Business as usual is no longer an option.
Meralco’s mission is to ensure that electricity continually flows from our grid to our customers—to light up homes and offices, to power industries, and to energize our economy. But these will be for naught if the communities, cities, and the country we seek to uplift are not equipped to deal with the mounting challenges our world faces. We therefore put sustainability at the heart of One Meralco, allowing us to better empower people, protect our environment, and foster inclusive growth for a prosperous nation.
Sustaining communities, preserving the planet
Among Meralco’s flagship sustainability initiatives is a reforestation program called One for Trees. Launched in 2019 to help plant and nurture more trees in Philippine forests and watersheds, the program has since worked with various stakeholders to ensure the long-term survival of nurtured trees, while at the same time providing livelihood opportunities to the communities around them.
Powering the Good Life:
Our Sustainability Agenda
Powering the Good Life is Meralco’s sustainability agenda rooted in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). It is marked by a distinctive focus on four strategic pillars: Power, Planet, People, and Prosperity.
To learn more about the Good Life we seek to bring to our co-workers, customers, communities, and the country—today and for generations to come—please watch this video.
We achieved 99.94% electrification in our service area with 261 sites energized by end-2020, giving light to 11,354 households, 6,999 of which were electrified through One Meralco Foundation’s Household Electrification Program (HEP). Going forward, MEP targets to energize the remaining priority sites to bring us even closer to achieving 100% household electrification. Also through MEP, we expanded our 60-kW microgrid system in Cagbalete Island, Quezon by beginning to build 1.4 MW of additional solar PV and battery storage capacity, enough to power the entire island.
We are continuously expanding our efforts to source and generate cleaner, more eco-friendly energy to lower our overall carbon footprint.
We aim to progressively increase our supply from renewable energy (RE) sources in compliance with the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) requirements under the Renewable Energy Act of 2008. In particular, we will source at least 1,500 MW of energy from earth-friendly sources in the next five years.
On the generation side, through our subsidiary, MGreen, we will further expand our RE portfolio by investing PhP190B to build up to 1,500 MW of RE projects in the next five to seven years. Leading our transition to RE is the development of BulacanSol, our 50-MW solar farm in San Miguel, Bulacan. This utility-scale solar plant was launched in the second quarter of 2021. A plan is also in the pipeline to establish a 110-MW floating solar project to increase the share of solar power in our generation portfolio.
As part of our thrust to protect the environment while helping spur the nation’s economic growth, our subsidiary Spectrum offers distributed energy resources—solar PV solutions and microgrids.
In January 2020, we partnered with City of Dreams to install a 1.2-MW solar PV energy system (composed of 3,120 solar panels) on the rooftop of its parking building. By harvesting the sun’s irradiation, the solar project is guaranteed to generate 1,730 MWh per year and to reduce carbon emissions by more than 1,000 tonnes of CO2e annually.
We also continue to find technological solutions to provide power to all, including many isolated and island communities in dire need of energy access. In 2019, the communities of Isla Verde, Batangas, and Cagbalete Island in Mauban, Quezon were the first beneficiaries of our microgrid solutions which combine solar PV and battery energy storage systems (BESS), enabling them to enjoy more affordable and clean power 24/7 for their households and businesses. In Isla Verde, 29 households were energized through a 32-kW solar PV and a 192-kWh BESS. In Cagbalete Island, two barangays representing 140 households benefited from a 60-kWp solar PV and a 150-kWh BESS. We are now working toward building larger-scale microgrids, nearly 25 times the size of those in the first phase of implementation, with the immediate goal of energizing the remaining unconnected households and small businesses on both islands. In particular, with an additional 1.4 MW of solar PV and 2.4 MWh of BESS, the expanded system in Cagbalete will power the entire island and serve over 600 households and 11 resorts by 2021.
To further reduce our overall emissions, we employ nature-based carbon offset solutions such as our One for Trees program, driven by the One Meralco Foundation. Through this program, we live out our commitment to environmental sustainability and contribute to the preservation of Philippine biodiversity, as we plant and nurture at least 3 million trees by 2025 in multiple forest lands and critical watersheds within and beyond our franchise area. We seek to revive and rehabilitate damaged and threatened forests and watersheds, while simultaneously providing a sustainable stream of income to communities through agroforestry.
Our waste management practices and initiatives are integrated under our Race to Zero Waste (RZW) Program, which aims to minimize waste generation and reduce waste disposal in landfills from all our facilities.
Our Group-wide Ban on Single-Use Plastics (SUP), including plastic shopping bags, wrappers and containers, cutlery, straws, cups, stirrers, and water bottles, was put in place in 2019 and covers all our offices and facilities, including those of our subsidiaries, and our partners in the supply chain. By October 2020, a year after its launch, we collectively avoided over 150,000 kg of SUPs, equivalent to 15M plastic bottles.
We developed and implemented the #HealthWithoutHarm Program, a waste management initiative to ensure the safe and responsible disposal of waste generated in the wake of the pandemic. The program ensures that yellow bins are provided for COVID-19 waste, including face masks, face shields, and gloves, and that these are safely handled in temporary storage facilities before getting transported to treatment facilities by DENR-accredited haulers. This paves the way not only for a safer working environment for all Meralco employees but also for ensuring that hazardous waste is not dumped in landfills.
