Meralco

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MERALCO
Public
Traded as PSEMER and MERB
Industry Power distributor
Founded January 17, 1895
Headquarters Meralco Center, Ortigas Avenue, Pasig, Metro Manila, Philippines
Key people
Manuel V. Pangilinan, Chairman
Oscar S. Reyes, President and CEO
Owner see list
Website www.meralco.com.ph

The Manila Electric Company (PSEMER and MERB), also known as Meralco (stylized in its logo as MERALCO), is the Philippines' largest distributor of electrical power. It is Metro Manila's only electric power distributor and holds the power distribution franchise for 22 cities and 89 municipalities, including the whole of the National Capital Region and the exurbs that form Mega Manila.

The name "Meralco" is an acronym for Manila Electric Railroad And Light COmpany, which was the company's original name until 1919.

History[edit]

La Electricista[edit]

Organized in 1891 and beginning operations in late 1894, La Electricista was the first electric company to provide electricity to Manila towards the close of the Spanish era. La Electricista had built a central power plant on Calle San Sebastian (now Hidalgo Street [1][2] ) in Quiapo, Manila.[3] On January 17, 1895, its streetlights were turned on for the first time and by 1903, it had about 3,000 electric light customers.

Founding of the Manila Electric Railroad and Light Company[edit]

On October 20, 1902, during the American Colonial Period, the Second Philippine Commission began accepting bids to operate Manila's electric tramway, and by extension, providing electricity to the city and its suburbs. Detroit entrepreneur Charles M. Swift was the sole bidder and on March 24, 1903, was granted the original basic franchise of the Manila Electric Company.[4]

The Manila Electric Company acquired La Electricista and the Compañía de los Tranvías de Filipinas, a firm that ran Manila's horse-drawn tramways.[5] Construction on the electric tramway began that same year. In addition to acquiring La Electricista's Calle San Sebastian power plant, the company built its own steam generating plant on Isla Provisora (later becoming the Manila Thermal Power Plant), which powered the tram system and eventually also the electric service. By 1906, the Manila Electric Company's annual power output capacity was around eight million kWh.

Manila Suburban Railways Company[edit]

Swift was awarded another franchise in 1906 to operate a 9.8 kilometres (6.1 mi) extension line from Paco to Fort McKinley and Pasig and founded the Manila Suburban Railway to operate this franchise.[4] In 1919 this company merged with the Manila Electric Company.[4] This extension was one of the most profitable of Meralco's lines.[4]

By the 1920, Meralco had a 170-strong fleet of streetcars, before switching over to buses later in that decade.

The company operated 52-miles of trams until World War II. The equipment and tracks of the system was severely damaged during the war and had to be removed.[6]

Power generation and distribution[edit]

By 1915, electricity generation and distribution became the main Meralco's main income generator, overtaking its public transportation operations in terms of revenue. In 1919, it changed its official name to Manila Electric Company. By 1920, the company's power capacity had grown to 45 million kWh.

In 1925, Meralco, was acquired by the utility holding company Associated Gas and Electric or AGECO (reorganized as General Public Utilities Corporation or GPU in 1946), which had begun a massive expansion throughout the United States and the Dominion of Canada. With AGECO's financial backing, Meralco began acquiring a number of existing utility companies in the Philippines, enabling the company to expand beyond Manila.

By 1930, Meralco had completed construction of the Philippine's first hydroelectric power plant, the 23MW Botocan Hydro Station.[citation needed] At the time, this plant was one of the largest engineering projects in Asia[citation needed] and constituted the largest single private capital investment in the Philippines.[citation needed] The additional capacity allowed the company to begin hooking up customers throughout the metropolitan area.

Meralco office (Malolos City Cultural and Heritage house.)

To drive demand for more power, Meralco also opened a retail store in order to sell electric home appliances.[citation needed]

World War II[edit]

During the Second World War, the Japanese occupying forces forcibly transferred all of Meralco's assets and holdings to the Japanese-controlled Taiwan Power Company. By war's end, most of the former Meralco facilities had been destroyed.

After the war, Meralco's autobus franchise was sold to Halili Transport.

In 1962, Don Eugenio López, Sr. acquired Meralco and finally making it wholly Filipino-owned. During 1962-72, he increased Meralco's power generating capacity five times with the building of additional power stations in the Manila area with two more planned in Rizal Province.

Martial Law era[edit]

In 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law and issued Presidential Decree № 40, which nationalised the country's electric generation and transmission.

The eldest of Don Eugenio's children were arrested in order to persuade him to turn over his businesses to the regime. Eugenio Lopez, Jr. ("Geny") was charged with conspiring to assassinate the President. With his son held hostage, Don Eugenio was forced to give up his holdings in a group of companies worth several hundred million dollars, but Geny was not released from prison.

Ownership of the company was placed under a shell company called the Meralco Foundation, Inc., controlled by cronies under the newly created state-run National Power Corporation (Napocor). By 1978, all of the Philippines' major power plants were owned and operated by Napocor, including the Metro Manila plants that Meralco had built beforehand in the 1960s. State control for the company, however, began in 1975, given the company's rising debt and financial problems during the decade. By the end of the Martial Law period in 1981, Meralco expanded even further into Cavite and western parts of Laguna, Rizal and Quezon provinces, as well as parts of southern Bulacan.

