By Myrna M. Velasco
Major leadership changeover will happen at Manila Electric Company (Meralco) by May this year with the designation of lawyer Ray C. Espinosa as the next President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the country’s biggest power utility firm.
He will be replacing Oscar S. Reyes who will be retiring from the post effective on May 28, 2019 – which is also the utility firm’s scheduled annual stockholders meeting.
Prior to his assumption at Meralco’s helm, Espinosa has been designated deputy CEO starting January 28 this year, as has been disclosed by the company to the Philippine Stock Exchange.
Espinosa has been board director of the utility firm since May 26, 2009 and has also chaired the finance committee of the company’s board.
“Mr. Espinosa will assume the position of President and Chief Executive Officer after Mr. Reyes leaves Meralco service on May 28, 2019,”the power company has formally announced via its PSE disclosure.
Among Meralco insiders, Espinosa has been known as a long trusted corporate executive within the companies of business magnate Manuel V. Pangilinan – including Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and Metro Pacific Investments Corporation.
Espinosa’s leadership tenure at Meralco will straddle a very critical transition as the entire industry faces wide-ranging transformation moving forward – including advancement to retail competition and open access plus tsunami-scale technology disruptions in the energy sector.
For Meralco and subsidiaries per se, the biggest challenge for Espinosa’s leadership will be securing regulatory approvals on long-delayed power projects.
The proposed 1,200-megawatt Atimonan coal-fired power project of Meralco PowerGen in particular confronts cost swings on project financing because of the delayed approval of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on its power supply agreement.
The regulatory lag dilemma on the power projects had been part of the lingering frustration of Reyes during his stint at Meralco – and this is a ‘headache’ essentially passed on also to his successor.
There are six other power projects underpinned by Meralco supply agreements but all of these are also suffering snags on regulatory approval.
The power firm proverbially maintained that its pipelined projects are crucial capacity additions to its load network that will ensure its long-term supply – especially to its captive customers or the segment of end-users who cannot exercise yet their power of choice on their preferred electricity suppliers.