At the forefront of our transition to environment-safe materials is the use of natural ester oil in our distribution transformers (DT). A derivative of vegetable oil, natural ester oil is 99% biodegradable, recyclable, and non-toxic. By using ester oil in the operation and maintenance of our DTs, we are able to increase the efficiency and reliability of our network without endangering the environment.
As early as 2006, we started using natural ester oil in pad-mounted and vault-type distribution transformers. Currently, 100% of our 8,101 pad-mounted and vault-type transformers use this eco-friendly oil. In 2020, we elevated our thrust by using ester oil as an insulating fluid in our main overhead distribution transformers (OHDT). A total of 261 natural ester oil-enabled OHDTs were delivered to Meralco in 2020, and an estimated additional 14,500 will be rolled out starting September 2021. We likewise aim to retro-fill existing OHDTs with natural ester oil, which can further extend the life of these existing assets, and accelerate the replacement of our aging OHDTs with ester oil-powered transformers. Moving forward, we will use natural ester oil for all of our distribution transformers.
Our Green Mobility Program aims to significantly enlarge our efforts in vehicle electrification, helping to reduce our Scope 1 emissions and our vehicle operating expenses. Through this program, we deployed 59 electric motorcycles used by our Business Center field representatives for activities such as meter inspections. Beginning 2021, we will deploy close to 70 electric cars, electric vans, and electric utility vehicles to replace their internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts across our offices. These EVs will be used for our day-to-day operations, serving the purpose of their ICE counterparts but in an environment-friendly manner. A network of station chargers will also be strategically located in our key facilities to serve these new EVs. In addition, we will begin to electrify employee shuttle routes.
We promote a gender-balanced workplace, with 31.7% of our Group’s workforce comprised of female employees, significantly higher than the global energy sector average of 11%. To further narrow the gender gap, we cemented our commitment towards building a more gender-diverse and inclusive workplace by becoming among the first Filipino companies—and the only one from the energy sector—to sign the United Nations’ Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs). With the firm belief that workforce diversity and inclusion are important enablers of business performance and sustainable growth, we recently launched our Gender Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Program, with the aim of embedding the WEPs in our strategy and operations.
We consider our employees’ health and safety of paramount importance. CODE (Care Operations for Disasters and Emergencies) Light Bot is a digital initiative to minimize and manage incidents of COVID-19 among our workforce. It enables us to have a bird’s eye view of the health status of our employees, especially during the pandemic. In addition, the chatbot helps curb virus transmission through its contact tracing feature, which allows us to track and properly manage employees who had direct contact with a COVID-19 patient.
In addition, through CODE Light, we are able to pull real time air quality information (e.g., indoor and outdoor temperatures, humidity, particulate matter), gathered through our air quality sensors which are installed in strategic locations across our 23-hectare Meralco Operating Center headquarters. Implemented in partnership with our energy solutions subsidiary MServ, the air quality monitoring drive helps us provide a safer and healthier environment for those who frequent our compound.
We ensure our people’s overall wellness through our Orange Fit program. We encourage our employees to use our sports facilities, which include the Meralco Fitness Center and the ‘Orange Lane’—a dedicated walking/jogging path around the Meralco compound. We have institutionalized employee sports, hobby and interest clubs, after-work partnerships with yoga studios and gyms across Mega Manila, and bi-weekly group exercises such as Zumba and Crossfit. Our employees also have access to in-house counsellors and medical experts to nurture their mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being.
As part of our goal to create lasting value to all we serve, we undertake several initiatives that empower our customers through information and innovation. Through programs such as Bright Ideas and Orange Tag, we aim to enlighten them on electricity costs and energy efficiency to help them make informed choices in managing their own consumption. Bright Ideas is a customer information drive, imparting knowledge on small behavioral changes that customers can adopt and embrace to save energy. Examples include the use of inverter appliances, aircon rightsizing, and keeping refrigerators only 2/3 full. Orange Tag is a label attached to appliances, bearing their estimated costs of operations from an electricity spend standpoint, helping consumers make better choices on appliance purchases.
We also elevate the customer experience by harnessing technology to transform our processes. Our Virtual Customer Assistant (VCA) allows customers to speak to a Meralco customer care representative via video conferencing. By deploying virtual customer care representatives, we are able to attend to more customers and enable more transactions and queries to be processed in a given time frame. Since this digital innovation’s launch in June 2020, a total of 92 VCAs have been deployed across 56 collecting offices, supporting Meralco’s customers with better and more flexible service.
Recognizing that education is one of the most powerful instruments for sustainable development, we support nation-building by powering schools and empowering teachers so that the youth may be granted opportunities to thrive and excel. Since 2011, we, through One Meralco Foundation, have continually increased our efforts to bring sparks of joy to 260 off-grid public schools through green electrification. In addition, we provide digital teaching and learning tools, enabling teachers to innovate their teaching methods and enhancing the ability of their students to think critically and expand their creative skills. The program has empowered a total of 83,078 students and 2,605 teachers since its inception in 2011.
With our drive to inspire and influence our supply chain partners in their own sustainability journeys, we launched the Meralco Supplier Sustainability Scorecard (MS³). Established to assess vendors on key sustainability criteria and disclosures patterned after the GRI Standards as part of their continuing accreditation with Meralco, MS³ provides us a better view of our suppliers’ economic, environmental, social, and governance policies, processes, and initiatives. Through MS³, we are better positioned to champion sustainability principles throughout our business network and to ensure supplier adoption and adherence to our sustainability standards.