By Myrna M. Velasco
Cacho-owned Panay Electric Company (PECO) will be investing P1.1 billion in the next 10 years for the rollout of advanced metering technologies, system upgrades and overall expansion of its load network.
Of the targeted capital outlay, PECO Administrative Manager Marcelo U. Cacho emphasized that the bulk will be for the replacement of its 64,000 meters with advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) or the so-called intelligent meters which will enable end-users to track their electricity usage, hence, empowering them to better manage their consumption.
He said the planned rollout of the AMI meters will be completed over five years – or from years 2019 to 2024. The power utility firm already started replacing 4,000 of its currently deployed meters to its customers in Iloilo.
The allocation for the AMI meters’ deployment, Cacho said, will be P205 million. The meters are being supplied by EDMI Limited, a global solutions leader in smart metering.
The other investments will be for the setting up of new substations to underpin the load requirement of big-ticket customers, like property developers Megaworld Corporation, Gaisano Capital Group and Westernland Property Development, Inc.
The biggest substation to be installed in the Panay power utility firm’s network will be dedicated to the 70-hectare Megaworld property development and that alone will require an investment of P135 million for 50-megavolt ampere (MVA) capacity.
The other two substations for Gaisano and Westernland will be at 15MVA capacity and may require capital outlay of P70 million to P80 million for each substation.
Cacho noted that the utility firm’s next wave of investments will be for its “smart grid journey,” which it had already jumpstarted even if the Department of Energy (DOE) is still sorting out the rules for such innovation in the restructured electricity sector.
Beyond these projects, the company is also setting sights on other ventures, including micro-grids with initially targeted areas in Palawan and Romblon – and such will be underpinned by renewable energy (RE) technology installations that shall be placed under its new subsidiary Panay Alternative Energy.
The Cacho firm is also innovating on other facets of the energy business – such as net metering which will enable end-users to produce their own electricity and inject any surplus to the grid; and “Pasa Kuryente” in which the “prosumer” in the net metering system could pass on its excess capacity to its nominated end-user in the net metering arrangement with a distribution utility.