Post-EDSA[edit]

Meralco (López) Building along Ortigas Avenue, Pasig, Metro Manila.

State control of Meralco lasted until after the People Power Revolution in February 1986, which toppled the Marcos dictatorship. President Corazon Aquino reverted company ownership to the López Family, without them paying for the state-funded improvements done during Martial Law. She also enacted an executive order that allowed the company to directly compete with Napocor.[7]

2008 legislative investigation on high power rates[edit]

Meralco is facing a Philippine legislative inquiry/investigation for alleged excessive pricing.[8] The government has considered a plan to take over Meralco, to reduce electricity bills. Meralco and National Transmission Corporation (TransCo) blamed each other for the high power rates.[9] Meralco also blames high power generation costs, high transmission costs and government taxes imposed on the electricity sector from power generation to distribution. Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) President Winston García, however, blamed Meralco's inefficiency, its "bloated bureaucracy" and its sourcing of power from independent power producers (IPPs) also owned by the López Family, and the need to amend the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001. Oscar López said that if the GSIS would buy the Meralco shares, they must buy in whole cash, while many businessmen also said that taking over Meralco is not the way to reduce electrical price, which depends on the national government and the President. The issue was also seen as a purposeful diversion from the then-ongoing ZTE NBN scandal and other government issues.[10] A perceived lack of general understanding regarding the issue of system loss, inherent in the business of utilities prompted Meralco's former holding company, First Philippine Holdings, to issue advertisements explaining systems loss.

Syndicated estafa and bribery case[edit]

The Department of Justice (Philippines) filed syndicated (fraud) charges against Meralco in its August 22, 2008 31-page resolution, filed with the Pasig Regional Trial Court. The May 29 National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reform (Nasecore) complaint accused Meralco of "illegally declaring as income ₱889 million in consumers’ money, which represents interest from meter and bill deposits consumers had been paying since 1995."[11] No bail was recommended for all the accused, 2006 officers of Meralco, to wit: Meralco chairman and CEO Manuel Lopez, executive vice president and chief financial officer Daniel Tagaza, first Vice-resident and treasurer Rafael Andrada, vice president and corporate auditor and compliance officer Helen De Guzman, vice president and assistant comptroller Antonio Valera, and senior assistant vice president and assistant treasurer Manolo Fernando; 2006 Meralco directors Arthur Defensor Jr., Gregory Domingo, Octavio Victor Espiritu, Christian Monsod, Federico Puno, Washington Sycip, Emilio Vicens, Francisco Viray and former Prime Minister Cesar Virata.

Nasecore's complaint accusing Meralco of "illegally declaring as income 889 million pesos in consumers’ money, which represents interest from meter and bill deposits consumers had been paying since 1995," was immediately refuted by the accused company as the alleged ₱889 million only stemmed from a generally accepted accounting principle of reversing Meralco's earlier provision for meter deposit interests which, earlier set at 10% per annum was deemed too high and was set to the recommended 6%.[12] Meralco also questioned how a syndicated estafa case can arise when it has already announced and committed that it will be refunding to customers who paid meter deposit principals plus interest months ahead of the ERC prescribed schedule and has allocated enough funds for the said refund.

Meralco is also involved in the GSIS-Meralco bribery case.[13]

Dismissal of syndicated estafa case[edit]

On October 6, 2008, the Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 71 dismissed the syndicated estafa case filed against the Meralco board of directors, for the prosecution failed to establish all the elements of syndicated estafa.[14]

Presiding Judge Franco Falcon, pointed out in the ruling that the board is not the kind described by the law as being formed to perpetrate an illegal act for the board of directors were elected by stockholders. The court explained, “Therefore, the accused can never be charged of taking part in the commission of syndicated estafa not only because they are not part of a syndicate as contemplated by law in PD 1689, but more so, because there was absolutely no estafa committed.”

According to Philippine law, to constitute syndicated estafa, the subject money or property must be received by the offenders. The money represents the accrued interests on the bill and meter deposits, which were paid by Meralco customers, not directly to the board, but to the various Meralco business centers where the customers transacted. Meralco expressed elation over the dismissal.[15]

Service area[edit]

Meralco's franchise area.

Meralco serves Metro Manila, where it is the sole electricity distributor, as well as some nearby provinces, like Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon. Bulacan, Cavite, and Rizal are solely served by Meralco, but on some provinces, it only serves some parts, like in Laguna, Batangas, and Quezon, where most or some areas are served by electric cooperatives. In Laguna and Quezon, most part of those provinces are served by the company, but other areas, mostly rural municipalities, are served by electric cooperatives. In Batangas, only Santo Tomas, the First Philippine Industrial Park in Tanauan, Batangas City, and San Pascual are served by Meralco, and the rest of the province are franchise areas of electric cooperatives.

