By Myrna M. Velasco
The year is already turning in a new leaf, but the two regulatory periods of capital expenditure (capex) applications of Manila Electric Company (Meralco) totaling P39.8 billion are still awaiting regulatory approval.
These programmed capital spending have been set at P18.8 billion for regulatory year July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017; and P21.0 billion for the regulatory year ending June 30, 2019.
Scheduled capex of regulated entities like Meralco would need to go through the approval of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) before capital outlay could be earmarked for certain projects.
“These have been filed, but they’re not yet approved. The only ones partially approved were those on first and second regulatory years,” Meralco President and Chief Executive Officer Oscar S. Reyes said.
For very immediate projects, Meralco Chief Financial Officer Betty Siy-Yap indicated that the utility firm’s usual recourse is to file for emergency capex – which in the first half of 2018 alone reached as much as P4.0 billion.
“We’ve been filing for emergency capex. But what we’ve done, we manifested that we need approval because basically our lineup up of projects is already loaded,” she stressed.
The officials of the company further indicated that in the roll of these emergency capex allotments included critically loaded facilities, mandatory maintenance and requirements for new connections.
The company has also been shelling out immense capital outlay on clearing and relocation of its power facilities (i.e. electric poles) that could be traversed by the “Build, Build, Build” projects of the Duterte administration.
From January to September 2018 alone, the power distribution firm noted that it already spent P10.1 billion of its programmed capex.
Among its major capital project undertakings during the period had been the installations of North Port Bank No.6 and Balintawak Bank No. 6 “to replace defective power transformers.”
The company’s other electric capital projects include the various distribution line projects – such as unloading, conversion, re-termination, flexibility improvement and construction of new lines.
It also advanced further on the relocation of electric poles relative to a road widening project of the Department of Public Works and Highways, as well as the other Build, Build, Build and the private-public partnership (PPP) projects of the government. (MMV)