Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) is set to power two islands in Quezon and Batangas that is within the power distributor’s franchise area with hybrid solar-battery power plants.
Isla Verde in Batangas City had its ceremonial switch-on on February 15 while Cagbalete Island in Mauban, Quezon is still in the pipeline.
The solar plant in Isla Verde has a total capacity of 32 kW.
“The hybrid solar-battery power plant, and corresponding Meralco distribution facilities were actually completed in 2017,” Meralco Vice President and Head of Utility Economics Lawrence S. Fernandez was quoted as saying.
Fernandez said Meralco was completing and following government requirements of the local government units (LGU), DOE, and Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), as well as “guiding customers on the service application process in the interim.”
“The power plant and distribution lines are already in place in Cagbalete Island,” he said.
“We are just going through the usual permitting process at the DoE and the ERC,” he added.
He said the power system in Cagbalete is a hybrid of solar, battery, and diesel energy which has a 30-kilowatt power system, enough to supply 200 households.
“[In the island of Isla Verde] the power plant is LGU (local government unit)-owned but we partnered with the LGU so that we can have the corresponding distribution lines, and we also talked to the consumers in the island so that their application forms can also be ready,” he said.
The Department of Energy (DOE) asked Meralco in April last year why an area under its franchise remained without reliable power.
DOE Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi wrote Meralco president and chief executive officer Oscar S. Reyes to inform him that Isla Verde in Batangas is still among those identified by the department as “unserved or underserved.”
DOE considered giving the province to a third-party electricity providers.
“Since the island is within your franchise area, may we be apprised on the reasons why the island remains unserved by Meralco up to this date,” Mr. Cusi said in his letter.
The review of the unelectrified areas are in line with the DOE’s target to provide power to remote areas with a price lower than the small power utilities group’s (SPUG) true generation cost.
Included in his letter, Cusi also asked Meralco to submit a proposed electrification plan “with a definite timeline for the said area.” The same goes with the Cagbalete Island, which was powerless at that time.
Fernandez said Meralco has been accounted for its service in the Batangas area. It was categorized as one of the 17 “unserved and underserved” areas in the Philippines in terms of electrification.
“Similar to the objectives of the franchise, we also target full electrification for all our service areas,” he said.
“We serve one city and two municipalities in the Batangas area,” he said. “The ERC and the distribution management committee already audited Meralco on its performance. We were given a 100% grade and I think customers there in the areas that we serve in Batangas City know that we have been providing world-class service. We think we can continue to provide that world-class service to those consumers,” he said.