ESPRESSO MORNINGS

By Joe Zaldarriaga

Promoting long-term stability in the energy industry

When it comes to discourse on economic development, energy security is often overlooked compared to other factors such as infrastructure, agriculture, and education.

But in today’s highly interconnected world, the importance of reliable electricity service cannot be overstated. It can dictate the pace of economic growth and is a pivotal factor in the quality of life in a country.

This was highly visible in recent weeks as the country’s power grids endured heavy strain from increased demand driven by the unprecedented heat. The series of yellow and red alerts opened discussions on the need for more investors to build additional power plants in the country.

Of course, investing in the energy industry is easier said than done.

Compared to other industries, the energy industry is highly complex. Aside from the fact that it is far more demanding in terms of capital, requirements and regulations are also more extensive which is why long-term stability is an important factor for potential investors.

Thankfully, there are lawmakers such as Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, and Marinduque Lone District Rep. Lord Allan Velasco who recognize this and the vital role energy security plays in charting our country’s path towards further progress.

The three lawmakers recently shed light on the importance of strong government support to the guaranteed and continued operations of power companies such as Meralco, to ensure the delivery of stable and reliable electricity service to the public.

They have all voiced support for the renewal of Meralco’s franchise, emphasizing the need for the electricity distributor’s continued service to sustain the economic growth momentum. Meralco’s franchise covers Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and parts of Pampanga, Laguna, Batangas, and Quezon where key political and economic hubs can be found.

Salceda, in a recent statement, noted that compared to other electric cooperatives and distribution utilities in the Philippines, Meralco provides the most reliable service due to the active investments the company has made to improve its service quality over the years. To sustain this of course, the company must be able to keep its legislative franchise.

“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,” Rep. Salceda, who chairs the House Committee on Ways and Means, said.

Rep. Rodriguez, who chairs the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments and sits as vice chair of the House Committee on Trade and Industry, meanwhile noted the sustained level of service provided by Meralco to its customers is far better compared to other electric cooperatives and distribution utilities.

“Meralco-powered areas have demonstrated rapid economic growth in the past decades compared to those serviced by electric cooperatives. On this basis alone, it is imperative for the government to sustain this development in support of our economic trajectory,” he said.

House Committee on Energy Chairman Rep. Velasco shared the same sentiments, saying Meralco has been providing “world-class” electricity service at “fair and reasonable prices”.

“Among all the distribution utilities and power cooperatives here in the country, Meralco provides the most reliable electricity service—one that I dare say has been instrumental in driving the economic growth of our country,” Velasco said in the explanatory note of his bill proposing the grant of a new legislative franchise for Meralco.

One could simply glean from the statements of the congressmen the extensive capital Meralco has invested in its operations to provide such a level of electricity service to its customers. But achieving so takes years of work and investment, which is why potential investors look towards the government for a strong commitment to consistency, a firm assurance that policies will not change arbitrarily, and that their investments are valued.

Overall, the benefits of long-term stability in the energy industry go beyond uninterrupted electricity service and extend well into paving the way for progress—spurring greater business activity, improving industrial productivity, boosting international competitiveness, and enhancing the overall quality of life of Filipinos.

As we move to accelerate our country’s economic development, may we foster long-term stability in the energy industry, especially for power companies that consistently deliver quality electricity service. If well supported, players such as Meralco will not only enable economic growth but help drive progress for all.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Presidential Communications Office.

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About the Columnist

Image of Joe Zaldarriaga

Joe Zaldarriaga is a veteran, award-winning communicator immersed in public service within and beyond the energy sector. He has more than 30 years of experience serving the country’s biggest electric distribution utility and is involved in a number of public service functions, as member of various committees on public safety, power supply security and electrification. Concurrently, he is a prominent figure in the Philippine communications industry, as Chairman and Past President of the US-based International Association of Business Communicators Philippines (IABC PH). He is also an awardee of the University of Manila’s Medallion of Honor (Dr. Mariano V. delos Santos Memorial) and a Scroll of Commendation, a testament to his celebrated years in public service exemplified by outstanding communications.

Joe also shares his opinion and outlook on relevant national and consumer issues as a columnist in several prominent publications and is now venturing into new media via hosting a new vlog called Cup of Joe. Previously, Joe was a reporter and desk editor of a Broadcasting Company and the former auditor of the Defense Press Corps of the Philippines. A true green Lasalian, he finished with a degree in Asian Studies specializing in the Japan Studies program at De La Salle University, Manila, where he also spent his entire education.