Meralco powers PH economy with stable and reliable service

Meralco partnered with the Anti-Red Tape Authority to help local government units automate their business permit and licensing systems in line with the government’s thrust to promote ease in doing business. | PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF MERALCO

A distribution utility’s role goes beyond delivering stable and reliable electricity service to homes. It is also crucial in powering businesses especially in this critical period of economic recovery and growth after two years of strict lockdowns due to the pandemic. Without a reliable power service, the economy is bound to collapse.

Cognizant of the significant role it plays, the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) ensured throughout 2022 that the lights were on for its 7.6 million customers as the economy reopened despite challenges posed by the persisting COVID-19 pandemic as well as natural and climate hazards.

Excellence in service

No global health crisis or natural disaster can hinder Meralco from delivering excellent service to its customers. During the first nine months of 2022, Meralco’s system average interruption frequency index (SAIFI)—a metric that shows how often customers experience a sustained power interruption improved by 15 percent, at 1.052 times from the 1.154 times recorded in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, its system average interruption duration index (SAIDI), which shows the average duration of interruptions per consumer, was enhanced by seven percent at 102.507 minutes compared with the 109.892 minutes recorded in the same period of 2021.

True to its commitment of delivering excellent customer service, Meralco’s processing of applications shortened by 30 percent to only 2.27 days from the average 3.23 days recorded in 2021. The average time to connect was cut down by six percent to 1.65 days from 1.76 days, while call center performance registered an improvement of 10.5 percent.

PARTNERS IN NATION-BUILDING. Meralco renewed its support to the Department of Transportation’s infrastructure projects through energization and pole relocation activities to ensure timely completion of the projects.

Partner in nation-building

As a long-time partner of the government in nation-building, Meralco renewed its commitments through partnerships with different agencies in support of projects that will boost the country’s economic recovery and development.

In a recent meeting with the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Meralco again expressed its support for the government’s transportation infrastructure development through pole relocation works and energization activities.

Meralco also conducted pole relocation works in Merville, Parañaque City to support the on-going construction of the C5 Southlink Expressway

This commitment is anchored on a memorandum of agreement signed by Meralco and DOTr in 2019, under which the two parties committed to closely coordinate to ensure the timely completion of several projects namely the Common Station, LRT-1 Cavite Extension, Metro Rail Transit-7, Metro Manila Subway, Philippine National Railways South Long Haul (from Manila to Sorsogon), and the three phases of the North-South Commuter Railway: PNR North 1 (from Tutuban to Malolos, Bulacan), PNR North 2 (from Malolos to Clark, Pampanga), and PNR South Commuter (from Solis to Calamba, Laguna).

Meralco also conducted clearing and relocation of poles and electric facilities for the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road Project.

Meralco and the DOTr are likewise working together to ensure the timely grant of necessary permits and rights-of-way, clearances, access, and authority for properties within their jurisdiction so that the power distributor can easily relocate utility poles and ensure uninterrupted operation of its electrical facilities.

While the project construction has yet to start, Meralco already lined up pole relocation activities for the P8.79-billion EDSA Greenways, as well as the EDSA Bus Rapid Transit-Busway Concourse. Aside from reducing the travel time, these projects aim to make roads more pedestrian friendly.

With the proposed EDSA Greenways project, commuters can soon walk safer with elevated walkways at four mass transit stations namely Balintawak station of LRT-1, and three stations of the MRT-3 in Cubao, Guadalupe, and Taft. The proposed EDSA Busway concourse of the SM Group meanwhile aims to boost the efficiency of the EDSA Bus Concourse and is expected to benefit around 300,000 daily commuters daily once completed.

Meralco has already completed the pole relocation works for key projects such as the Skyway Alabang Extension and Skyway Stage 3 from Buendia to Balintawak. The power distributor is also undertaking pole relocation projects in support of the NAIAx-EDSA Tramo Connecting Ramp, and Skyway Stage 4 projects.

Also known as the Southeast Metro Manila Expressway (SEMME), the Skyway Stage 4 is a 32.7-km expressway connecting eastern Metro Manila and the western portion of Rizal province designed to decongest major thoroughfares EDSA and Circumferential Road 5 (C-5). The NAIAx-EDSA-Tramo Connecting Ramp, on the other hand, is among the projects of San Miguel Corporation which will eventually be connected to the R-10 link.

Meralco will also provide critical support to road transport projects including the Pasig River Expressway, Southern Access Link Expressway, and Northern Access Link Expressway.