City/Municipality Province/Metropolitan Area
Caloocan Metro Manila
Las Piñas Metro Manila
Makati Metro Manila
Malabon Metro Manila
Mandaluyong Metro Manila
Manila Metro Manila
Marikina Metro Manila
Muntinlupa Metro Manila
Navotas Metro Manila
Parañaque Metro Manila
Pasay Metro Manila
Pasig Metro Manila
Pateros Metro Manila
Quezon City Metro Manila
San Juan Metro Manila
Taguig Metro Manila
Valenzuela Metro Manila
Angat Bulacan
Balagtas Bulacan
Bocaue Bulacan
Bulacan Bulacan
Bustos Bulacan
Calumpit Bulacan
Guiguinto Bulacan
Hagonoy Bulacan
Malolos Bulacan
Marilao Bulacan
Meycauayan Bulacan
Norzagaray Bulacan
Obando Bulacan
Pandi Bulacan
Paombong Bulacan
Plaridel Bulacan
Pulilan Bulacan
San Ildefonso Bulacan
San Jose Del Monte Bulacan
San Miguel Bulacan
San Rafael Bulacan
Santa Maria Bulacan
Batangas Batangas
San Pascual Batangas
Santo Tomas Batangas
Alfonso Cavite
Amadeo Cavite
Bacoor Cavite
Carmona Cavite
Cavite Cavite
Dasmariñas Cavite
General Emilio Aguinaldo Cavite
General Mariano Alvarez Cavite
General Trias Cavite
Imus Cavite
Indang Cavite
Kawit Cavite
Magallanes Cavite
Maragondon Cavite
Mendez Cavite
Naic Cavite
Noveleta Cavite
Rosario Cavite
Silang Cavite
Tagaytay Cavite
Tanza Cavite
Ternate Cavite
Trece Martires Cavite
Alaminos Laguna
Bay Laguna
Cabuyao Laguna
Calamba Laguna
Calauan Laguna
Liliw Laguna
Los Baños Laguna
Luisiana Laguna
Magdalena Laguna
Majayjay Laguna
Nagcarlan Laguna
Pila Laguna
Rizal Laguna
San Pablo Laguna
San Pedro Laguna
Santa Cruz Laguna
Santa Rosa Laguna
Victoria Laguna
Candelaria Quezon
Dolores Quezon
Lucban Quezon
Lucena Quezon
Mauban Quezon
Pagbilao Quezon
Sampaloc Quezon
San Antonio Quezon
Sariaya Quezon
Tayabas Quezon
Tiaong Quezon
Angono Rizal
Antipolo Rizal
Baras Rizal
Binangonan Rizal
Cainta Rizal
Cardona Rizal
Jalajala Rizal
Morong Rizal
Pililla Rizal
Rodriguez Rizal
San Mateo Rizal
Tanay Rizal
Taytay Rizal
Teresa Rizal

Ownership[edit]

as of December 31, 2013 [16]

Sell-offs and acquisitions[edit]

San Miguel acquisition of GSIS stake[edit]

In October 2008, food and beverage conglomerate San Miguel Corporation acquired GSIS's entire 27 percent stake in Meralco at ₱90 per share or a total of ₱26 billion.

Sports teams[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Martinez, Glenn. "Old street names of Manila". Traveller on foot. Wordpress. 
  2. ^ "Manila then and now". Blog. Ivan Lakwatsero. Retrieved 20 December 2013.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  3. ^ "Calle San Sebastian - Old photos". Flickr. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d Satre, Gary L. (June 1998). "The Metro Manila LRT System— A Historical Perspective" (PDF) (16). Japan Railway & Transport Review. Retrieved 18 November 2015. 
  5. ^ "ELECTRICAL SERVICE IN THE PHILIPPINES; A 40,000 Horsepower Central Station Now Serves Manila and Suburbs. NEW PLAN BUILT IN 1905 Demand for Electric Lighting Grew Rapidly--6,000 Lamps in Streets Now. Pioneers on the Payroll. Nipa Hut Dwellers". New York Times. February 5, 1928. Retrieved 25 April 2017. 
  6. ^ Lexis Nexis (1974). Mass Transit. PTN Pub. Co. p. 58. Retrieved 2008-06-15. 
  7. ^ Bello, Walden; Marissa De Guzman; Mary Lou Malig; Herbert Docena (2005). The Anti-development State: The Political Economy of Permanent Crisis in the Philippines. Zed Books. p. 293. ISBN 1-84277-631-2. Retrieved 2008-06-15. 
  8. ^ GMA NEWS.TV, House panel begins probe into high power rates
  9. ^ Abs-Cbn Interactive, Meralco, Napocor point fingers on high power rates
  10. ^ Abs-Cbn Interactive, High power rates blamed on Meralco, gov't, IPPs
  11. ^ gmanews.tv, DOJ charges Meralco with syndicated estafa
  12. ^ DOJ files estafa raps vs Meralco
  13. ^ newsinfo.inquirer.net, DoJ files syndicated fraud raps vs Meralco execs
  14. ^ "Instilling a culture of peace among Muslim, Christian kids". BusinessMirror. 
  15. ^ http://balita.ph/2008/10/15/meralco-exec-expresses-elation-for-dismissal-of-estafa-case-filed-by-doj/
  16. ^ [1]