FEDERICO R. LOPEZAs I write this, we’re down to the final days of 2023 recounting our own stories of self-discovery, finding joys, exploring opportunities, overcoming challenges and celebrating triumphs that made this year memorable. We also remember all the people who have been with us through this journey—our family, friends and colleagues. The one significant presence I am deeply missing is that of my Dad, our late chairman emeritus Oscar M. Lopez, who passed on April 22 just after celebrating his 93rd birthday. But I know he’s now happily reunited with my Mom and the rest of his siblings—including Tito Manolo who passed away in January—and his parents in Heaven. The passing of OML and MML marks the passage of a generation in our family and the Lopez Group.
Over the last 13 years since my Dad passed on the FPH chairmanship to me, he rarely ever issued a directive over what we should be doing except for one thing: make sure our companies last more than 400 years. He was always a man of few words but I hope it meant he was pleased with how we were handling the torch and carrying on his marching order for our companies to go four centuries further. Dad always wished that our businesses be “Built to Last.” To build companies that would continue to uplift lives hundreds of years into the future. I told him that by definition, those dreams will never be completed in his, or even my lifetime. We just have to build such that the Lopez vision and values will be honed, improved and kept relevant to the times from one torchbearer to the next, with a legacy so powerful it compels each one to continue building on that dream. Success means that our work is never completed but merely handed down and enriched through countless generations of builders, not unlike many of the great cathedrals of Europe. A life well-lived like his just ripples through time and its influence is felt far into the future. In this sense, his journey never ends.
Today, we do what we do because we share the same DNA and the same commitment for many things that were so close to my Dad’s heart. Seeds he planted a long time ago that we are in turn sowing throughout our companies in the way we choose to do business. That DNA is at the heart of our recasted mission for the Group of “forging collaborative pathways toward a decarbonized and regenerative future” which envisions us aligning our profit engines toward solutions for the greatest problems of our times, a kinder form of capitalism that aspires to regenerate everything we touch.
Bear in mind that 2023 is likely to be the hottest year on historical record and possibly the hottest it’s ever been in the last 125,000 years. It’s why we’ve been focusing our efforts largely on helping to reduce the carbon intensity of the electricity grid and then ultimately to decarbonize it. We’ve made it our business to shepherd the country’s energy transition to Net Zero within the rapidly diminishing timeframe of the next 26 years. Our ultimate goal is to solve the climate emergency that’s manifesting in the increasing number of extreme weather events being felt in every part of the world every single day now.
We view our diverse portfolio of clean and renewable energy sources as a key enabler to a greener electricity grid. Our target is to grow our low carbon energy portfolio to 13,000 megawatts (MW) by 2030, of which 9,000 MW will be renewables. We’ve already lined up our expansion and growth projects utilizing our various fuels of geothermal, hydro, natural gas, and even potentially expanding our solar and wind power facilities.
We’ve achieved notable milestones this year alone. Foremost is the completion and commissioning of First Gen’s LNG terminal. After demonstrating its ability to send out regasified LNG to our power plants while simultaneously loading LNG from the LNG carrier into the BW Batangas (our floating storage and regasification unit vessel), our LNG terminal is now ready to perform its designated role in shepherding the decline of Malampaya gas, supplementing it with LNG as needed, to improve the energy security of our country. It’s also worth mentioning that our Sta.Rita and San Lorenzo plants remain in excellent condition even after some 20+ years of operations. Last May 2023, we won the bid for the 165- MW Casecnan hydro facility that, in combination with our Pantabangan-Masiway plants and our planned Project Aya pumped storage facility, gives us control over such a unique hydro asset complex: zerocarbon, bought for less than it costs to build, lasts perpetually and dovetails with our regenerative goals of caring for the surrounding forest ecosystems and watersheds. We anticipate the turnover of the Casecnan facility in the first quarter of 2024 and look forward to integrating this complex even more into our way to play.
On the other hand, our other subsidiaries are finding pathways toward their respective growth flywheels. First Philec, aside from doubling its net income last year, is expected to now consistently break through the billion-peso net income mark. More impressively, it is taking its way to play into the US markets and riding the “electrify everything” wave that is aligned with our goal of Net Zero by 2050. If they do it right, it’s an amazing and scalable flywheel in the making. First Balfour and ThermaPrime are supporting and riding the massive and unprecedented geothermal drilling and expansion campaign of EDC in the coming years. Rockwell and FPIP are pursuing distinct development models in the real estate sector: the former targets exclusivity whereas the latter, industrial job generation and inclusivity. Although distinct in approach they are strategically complementary to our FPH portfolio. Definitely strong brands and flywheels in the making as well if we play our cards right.
Through all these, I can only feel excitement for what still lies ahead for our group of companies as we continue to journey toward a decarbonized and regenerative future. I wish you and your loved ones a blessed Christmas and a brighter and prosperous 2024!
FEDERICO R. LOPEZ