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Meralco expects closing for SPNEC deal by yearend

MANILA Electric Co. (Meralco) is aiming for its subsidiary to complete an estimated P200-billion investment deal that will give it a stake in projects in solar and battery energy storage systems.

“In terms of what our aim is, to close certainly, we’re hoping that it [will] be done by end of this year because they should be able to energize sometime in the first quarter of 2026 — the first 600 megawatts. Something should happen very quickly,” Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman and chief executive officer of Meralco, told reporters on the sidelines of a media briefing on Monday.

MGen Renewable Energy, Inc. (MGreen), the renewable energy arm of Meralco PowerGen Corp., signed an investment agreement last month with listed solar energy developer SP New Energy Corp. (SPNEC) and its parent firm Solar Philippines Power Project Holdings, Inc.

Under the agreement, SPNEC will serve as the primary vehicle to develop a 3,500-megawatt (MW) solar farm and 4,000 MW of battery energy storage systems in Luzon.

MGreen previously said that it was investing P15.9 billion in SPNEC by subscribing to the latter’s 15.7 billion common shares and 19.4 billion redeemable preferred shares.

SPNEC will apply to increase its authorized capital stock to allow the investment. The funds from MGreen will be used to finance the construction and expansion of SPNEC’s solar projects.

At transaction close, MGreen’s common and preferred voting shares will make the company the controlling shareholder of SPNEC with a total voting interest of 50.5%.

“With the batteries, best estimate as of the moment is around P200 billion,” Mr. Pangilinan said, referring to the required investment.

“So it’s exciting. It’s a big project. It attracted a lot of interest from foreign investors because it’s big. It’s transformative actually for the Philippines,” Mr. Pangilinan said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Pangilinan said that he is bullish about the nuclear technology of its partner, US firm Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp.

“Meralco signed a pre-feasibility agreement. We’re bullish about their technology,” he said, adding that Meralco is looking into “procuring a proof of concept plan that they can install, [and] build here in the Philippines, supposedly in an area that is safe.”

He said that the study is needed as the Philippines does not have experience “in terms of building a modular [nuclear reactor] and certainly in terms of manning and operating a plant.”

The pre-feasibility study will cover financial, technical, safety, cost of power, and site proposal, Mr. Pangilinan said in a previous interview.

“On the other side, we don’t have an atomic regulatory agency that will eventually oversee and supervise [the development of] nuclear power in this country,” he said.

Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla recently said that the government was “laying the grounds” that would satisfy the competency requirements based on the milestone approach of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Meralco’s controlling stakeholder, Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc., is partly owned by PLDT Inc.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera

Neil Banzuelo

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