More railway projects

Meralco is also preparing pole relocation works to help the DOTr efficiently complete more railway projects set to improve public transportation

To ensure the timely completion of the LRT-1 Cavite Extension project, Meralco has relocated 260 utility poles and is preparing to move 40 more. It will also support the second and third phases of this project, which is expected to cut travel time between Pasay City and Bacoor, Cavite to 30 minutes from the usual one-and-a-half.

Another project in Southern Luzon is the NSCR Extension which will connect Calamba City in Laguna to neighboring Batangas province. It will be a component of the 147-km North-South Railway Project from Clark, Pampanga.

Filipino commuters will also benefit from the 11-station MRT-4 that will connect Quezon City to Taytay, Rizal. Once completed, the project will address the traffic bottleneck along Ortigas Avenue in Pasig City and will halve the travel time to 30 minutes.

More projects designed to help commuters are under study such as the LRT-2 East Cogeo Extension project which will lessen the passenger buildup in Masinag and the LRT-2 West Extension project which will feature three additional stations to cater to more commuters in Manila City. Once both extension projects are completed, travel time is expected to be reduced to around 30 to 40 minutes from the usual three hours that commuters spend on the road.

In the southern portion of Metro Manila, the LRT-6 is set for construction which is expected to serve nearly half or 45 percent of Cavite province’s population.

Commuters in Central Luzon will also benefit from transportation projects in the works with the expected completion of the MRT-7 which will connect Bulacan province to Quezon City.

Once completed, travel time from San Jose del Monte in Bulacan to North Avenue in Quezon City is expected to be reduced to just 35 minutes from the usual two to three-hour commute. Around half a million commuters are expected to benefit from the project.

Since 2020, Meralco has relocated more than 2,500 poles and has energized 21 facilities to support the government’s infrastructure projects.

Assistance for businesses

Meralco also recently partnered with the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) to assist local government units (LGUs) in automating their business permit and licensing systems.

Under a memorandum of agreement, Meralco will deploy desktop computer units to select LGUs for their Integrated Business Permits and Licensing System or iBPLS.

Meralco’s donation of computer units will help the LGUs in setting up their Electronic Business One-Stop Shops (eBOSS) to ensure a red-tape free and more convenient business registration—from application to approval of permits.

‘Crucial’ education support

Meralco’s support for the country’s nation-building efforts extends to providing educational assistance to young Filipinos through various initiatives such as scholarships and school supplies donations throughout 2022.

Through its social development arm One Meralco Foundation (OMF), Meralco partnered with the Pasig LGU and the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health in March to provide medical scholarships to Pasig students so they can fulfill their dreams of becoming doctors.

Under the program, OMF shouldered the scholars’ tuition and miscellaneous fees while the Pasig LGU was responsible for their recurring expenses such as uniform allowance, food, and transportation subsidies. After successfully completing the course, scholars are expected to return to Pasig City to serve in public hospitals including the Pasig City General Hospital and the Pasig City Children’s Hospital or even in the Pasig City Health Department.

Meralco signed a memorandum of agreement with the Bureau of Fire Protection with the aim to strengthen emergency response capability within the BFP-NCR’s AOR.

Safety a priority

As the country’s largest power distributor, Meralco recognizes the vital role it plays in promoting safety awareness. As a testament to that commitment, Meralco partnered with the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in 2022, aimed at forging a stronger emergency response capability within Metro Manila.

Through a memorandum of agreement, the two parties agreed to organize, train, and operationalize a fire brigade team based in the Meralco headquarters in Pasig City to help in the speedy response to fire incidents and other slow-onset emergencies within the power distributor’s franchise area. The partnership is also significant in helping the BFP achieve its ideal response time of five to seven minutes.

Under the partnership, the power distributor will organize the Meralco Rescue team composed of safety, facilities, and security personnel, as well as employee volunteers. The BFP, on the other hand, will assign competent officers and personnel to train and equip them with the necessary capabilities and competencies that will help them carry out their responsibilities.

Meralco will also construct its own fire station within the compound to further support the fire brigade’s 24/7 operations. The center, expected to be fully operational by the third quarter of 2023, will serve as the base for emergency response, training, and communication between Meralco and the BFP. The new fire station will likewise house the teams’ specialized equipment such as fire trucks, water tankers, rescue tenders, and rescue boats.

Meralco and the BFP will be organizing, training, and operationalizing a fire brigade team that will be based inside the Meralco Operating Center in Pasig.

