123 MW, which is reached during the month of May.

The company has so far installed 2,000 smart meters and another 2,000 will be delivered within the year.

On net metering, a program that allows customers with their own power generation systems to sell their excess capacity, PECO takes the energy thrown back by its customers’ solar energy systems and credited to their regular electricity bill.

“Our net metering system further gives our consumers the power of choice, because now they can choose to generate their own electricity and save money in the process,” Mr. Cacho said.

“Pasa-kuryente” service allows solar panel owners to pass on to other consumers any excess power their system has generated.

“These are just some of the initiatives that PECO has done for the Ilonggos,” Mr. Cacho said. “But we’re not stopping there, because we believe that the people of Iloilo deserves a dynamic kind of service that is improved and enhanced as the years go by.”

Iloilo-based PECO claims to be the first 100% Filipino-owned private enterprise and the leading energy innovator in the Visayas. The distribution utility has been serving Iloilo for the past 95 years.