By Romsanne R. Ortiguero
A wholly-owned subsidiary of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), the largest electric distribution utility in the Philippines, Meralco PowerGen Corporation (MGen) was incorporated in 2010 with the aim to ensure adequate, reliable and cost-competitive supply for electricity consumers.
MGen’s plans are centered around state-of-the-art power generation projects, using pioneering high efficiency, low emission (HELE) technology.
The company is building the country’s first 455-MW supercritical coal-fired power project in Mauban, Quezon through San Buenaventura Power Ltd. Co., its joint venture with Thailand’s Electricity Generating Company.
MGen, through Atimonan One Energy, Inc., will also build a bigger 1200-MW plant in Atimonan, Quezon. The ultra supercritical coal plant will be the first of its kind in the Philippines and will be the most efficient when it starts commercial operations.
“We’re not just doing conventional coal plants. What MGen has decided is to go into what we refer to as high efficiency, low emission technology. If you will compare the plants we have in mind in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, we’re much, much lower than all existing plants in the country,” Rogelio L. Singson, MGen president and chief executive officer, told BusinessWorld in an interview.
“With these plants, you’re able to generate more power with less fuel input, therefore, less emission,” added Mr. Singson, underscoring that as a responsible power company, MGen is observing strong environmental stewardship and strictly complies with the local and international environmental standards.
Amid concerns on climate change, MGen aims to set an example that will demonstrate that the Philippines does not have to choose between affordable and reliable electricity or a cleaner environment.
Mr. Singson emphasized that MGen is also considering major renewable energy projects to have a diversified power generation portfolio.
“We also have to understand that climate change is real so we have to start looking into low emissions and more efficient renewables,” he said.
As of now, according to Mr. Singson, MGen is looking at developments and trends in renewable energy sector, including solar and battery storage, hydropower and wind.
“We’re seriously looking in what way we can play a major role in the renewables market. At the end of the day, we cannot be dependent on one fuel source. We’ve seen the predictions — renewables could potentially eat up to 35% of the Meralco market,” Mr. Singson said.
He added: “Do we allow other players to disrupt or do we also join the disruption? And the decision is we will get involved.”
While MGen has a lineup of promising projects to build and operate power plants, the company is also facing challenges when it comes to the approval of its power supply agreements (PSA), which is a requirement before the company starts construction of its power plants.
“The biggest challenge facing MGen at the moment is the delay in the approval of its PSAs by the Energy Regulatory Commission. The delay in PSA approval is preventing the company from constructing these vital infrastructure projects that are needed to secure the country’s power supply in the next four to five years,” Mr. Singson said.
But despite the challenge, MGen remains committed in building power plants that will support the country’s growth trajectory.
It aspires to set a standard of excellence not only in power plant operations but also in developing and engaging host communities to make them progressive and sustainable.
“MGen is committed to the development of power projects and the transformation of our host communities into progressive, sustainable and smart communities,” Mr. Singson said.
For the town of Atimonan, for instance, the company already engaged a third-party urban planning expert to develop a Comprehensive Land Use Plan that will prepare the municipality in handling and utilizing the financial resources that it will get from the project.
“Where we are, the community should develop with us. It’s really to transform the community hosting the plant,” Mr. Singson added, sharing the company’s vision under his new leadership
“As we work on this, MGen will continue driving the development advanced power projects to completion and commercial operations, to further boost available supply in the country.”