By: RICHMOND MERCURIO (The Philippine Star) – 1 Jun 2018

Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) will soon serve as the new power distribution utility in the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport to address the electricity woes of its locators, the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) said.

CEZA administrator and CEO Raul Lambino said his agency and the country’s largest power distributor are “just ironing some things out” and a memorandum of agreement should be signed soon.

Lambino said tapping Meralco is part of CEZA’s efforts to ensure reliable and affordable supply of power to its locators.

“We will address the issue of power. Let me assure you that we will bring down the cost of power in the zone to be really, really competitive,” he said.

“Right now, the cost of power in Cagayan is one of the reasons why investors are not so encouraged to locate. So we are going to address that,” Lambino added.

He said CEZA is also eyeing to have its own power plants situated within the economic zone.

“We are going to construct also our own power generation plants and of course our priority is to approximate the cost of pollution. I’m also talking now with Sta. Clara, a power development company that has a project in Isabela for an 11-megawatt hydro, and I said I will purchase, I’m ready to sign power purchase agreement anytime,” he said.

“I’m also talking with solar companies. I’m willing to sign with you for as long as you can assure me the cost of power will be competitive, something that is going to benefit our locators,” Lambino added.

CEZA recently signed 21 offshore fintech firms engaged in blockchain and cryptocurrency operations that will bring in fresh investments of about P2 billion in the next two years to locate in the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport.

CEZA has made a pivot to transform the freeport into a fintech hub following an extended campaign to eradicate illegal offshore gaming operators in 2017 and revoking the licenses of some 164 companies.

Lambino earlier said working with virtual currency companies would give the Philippines “momentum in providing an environment that encourages financial innovation and inclusion, while ensuring adequate protection for the best interests of the country, the financial system, consumers, and investors.”