The Clark Special Economic Zone is gearing up to become Central Luzon’s economic hub

by Esmi Barrera
3 MINS READ
PUBLISHED OCTOBER 2019

 

When a magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit Luzon in April 22, it triggered outages in Pampanga and nearby provinces.

The Clark Electric Distribution Corp. (CEDC) and its president Redel Domingo had encountered brief blackouts before—mainly due to heavy rains with strong winds, but also lightning strikes and friction against power lines from bird contact, tree branches, and foreign objects.

But this was another level entirely and the CEDC was more than up to the challenge.

“We restored power in two hours,” Domingo recalls, “and our customers used the time to check on their facilities. Our major power source tripped, as it should; that’s why so much protection is built into the system. But,” he also explains, “another power source would be a more lasting solution.”

This high level of expertise and quick response shouldn’t come as a surprise. It is actually to be expected of Domingo and the CEDC. After all, they are both of Manila Electric Company (Meralco) stock – the country’s largest utilities company that has weathered all kinds of disasters in the past 116 years.

What is the CEDC?

CEDC is the result of a 1997 joint-venture agreement. It was signed by Clark Development Corp. between Angeles Electric Corp. and Meralco Industrial Engineering Services Corp. (Miescor), a wholly owned Meralco subsidiary for electromechanical, engineering, distribution and technical services, and telecommunication projects. Now, its biggest task to date is to energize the Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ).

Infographic by Jam Larios

CEDC is the sole electric distributor inside the 31,400-hectare CSEZ, which covers Porac, Angeles and Mabalacat in Pampanga; and Bamban and Capas in Tarlac province. With the CSEZ gearing itself to deliver on its long-overdue promise of becoming an economic powerhouse, it is a job that CEDC is not taking lightly. Every inch is demanded of CEDC to deliver as CSEZ stakes its claim as a hub for industry, export business, aviation, and higher learning, and as Central Luzon’s leisure, entertainment and gaming center.

Scene zones

Today, Clark is subdivided into the Clark Freeport Zone (CFZ), Clark Global City, Clark International Airport, and New Clark City. CEDC’s franchise area covers the airport and freeport zone. CEDC has 26 contestable customers – businesses which have the freedom to choose their electricity provider – of less than 2,400, in a franchise area of about 20,000 hectares, including the Sacobia region.

To assure the area’s growth, CEDC promises extensive upgrades and reduced outages. By completing the looping of the electrical systems, customers can transfer from one point to another without service interruption. “We’re building up capacity,” Domingo confirms, “to double or triple the requirement.”

Build capacity, boost reliability

Domingo’s democratic-by-default, transformational leadership was honed as a Meralco lifer, starting out as a cadet engineer before he could even put away his college textbooks.

He took over CEDC in December 2018, with the mantra of “Build capacity,” convinced that an infrastructure upgrade is needed for future investors and current locators. The franchise area hosts mainly multinational export companies from the US, Japan, Taiwan, and Korea, and restaurants, hotels and casinos.

The prompt response to customer-specific power outages—as in the April 22 quake—is thanks to CEDC’s remote access to multiple sites over large distances, using Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA). This networked system lets CEDC remotely monitor and resolve power line outages in real time.

To keep up with its customers, CEDC is implementing Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) for its facilities and equipment. This system is used to plan, optimize, and track all maintenance activities.

Both SCADA and EAM are essential tools in fulfilling CEDC’s primary mission. “What we have right now is just 20 percent of our franchise area’s full potential,” Domingo discloses. “Once we harness that potential, everything will grow.

“We already have the additional transformer capacity to almost double up the capacity of Clark! The ultimate plan is to grow the capacity requirement, fivefold.

“We are open to franchise area expansion,” he also says, “and explore growth through non-regulated businesses. We plan to provide beyond-the-meter services such as energy audits and consultations.”

Domingo is eager for customers to regard Clark Electric as a true partner in their pursuit of productivity and profit. “CEDC will be a catalyst for growth within the freeport zone,” he declares. “We hope to help everyone harness the area’s full potential.”

Source: MERALCO Corporate Partner