Meralco chairman says plan to go nuclear may take 10 years for PHL

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MANILA Electric Co. (Meralco) estimates a timeline of 10 years before nuclear power can be added to the country’s energy mix, its chairman said, as he urged the preparation for its inclusion to immediately start.

“I think the best we can do for the moment is take a vigilant watch on what is happening. We’re about five or 10 years away from making a decision. Is the country ready for it? I don’t think we’re ready,” Meralco Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said during a virtual press briefing last week.

The power distributor earlier said that it was looking at small modular reactors (SMRs) as part of its adoption of emerging technologies.

“But we should prepare for it now by educating our people. I think Meralco is prepared to sponsor Filipinos in that particular area,” Mr. Pangilinan said.

In 2022, Meralco said that it was in the process of applying for a grant from the United States to do a feasibility study on introducing nuclear energy in the Philippines.

“But it is very difficult to budget nuclear. For instance, if you’re looking at SMRs, the very first of its kind will be delivered only in 2028,” said Ray C. Espinosa, Meralco president and chief executive officer.

Meralco is “keenly looking” at how the pilot project of NuScale Power, LLC will proceed, he added.

Meralco’s controlling stakeholder, Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc., is partly owned by PLDT Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Ashley Erika O. Jose