During the celebration of Fire Prevention Month in March, Meralco also participated in BFP’s activities aimed at boosting innovative fire safety and prevention programs. The partnership also includes continuation of regular fire safety and prevention trainings and electrical safety seminars to educate the public.

Other safety programs include the participation and support to the National Earthquake Drill in November this year.

Disaster resiliency

To ensure grid resiliency and strengthen storm-hardening programs, Meralco also conducts regular maintenance projects as part of its disaster-response preparation. Meralco’s linecrew are also ready to respond anytime to any emergency or power interruption.

KEEPING THE LIGHTS ON. Meralco crews worked round the clock to restore power service to customers affected by Super Typhoon Paeng in October 2022

When Super Typhoon Paeng hit the country late in October, some 4 million Meralco customers experienced power interruptions. Despite the massive damages and the sheer number of affected customers, Meralco’s restoration activities were completed in record time. The distribution utility’s line crews worked relentlessly round-the-clock to restore electricity service in areas hammered by the storm such as Laguna, Quezon, Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Rizal, and Metro Manila.

Meralco’s disaster response went beyond power restoration, demonstrated with the assistance it provided to areas beyond its franchise which were likewise severed by Super Typhoon Paeng. Through OMF the company extended relief assistance to affected Filipinosin the municipalities of Datu Blah Sinsuat and Upin in Maguindanao, many of whomhad homes and livelihoods washed out due to the flash floods and heavy rains.

OMF also teamed up with the University of Antique to distribute relief goods to families displaced by floods and landslides in the towns of Patnongon, Cuartero, Maayon, Panit-an, and Pilar in the province. With the help of the Rotaract Club of Kalibo, 120 families residing in Barangay Bonza in Libacao in the municipality also received relief packs.

OMF also partnered with Alagang Kapatid Foundation to distribute relief goods in the province of Maguindanao. It also worked with the Ateneo de Zamboanga University to help families affected by flooding in the province.

Prior to Super Typhoon Paeng, OMF had responded to other disasters within and beyond the Meralco franchise area.

For instance, when Typhoon Agaton lashed Eastern Visayas in April, OMF flew to Baybay, Leyte to donate food bags to affected families in the municipalities of Sigma and Pontevedra in Capiz.In Sorsogon, sresidents were provided relief assistance following the eruption of Mount Bulusan. OMF immediately provided food packages to affected families, including that of the local government employees of the municipality of Juban.

OMF was also the first non-profit organization to extend assistance to families in Abra who were affected by the country’s strongest earthquake this year. Following the disaster, OMF provided solar lamps in two of the heavily affected barangays—Sallapadan Bario and Lingay, and also distributed goods to families in Barangays Ud-udiao and Lamao in the municipality of Bucloc.

Beyond relief assistance, Meralco also extended help to its fellow electricity distributors outside Metro Manila. Meralco formed a contingent of more than 140 linemen and engineers to help electricity distributors in Cebu and Bohol following the devastation caused by Super Typhoon Odette.

In Cebu, over 80 engineers and linemen, and 21 vehicles were deployed to help Visayan Electric Co. (VECO) and Mactan Electric Co. (MECO) restore electricity service in several parts of the province.
In Bohol, close to 60 personnel, along with 13 vehicles, provided support to Bohol Light Company Inc. and Bohol II Electric Cooperative with the assistance of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Reinforcement was also provided by theArmed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Navy, 2Go, PLDT, among others. Through them, Meralco was also able to transport its personnel, vehicles, and heavy equipment to the affected areas.

SUPPORT for Philippine Airforce (PAF). One Meralco Foundation provided relief packages to members and families of the PAF Ladies’ Club who were affected by Super Typhoon Paeng in October 2022.

OMF, meanwhile, coordinated with other non-profit organizations and local government units for the distribution of close to 5,000 relief packages to affected families in Siargao Island, Surigao, Leyte, Palawan, Cebu, Bohol, Dinagat Islands and Guihulngan in Negros Oriental.

In Dinagat Islands and Siargao, OMF distributed 140 solar torches and some generator sets to help the affected residents. It also coordinated with Power 4 All for the distribution of solar flashlights.

As the world welcomes a new year, Filipinos can expect Meralco to continue powering the good life in 2023 with stable and reliable electricity. The government can also count on Meralco to remain as a supportive partner in nation-building as the economy recovers and develops after the pandemic.

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