THE Manuel V. Pangilinan-led Manila Electric Company (Meralco) will not engage in nickel mining but will support the mining industry and its endeavors to go for green or energy transition metals.
Pangilinan said as a power company, Meralco will not invest in nickel mining but may be looking at investing in EV assembly or manufacturing in partnership with EV companies.
“No. Meralco is a power company and we like to keep it as such,” Pangilinan told reporters when asked about plans to invest in nickel mining. Philex Mining Corporation, another MVP-led company, is diversifying from copper-gold, adding nickel mining operations in Zambales to join the bandwagon for energy transition mentals extraction.
Nevertheless, Pangilinan said as far as Meralco is concerned, the power company is prospecting the nickel industry to develop in the country “because the future for Electric Vehicles (EV) is bright.”
“A number of major car manufacturers said that they will no longer [do] fossil fuel vehicles starting 2027 so we want to be in that position,” says Pangilinan.
Meralco, he said, will also not invest in mining through Philex but stressed that even for a power distribution company, it is a duty to participate in the migration of this country from fossil fuel to e-vehicles “and it can do that in a number of ways.”
He said Meralco is in the best position to lay out the charging stations due to its reach through its well-established network in most major parts of the country.
Pangilinan also noted that Meralco itself sells a significant amount of power. However, he would rather see Meralco as a participant to move toward that migration, “maybe more quickly than anticipated either by partnering with manufacturers of 4-wheelers, 6-wheelers and 2-wheelers even” or with the manufacture, through assembly, if not financing of those vehicles precisely to incentivize people to switch from fossil to electric.
“It’s not an easy task. I think the reaction of most of the fleet operators is quite positive. The hurdle at the moment is the capital cost of acquiring a vehicle which is more expensive than fossil fuel but given the high prices of fossil fuel as we know, the operating cost dynamics of a fossil fuel vehicle and EV is now in favor of EV because it costs less to operate an evehicle than it is fossil fuel; we have to think of a creative way to enable safely for operators and individuals to purchase e-vehicle,” he explained.
“I think the mission of Meralco and this country is to be able to attract investors so that we can at least assemble or manufacture the bodies of these vehicles,” he said.
Pangilinan, who was in China in last week, said one Chinese telco has partnered with a Chinese automotive company and that auto company builds companies but the software is provided by this Chinese tech company.
“But if we can replicate that here, I think we are capable of building bodies. And charging stations, definitely,” he said.
He said for now, there’s no concrete proposal coming from Meralco, but vowed to support the Meralco Board for anything that has to do with EVs. Pangilinan said the transition from fossil fuel to EV will be the barometer as to when Meralco will start putting up the charging stations for EVs.
“You have to push for the adoption first and then dun ka magtatayo ng charging stations,” he said, declaring with certainty that the first to embrace the EVs in the Philipines will be the richer or moneyed individuals.
Hence, he said gated villages will be the first target for installation of charging stations should the need arises. However, he said that Meralco’s target is the mass market, which is Meralco’s forte.
According to Pangilinan, Meralco key officials will be in Hongkong today, Friday, to talk about the opportunities and future plans of the company.
As for Meralco’s potential partner in the EV assembly, he said the company would be looking for foreign partnership, adding that a local partner will be out of the question as most EV parts and assembly are imported. He said Meralco has no particular firm in mind right now but the search is ongoing. “We are talking to almost everybody,” he added.