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Meralco open to contract power from Bataan nuke plant

Manila Electric Company (Meralco), the country’s largest electricity distribution utility company, has expressed openness to source electricity from the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) should the mothballed power generation facility be revived and utilized.

“Meralco will favorably consider contracting reasonably and competitively priced supply from generation companies, including the BNPP, if the said [plant] should become operational,” Meralco president and chief executive officer Ray Espinosa said during the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting on Tuesday.

President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President-elect Sara Duterte have earlier vowed to hasten the country's adoption of nuclear power in a bid to lower electricity rates after President Rodrigo Duterte issued an executive order tapping nuclear power as an energy source along with other alternative energy resources.

Marcos had also expressed desire to revive the BNPP, a project during the term of his late father President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., which has been mothballed for more than three decades.

Earlier, the government pegged the cost of reviving the BNPP at around $1 billion.

In 1976, Marcos Sr. ordered the construction of the $2.3-billion BNPP, but was shelved after three years due to safety concerns.

Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute director Carlo Arcilla said the BNPP’s design is secure, and its revival and  possible utilization is safe despite decades of not being used.

While Meralco is open to source electricity from BNPP, Espinosa said the power distributor “may not have the internal competencies to operate and maintain the BNPP.”

On the issue of bringing down the cost of electricity under the incoming Marcos administration, Espino said that “reducing electricity prices is always possible but it involves looking into many factors that affect the movement of electricity rates.”

“The biggest and most volatile part of the bill, which is the generation charge, is driven by fuel prices, forex (foreign exchange, and demand-supply situation),” he said.

Marcos earlier said he is looking at amending the Arroyo-era Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) to bring down the cost of electricity.

The President-elect has also formed a team to look into which items in the electricity bills can be brought down further to ease the burden of consumers.

“What we need are sound government policies that can address the movement of fuel prices and forex, and an environment that encourages the development and investment of additional capacities brought about by new generating plants,” Espinosa said.—AOL, GMA News