Hitting the ‘reset’ button towards a brighter, greener future


The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded everyone that reliable and uninterrupted energy supply is critical to managing the crisis. For Meralco, this means that there can be no return to a business-as-usual mindset.

"In order for us to bounce back, we simply cannot afford to return to business as usual and continue to pursue a high carbon, unsustainable growth template. Rather, a global recovery measure should target a green and resilient future," said Ferdinand O. Geluz, Meralco First Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer.

Last year, Meralco pledged to source 1,500 megawatts of its power requirements for the next five years from renewable energy sources. It also committed to building renewable sources through the most advanced and cleanest technologies, one of which is BulacanSol. The 50-megawatt power plant, located in San Miguel, Bulacan, aims to provide clean and renewable energy to the Luzon grid.

In an effort to promote the reduction of greenhouse gases by using less diesel and gas, the energy distributor commissioned 121 electric vehicles—59 of which are already in use—and set up charging facilities for these.

Come October, Meralco will be using natural ester oil, which is 99% recyclable and biodegradable, in its distribution transformers.

Meralco is not alone in its quest for a more sustainable future.

The way forward for businesses, said Regis Partners Inc. chief strategist and co-head of research Rafael Garchitorena, is to focus on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance), with the underpinning philosophy of doing well by doing good.

"Sustainable investment funds exceeded $1 trillion in 2020. People are putting their money where their mouth is—investing in sustainable technology, including on the power generation side," he said.

According to the World Economic Forum 2020, recovery plans are also opportunities to align energy policies with the goal of achieving access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.

"As nations press the 'reset' button, they need to make the right choice and direct investments toward a green and healthy recovery, which is the best insurance against future disasters. Renewable energy can revitalize the economy by creating 'green' jobs, ensuring energy security and strengthening resilience," the WEF said during its Sustainable Development Impact Summit in September last year.

"Meralco also provides counsel to our customers to guide them in making informed energy-related decisions that may change the way we conduct our businesses and our lives, especially in this new normal," added Geluz.

City of Dreams Manila partnered with Spectrum, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Meralco focused on renewable energy, for a P76-million 1.2-megawatt solar project launched in January 2020. The initiative is part of the luxury integrated casino resort’s move toward fully sustainable operations.

Aside from Spectrum, Meralco’s subsidiaries have been on the path toward cleaner and greener energy:

• Meralco PowerGen Corporation (MGen) is looking into setting up liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities. They're currently considering sites in Quezon, Batangas, and the Zambales-Bataan area.

• MServ has been helping LGUs that want to convert their old street lights into smart LED lamp posts that offer brighter illumination, lower energy needs, and reduced light pollution. The smart LED street lamps can also be connected to a dashboard to monitor consumption and outages real time.

While the pandemic remains the "heaviest burden" that businesses have had to face, Geluz said that both public and private sectors must stand united in fighting the invisible enemy that is COVID-19, while ensuring that the country is able to weather a possible subdued and prolonged economic recovery, with an eye on sustainability.

"Amid the uncertainty, companies must now consider how the pandemic is impacting recovery strategies. Now, more than ever, we must continue to engage, unite, and stand by each other and collaborate because it is only through working together in a synchronized manner toward a common goal that we will overcome these hurdles at hand," Geluz said.