Ah, Christmas

December 22, 2023

Ah, Christmas
Joseph Lacson is an accomplished business leader with extensive global expertise in investments, strategy, and business development. A Baker Scholar graduate of Harvard Business School, he has worked for companies like Procter and Gamble, Inc., Chope, and Microsoft, where he directly reported to business magnate and tech titan, Steve Ballmer. Joseph recently joined AboitizPower as its Chief Investment Officer, leading the investment efforts of the company across all facets — thermal and LNG, renewable energy, distribution, and emerging technologies.

Ah, Christmas. Visions of festively-lit city centers like those in Makati, BGC, Cebu, or Davao illuminating cheer to one and all. Sounds of carols (and Jose Mari Chan’s songs) heralding goodwill. Warm family reunions with loved ones from near and far in safe and comfortable surroundings. Sumptuous meals for Noche Buena. All these are scenes from a typical, bright Filipino Christmas.

But consider another scenario; one not as cheerful or bright. City centers lacking lighting. Silent nights not from choice. Uncomfortable and at times unsafe surroundings. No es una buena noche instead of Noche Buena. For many Filipinos, sadly, this scenario is more typical of their Christmas experience. The reality is that for millions of Filipinos, a well lit, vibrant, comfortable Christmas is but a dream. The importance of having sufficient, affordable and secure power to every Filipino household cannot be overemphasized especially during this season of Hope. (By the way, it isn’t just in the Philippines where electricity takes on “greater” importance during the Christmas season. The electricity used up in the UK during Christmas is sufficient to power up the Eiffel Tower for 50 years or Times Square in NYC for 7 years!).

It is in the spirit of Christmas that we’d like to tell you about some very recent gifts from the power sector that bring light, warmth and energy across the archipelago. Like Santa Claus, we bring you these gifts. Some already delivered; others on their way; but none on a sleigh.

A gift that has been delivered is the use of electric vehicles by your trusted power distribution utilities. Who better to spearhead a future with electric vehicles than your dependable distribution utilities who know a thing or two about providing affordable, reliable power. Visayan Electric, Davao Light and Cotabato Light recently announced the acquisition of an initial set of electric vehicles for their fleet requirements. This initial foray will not only enable the DUs to learn more about electric vehicles and how they impact their area’s power requirements but they’ll also help catalyze the adoption of electric vehicles.

A second present that has been unpacked is a brand new solar power plant in Ilocos that will deliver 94 megawatts of solar power to the Philippine grid. The Cayanga solar power plant in Bugallon, Pangasinan converts previously unutilized, non-agriculture, hilly terrain into a productive site generating renewable energy along with local jobs and economic progress.

A third regalo close to being completed is once again from our distribution utilities via their sitio electrification initiatives within their respective service areas. While 99% of these sitios received their Christmas gifts early — having already been electrified — a lot of work in Santa’s workshop still needs to be done. Kudos to Cotabato Light, in particular, for having captured that elusive 100% for two Christmases already, including this year’s! It makes this writer happy just imagining kids seeing and enjoying Christmas lights in their community for the first or second time around.

There are a lot more gifts that will come next year that will brighten up your day but it's best to have Santa talk about them at some future time. But since you’ve all been good in 2023, I can tell you about one more new gift that’s coming fairly soon into the coming new year. We are about to energize a new geothermal power facility in Tiwi, Albay. This Tiwi geothermal power plant adds non-variable renewable energy into the Philippine grid. This essentially means that even on cloudy days or at night or on days when the winds are weak — days that would bring solar and wind power plants to a standstill — this geothermal power facility will continue to generate electricity.

We hope that you and your loved ones enjoy these gifts as you enjoy a bright, cheerful, and comfortable Christmas. From the AboitizPower family to yours, Maligayang Pasko!

This piece was originally published in the Philippine Star on December 22, 2023.

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