US firms to work with MPower, Meralco on power projects

JEROME CMG-UNSPLASH

MARYLAND-BASED hydrogen production startup Ally Power, Inc. will work with MPower, the local electricity supply arm of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), to build a $400-million (P22.16 billion) hydrogen and electric refueling station in the Philippines, the United States Department of Commerce said on Wednesday.

“This station will produce hydrogen, electricity, and sodium aluminate to support the Philippines’ energy security and climate change agenda,” the US agency said in a statement, detailing US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo’s two-day visit to the Philippines with the 22-member US Presidential Trade and Investment Mission.

Ally Power is engaged in developing stations responsible for recharging hydrogen fuel cell and electric battery vehicles, as well as generating excess electricity for sale to power grids.

It will also work with the University of the Philippines to promote renewable technologies from the US.

The US Commerce department also said Seattle-based Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. will work with Meralco on carbon-free electrical generation system.

The two companies are expected to launch an electricity project in the country using Ultra Safe’s advanced nuclear battery.

American Chamber of the Philippines Inc. Executive Director Ebb Hinchcliffe said at a business forum on Monday that the cost of power remains a hurdle in making the Philippines an attractive destination for investments in the semiconductor sector.

The Philippines is one of seven countries that the US is working with to diversify its semiconductor supply chain under the CHIPS and Science Act.

Under the law, the US would shell out $52.7 billion in subsidies to boost chip manufacturing and entice chipmakers in China to move to the US or other friendly countries.

At the same time, the US Commerce department said that Microsoft will work with Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Department of Budget and Management, and the Department of Trade and Industry to train jobseekers and students in artificial intelligence.

“It was an honor to lead the first-ever trade mission of this nature to the Philippines and to underscore the immense potential, which is evident in the more than $1 billion of investments from this mission alone,” Ms. Raimondo said. 

“We share an important relationship with the Philippines, and I believe the work we accomplished over these last few days will make our partnership even stronger.”

Meralco’s controlling stakeholder, Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc., is partly owned by PLDT Inc.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — John Victor D. Ordoñez