Meralco converting transport fleet to EVs

Published August 2, 2021, 7:00 AM

by Myrna M. Velasco

To support the country’s grand electric mobility (e-mobility) aspirations, power utility giant Manila Electric Company (Meralco) is stepping up on its sustainability investments – and one of its initial strategies will be anchored on the conversion of ‘transport service fleet’ into electric vehicles.

In a briefing with reporters, Raymond B. Ravelo, vice president and chief sustainability officer of Meralco, stated that the company already jumpstarted its “green mobility program”, which will cover the EV conversion of its existing service vehicles.

To date, he conveyed that “we have developed around 60 electric motorcycles for use by our field personnel,” or the teams being deployed by the company to service customers, including repair of facilities as well as in other activities, like meter reading.

A follow-through to that, Ravelo emphasized they will be “heightening the program, and we are converting up to 70 of our current vehicles which are internal combustion engines into electric and these will service our business centers and sector offices.”

Ravelo, who is also the president and CEO of Meralco-affiliate EV firm e-Sakay Inc., specified that the electrification of their service vehicles will go beyond the initiatives they are pursuing now on e-motorcycles, and the investment trajectory will eventually have its inroads into electric cars, electric pick-ups, electric vans and other electric service vehicles.

He added “we continue to drive our subsidiary company e-Sakay which provides electric vehicle solutions both from a vehicle standpoint and from a charging infrastructure standpoint – to both public and private sector customers.”

Meralco Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan propounded that if the country will really have to look at wider contribution in helping solve the world’s affliction from climate change risks, then EV is one core solution that the Philippine government will need to re-assess and have its focus on.

When it comes to reducing carbon emissions, he asserted that “part of the effort is to convert to electric vehicles – that would help, so there’s got to be a program for electric vehicles.”

Currently though, the EV sector of the country is still getting its grips on providing solutions to array of concerns that have snagged capital flow in this nascent industry – including enticement of customers’ patronage for EVs vis-à-vis internal combustion engine or ICE-powered vehicles; the cost and incentive concerns being raised by investors; the standard-setting and development paradigm for charging facilities; as well as licensing issues for EVs.

Beyond that, concerns are likewise raised on how the electricity supply to be funneled to EVs will be sourced – especially given the problem of the Philippines of recurring tight power supply conditions or even rotating blackouts, especially on peak-demand-months of summer.

There are also proposals that if the EVs will have to truly contribute to climate change solutions, then the government must lay down policies on power supply sourcing to be leaning on renewable energy or other clean energy technologies.