Meralco harnessing sun power



Two years after the company enunciated a policy to go greener and adopt sustainable practices, Meralco officially placed on stream in May its biggest project to date in tapping renewable energy sources.

A sprawling array of photovoltaic panels in a 72-hectare property in San Miguel, Bulacan now harnesses the power of the sun and is generating electricity that would be enough to service the needs of several towns in the province just north of Manila if that was its sole purpose.

But BulacanSol, as the solar farm is called, is meant to contribute power to Luzon, the main engine that drives the Philippine economy.

BulacanSol, built by MGen Renewable Energy Inc., a subsidiary of Meralco, started delivering around 50 megawatts to the Luzon Grid in mid-May, a few months off schedule because of work delays caused by weather disturbances and lockdowns due to the pandemic. MGen started the PHP4.25-billion project in December 2019.

“Our team worked long hours to commission this solar project,” said Rogelio L. Singson, MGen President and CEO.

“This achievement is really about teamwork, strive for excellence, and hard work,” added Singson, who isn’t a stranger to undertaking large projects having served as public works and highways secretary.

He called BulacanSol a very important milestone in MGen’s goal to build a renewable energy portfolio of up to 1,500 megawatts in five to seven years.

Beyond MGen’s planned renewable energy projects, Meralco President Atty. Ray C. Espinosa told shareholders during the distribution utility’s annual general meeting that renewable sources such as solar and wind should total 3,000 megawatts in the company’s energy mix in five to seven years.

“In June 2019, we first announced that we will be joining the shift to renewable energy by adopting sustainable practices for the One Meralco Group,” said Espinosa. He explained that BulacanSol is only “the first of several that One Meralco has lined up for investment and sourcing.”

Meralco Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said MGen’s initial foray in solar energy is “a modest step into renewables but a significant one for Meralco.” Fuel sourcing, he said, “will ultimately be biased towards renewables.”

Aside from balancing its energy mix, Meralco is also undertaking several initiatives to become a better steward of the environment.

The power distribution utility is in the midst of re-fleeting program that would soon see more of its employees moving around in electric vehicles and installing more vehicle recharging stations to encourage wider use of electricity-power transport. It has also introduced net metering to spur customers to invest in generating their own power, and is using more widely plant-based ester oil as insulating fluid for its tens of thousands of distribution transformers to make them more efficient, extend their service life, and ensure easier disposal without hurting the environment.