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‘Meralco franchise renewal good for the economy’

MANILA, Philippines — A key leader of the House of Representatives yesterday openly endorsed the renewal of the legislative franchise of the country’s largest private sector electric distribution utility company amid repeated notices for possible power shortages.

Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, who chairs the House committee on ways and means, emphasized that the franchise of the Manny V. Pangilinan-run Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) deserves to be extended beyond 2028, for another 25 years, or until 2053.

“The case for renewing Meralco’s franchise is plain and simple: it has complied with the conditions of the franchise law and it is good for the economy and the consumer,” Salceda said, adding that renewing it for another 25 years is “good for the economy.”

House Bill 9793, the measure that aims to extend the Meralco franchise that Salceda filed, seeking a quarter of a century extension to the power distribution giant’s existing franchise, is now pending in the House committee on legislative franchises chaired by Parañaque 2nd District Rep. Gus Tambunting.

Meralco’s current franchise, embodied in Republic Act 9209, will not expire until 2028.

The company serves consumers in Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Pampanga and Bulacan.

“Meralco provides the most reliable service among all major electric cooperatives and distribution utilities or 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,” Salceda said.

“If all ECDUs performed like Meralco, the economy would create an additional P201 billion in gross value added annually due to avoided outages,” he added.

The distribution company covers 39 cities and 72 municipalities.

Salceda, a former National Economic and Development Authority director-general, is grateful that with Meralco’s “bargaining position and strong financials, it is able to acquire power supply agreements in full compliance with rules on competitive selection.”

At the same time, he pointed out that systems loss charges by Meralco are “likewise among the lowest in the area – a product of the P220 billion that Meralco has invested over the