PECO eyes Iloilo as center of energy innovation in Visayas

(DG file)

PANAY Electric Company Inc. (PECO) has committed to lead the charge in pursuing energy innovation in Iloilo, prepping up the fast-growing Southern province to be the future center of energy innovation in the Visayas.

Speaking during ILOILOvation 2019, a Business Matching and Investment Forum last October 22 as part of the Iloilo Innovation Expo at the Iloilo Convention Center, PECO Head of Public Engagement and Government Affairs Marcelo Cacho stressed that the future of energy in the Visayas and the whole of the Philippines is anchored on innovation and digitalization as well as on empowering the people to produce their own power.

“The future of energy is when everybody is empowered to produces their own energy,” Cacho declared. “With the power of choice to move forward, energy consumers should be able to choose the type of power they want to use–be it solar, natural gas, hydro, or coal–how much their electricity costs, and from whom they want to get it,” he added.

Iloilo is one of the premier regions and one of the fastest-growing provinces of the Philippines. Iloilo City, alongside its twin, Bacolod City, are considered as the growth poles of Western Visayas. In 2018, the city was recognized as the second most competitive city in the Philippines, the number one city in governance, and awarded as one of the safest cities to live-in South-East Asia.


Iloilo’s Energy Partner for 95 years

Iloilo-based PECO is the first 100% Filipino-owned private enterprise and is dubbed the leading energy innovator in the Visayas. According to Cacho, the company is committed to contributing to the socio-economic progress and stability of the community by providing excellent service to the public in a reliable and safe manner and at the least possible cost.

PECO has been serving Iloilo for the last 95 years. We would like to believe that in that span of time, we have been a major part of Iloilos journey towards development and economic prosperity, stressed Cacho.

He also added that they want PECO to be responsible in creating opportunity to lead the industry and the community in providing the best service and energy solutions to all the Ilonggos.

Cacho has been with PECO for six years as a member of the companys board committee on information technology while serving as the company’s assistant corporate secretary.

Also, as part of his efforts in elevating the community, Cacho also serves as the President and convener of the Iloilo Utilities Group.

Cacho revealed that with its rich natural resources, continuous infrastructure development, competent human capital, cultural and heritage attractions, and geographic centrality, Iloilo is now hailed as one of the most livable places in the Philippines and a symbol of good governance and sustainability.

Being Iloilos partner for almost a hundred years, back when powerlines were still done manually, PECO has been continuously creating innovation in the pursuit of energy independence. We want Ilonggos to have a choiceif they dont like coal, then they can choose solar, Cacho stressed.


Future of Energy Distribution

“While the future of energy is in the power choice, the good news is that the future is now starting to happen here in the Visayas, particularly in Iloilo,” Cacho revealed. “We have initiated quite a few innovations in energy distribution that will ultimately benefit our customers,” he added.

Cacho shared that PECO has launched its Smart Metering project, whose benefits to the customers include prepaid metering, real-time wireless meter reading, automatic disconnection and reconnection, and an overall lowering of rates due to customer load profiling.

“Smart metering also empowers the customers through an online web portal where they can see their meter readings real-time, with meter reading updates every 15 minutes, we are now testing the online portal which will be launched next year,” Cacho explained.

Some 2,000 smart meters have already been installed and another 2,000 will be delivered within the year.

Cacho also reported that PECO have also introduced Net Metering, in which power consumers can install solar panel systems in their homes. With this, the consumers can throw back to PECO any excess power generated by their solar panels which will then be credited to their regular electricity bill.

“Our net metering system further gives our consumers the power of choice, because now they can choose to generate their own electricity and save money in the process,” Cacho noted.

Cacho also shared that PECO is on board with the Department of Energy (DOE) smart grid project. “A smart grid is an electric system enhanced with innovative digital technologies that detect problems in the system and initiate self-healing processes,” he explained. “With the smart grid, consumers can experience improved reliability, better service, and greater control over their energy use.”

Another PECO innovation in energy distribution is their “Pasa-Kuryente” service which allows solar panel owners to pass on to other consumers any excess power their system has generated.

“These are just some of the initiatives that PECO has done for the Ilonggos,” Cacho noted. “But we’re not stopping there, because we believe that the people of Iloilo deserve a dynamic kind of service that is improved and enhanced as the years go by,” he added.

The government is already implementing regulations to support your power of choice, while there are many who are reluctant to that take on this, as someone whos family has been doing for 95 years, I can tell you it can be done, Cacho stressed.


Promoting Sustainable Energy Practices

As a leader in innovative energy solutions in the Visayas, Cacho wants to focus on building and promoting sustainable energy practices hinged on technology and business for the best interest of his “kasimanwa” in Iloilo.

As the Philippines pursues energy independence, the role of each energy contributor becomes increasingly important in forming a culture of interdependence between big and small contributors and collectively helping the country meet its own energy demands.

Even the smallest power distributors have a critical role in the country’s energy future as they provide access to energy in areas not served by the bigger energy players, particularly in the provinces

“There are no small players in the energy sector. We need the power of competition. We need the power of choice for the Philippines to move forward,” Cacho stressed. “Whether youre a scientist, or a consumer, we all have a role in shaping our energy future in the Visayas and the whole of the Philippines, Cacho concluded.