One hundred years ago, Peter Nepomuceno’s mother, Teresa Nepomuceno, borrowed some money to start an energy company named Angeles Light and Power Plant, which is now called the Angeles Electric Corporation.
The entrepreneur extraordinaire already owned an ice plant business but embraced further risk, with a driving motivator being the need to light their local church in the Philippines.
Nepomuceno is now the Chairman, President and CEO of Raslag, an industry-leading renewable energy developer and family corporation, which has undergone massive transformation since his mother founded Angeles Electric all those years ago.
“You have to be fair with your employees and your suppliers, your community and, of course, your family.”
Taking over the business in his final year of college at just 22, Nepomuceno had to get up to speed quickly. The outlook was bleak and a turnaround was needed.
“The system loss was over 30 percent. We were barely making any money,” he tells The CEO Magazine. “We couldn’t connect new customers, because if we did, the engines we had back then would overload and fail.”
In one of many masterstrokes throughout his tenure, Nepomuceno overcame crippling government import controls – preventing the purchase of new generating units or spare parts – by buying units from junkyards.
Instead of hurting the community by increasing rates to counter the system loss, he changed the system from 2,400 to 13,800 volts and replaced all transformers to more efficient General Electric Distribution Transformers.
Then, in the early 90s, in the throes of an energy crisis, he invested in the 30-megawatt Calibu Diesel Power Plant, which still runs today.
Of all of these critical moves, arguably his greatest success was being an early adopter of solar energy. Ten years ago, he identified the need for sustainable energy solutions to meet the unprecedented surge in power demand across Angeles City.
Raslag-1 became one of the first solar systems to be introduced in the region. Nepomuceno proudly explains it was only the second to be awarded the FIT (feed-in tariff) rate one – a 20-year guaranteed above-market price to support producers.
The capacity of each panel in Raslag-1 was 260 watts. The company are now in the construction phase of Raslag-4, which will utilize 670 watts per panel upon completion.
Nepomuceno has since taken Raslag public on the Philippine Stock Exchange, securing US$14.1 million in the initial public offering and ensuring a prosperous future.
“It’s not a one-man team. It’s our people who really work hard and fast to be able to put up these solar farms.”
Indeed, from the commercial plants operating currently, Raslag has an energy output of 41 megawatts. Under construction are additional plants that will add a further 36 megawatts, and a further 103 megawatt-producing projects are in the pipeline.
None of this would have been possible without the strength of his team, he says.
“It’s not a one-man team. It’s our people who really work hard and fast to be able to put up these solar farms,” Nepomuceno says. “They are the reason why we were able to get the FIT rates ahead of others.”
“One of the things I learned from my mother when it comes to dealing with people is: do not take advantage of them. I also learned not to try to embarrass people, particularly employees. If they feel embarrassed, subconsciously, they lose their initiative and enthusiasm for work,” he says.
“As we say, ‘Kung maliit na bagay na lang, huwag mo na lang pagalitan’, which basically means, if it’s just a small thing, don’t scold him or her. I have adopted the square deal that you have to be fair with your employees and your suppliers, your community and, of course, your family.”
It’s a philosophy he takes to work daily. “Our office building for Angeles Electric is a square building, symbolizing the square deal of the company,” he says.
“Our family is well-respected because of my parents and the values they have passed onto us.”
Nepomuceno notes the company has a scholarship foundation that is exclusively for priests. “A portion of our profits goes to this foundation, and we are fortunate that at least one every year is ordained,” he says. “This was the last wish of my father.”
What began with one woman’s benevolent mission to bring electricity to her local church in 1923 has developed today into her family bringing solar energy and sustainable outcomes to an entire region.
Nepomuceno says he credits much of his business acumen and leadership style to his mother and points to the legacy set by his parents as a reason for the goodwill within the region.
“My parents had been very charitable and generous. They have helped a lot of people and supported the church,” he says. “Our family is well-respected because of my parents and the values they have passed onto us.”