Lawmaker bats for Meralco service expansion, cites economic benefits

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

MORE than 30 areas outside the franchise area of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) have expressed interest in being served by the power distributor, House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman and Albay Rep. Jose Maria Clemente “Joey” S. Salceda said on Monday.

“At least 29 municipalities and cities and at least four provinces outside the franchise area have formally expressed interest to be served by Meralco,” Mr. Salceda said in a statement.

The lawmaker has filed House Bill No. 9793, which seeks to extend the power distributor’s existing franchise set to expire in 2028. The bill also aims to expand the scope of the company’s operations, a provision absent in its current franchise under Republic Act No. 9209, signed into law in June 2003.

“The case for renewing Meralco’s franchise is plain and simple: it has complied with the conditions of the franchise law and it is good for the economy and the consumer,” he said.

“Meralco provides the most reliable service among all major electric cooperatives and distribution utilities (ECDUs), with outages suffered by the average consumer totaling to mere minutes in an entire year, versus days or weeks worth of blackouts for other neighboring ECDUs,” Mr. Salceda added.

He said that under a scenario where all ECDUs functioned comparably to Meralco, it could potentially lead to an annual increase of P201 billion in gross value added to the economy, attributed to the avoidance of outages.

PARTNERSHIPMeanwhile, Meralco said it has teamed up with the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines, Inc. (JCCIPI) to promote sustainable, innovative and energy efficient solutions in the energy sector.

“Meralco can provide expertise in the energy sector while JCCIPI can contribute technological advancement and investment. This collaboration can result in sustainable energy solutions,” Bernice Gretchel P. Garcia-Rama, Meralco’s head of enterprise-commercial and conglomerates, said in a statement on Monday.

For his part, JCCIPI Vice-President Nobuo Fujii said: “Through this partnership, we aim to harness the power of innovative technology from Japanese companies, coupled with Meralco’s expertise in the energy sector, to drive forward sustainable solutions in the Philippines.”

JCCIPI is a private and nonprofit organization consisting of Japanese or Japanese-related companies and organizations in the Philippines.

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

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