Manila Electric Co., the biggest retailer of electricity, is monitoring the sharp rise in power consumption in the past two months and its impact on supply during the dry months to ensure its readiness to serve the increased demand.
Meralco chairman Manuel Pangilinan said the January and February demand resulted in a 12-percent sales volume growth. The company recorded volume growth of close to six percent in 2015.
“If the trend continues, we need to closely monitor the supply situation,” Pangilinan said. Power demand historically goes up during the dry months due to the hot temperatures and supply constraint from hydro power plants.
“We need to refresh the ILP [interruptible load program] that was initiated last year,” Pangilinan said. Participants to the ILP program did not draw power from the Luzon grid when there was shortage of supply and, instead, used their own generating sets.
Meralco signed up up to 820 MW of capacity under the ILP last year.
“A lot of verticals and horizontals [are] being built. A lot of construction works have been completed that’s why we saw a growth in the second half of last year. There’s a big casino that should be completed,” Pangilinan said.
He said the increase in demand reflected the growing economy. The Philippine economy expanded by a robust 5.8 percent in 2015.
“The good news is that the economy is growing. We have to make sure that we have the supply. It hinges on the capex as well,” Pangilinan said.
Meralco officials said the increase in demand must be met by a stronger distribution system.
Meralco applied for a capital expenditure budget of P17.5 billion to P18 billion for 2016, but has not received approval from the Energy Regulatory Commission.
ERC, however, allowed Meralco put up the needed infrastructure and other facilities under an emergency capex program amounting to P9 billion to P10 billion.
“If the emergency capex is up to P10 billion and we spent P11 billion last year, it’s going to be tight but we can still do it,” Pangilinan said.
Meralco spent P11.3 billion in 2015 to ensure the distribution network was responsive to the needs of its 5.8 million customers.
These projects include the development of the Pagcor-1 Gas-Insulated Switchgear substation to serve the Pagcor Entertainment City complex and the expansion of the Fort Bonifacio Global City-4 GIS substation and the Tutuban substation and the replacement of the 83 MVA power transformer at the Mandaluyong substation.
Meralco president Oscar Reyes said the company must prioritize projects needed to meet the growth in demand.
“There may take a bit of risk on resiliency,” Reyes said. Meralco is supposed to invest in projects that will improve its network’s resiliency against inclement weather.
Meralco earlier said it invested P63 billion in distribution and P20 billion in generation facilities from 2010 to 2015.