Manila Electric Company
...addressing a future need, ok yan MER Smile

Meralco creates unit to set up charging stations for e-vehicles

MANILA ELECTRIC Co. (Meralco) has created a new subsidiary that will be engaged in owning, maintaining and operating a network of charging stations for electric vehicles, the company told the stock exchange on Tuesday.

“We see opportunity in the development of e-vehicles moving forward. At the same time, it’s also pro-environment. So we wanted to also contribute, of course, to the reduction in [carbon] emissions,” William S. Pamintuan, Meralco’s lead lawyer, told reporters on Tuesday.

“It is common knowledge that transport is the number one emitter of carbon emission in the country right now,” he added.

In its disclosure, Meralco said the new subsidiary’s network will also serve batteries and vehicles using electric energy and other alternative energy sources. It has yet to decide a name for the entity. The move has been approved by its board of directors.

Mr. Pamintuan said the new unit will tap “new opportunities,” including stimulating demand for electricity as e-vehicles are additional consumers of electricity.

“So hopefully it will also drive increased consumption moving forward and increased demand,” he said.

Lawrence S. Fernandez, Meralco vice-president and head of utility economics, said the company was looking at putting up the charging stations within the distribution utility’s franchise area — largely Metro Manila.

“The target will first be public utility vehicles, so e-trikes, e-jeeps, e-shuttles,” he said, adding that the next opportunity would possibly be private e-vehicles.

Part of the plan is to create an e-vehicle ecosystem, he said.

“It’s a developing market… In other countries, they’ve shown that there’s already a trend to shift away from internal combustion engines to e-vehicles. We think that they also might be a market for that in the Philippines, especially e-vehicles,” he said.

Mr. Fernandez said the pilot charging station to be put up by Meralco accepts both European and Japanese standards, currently the accepted benchmark for the industry worldwide.

Meralco’s move comes as another group in the energy sector has made headway in creating an e-vehicle ecosystem.

The rival — QEV Philippines Electromobility Solutions and Consulting Group, Inc. — said in October that it was looking to install 100 fast chargers in SM malls and another 100 in Shell stations, in line with its target of putting up 200 charging stations by 2022.

QEV Philippines said it was aiming to complete the first 50 within the first half of 2018. It is also focused on building an ecosystem of electric chargers and electric vehicles, and bringing them together to develop a market.

At present, separate companies put up the charging stations and the electric vehicles, but not an ecosystem where both can thrive, she said. QEV Philippines’ parent, QEV Capital Pte. Ltd., is doing the same initiative globally.

QEV Philippines is the joint venture between Filipino businessman Enrique M. Aboitiz and his Spanish business partner Enrique Bañuelos.

On Tuesday, shares in Meralco rose 0.74% to close at P326.60 each.

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Meralco may lower power rates in January

Customers of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) can expect power rates to go down at the start of the year due to lower capacity fees from power generators arising from fewer power outages.

“Hopefully there will be another reduction in January...if we will use historical records as basis, normally rates are lower in January,” Meralco spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga said.

However, he said the January rates would still have to factor in the final computation from generators and the transmission operator.

The projected rate reduction next month is due to lower demand that led to fewer outages from power plants during the supply month.

“Generators are given a particular outage allowance per year,” Zaldarriaga said, noting these are translated into capacity fees.

Capacity fees are determined through the annual reconciliation of outage allowances that is done at the end of each year under the contracts approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission.

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“The generators have a capacity fee per year which is divided by the number of days that they are available,” Meralco head of utility economics Lawrence Fernandez said.

For instance, if power generators do not exceed their outage allowance, their capacity fees are already paid in full and would no longer be reflected for the month of January, he said.

However, the capacity fees from suppliers will normalize in the following month.

This month, Meralco’s overall rate decreased by P0.3785 per kilowatt-hour (kwh) to P9.2487 per kwh, from P9.6272 per kwh in November.

The power distributor attributed the decline to the reduction in generation charge--a power bill’s largest component, pulled down by the appreciation of the peso and a drop in wholesale electricity spot market (WESM) prices.

The movements of the peso-dollar exchange largely affect the generation charge because around 97 percent of independent power producers (IPP) costs are dollar-denominated.

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Meralco unit to invest P3.5 B for 2 power projects

The power generating unit of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) has invested P3.5 billion for its two power projects currently under development, company officials said.

Meralco PowerGen Corp. (MGen) president and CEO Rogelio Singson said the company has poured in billions of pesos for the immediate construction of its two power projects in Quezon and Zambales once the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) grants their respective power supply agreements (PSA).

So far, MGen has spent P2.8 billion for the 2x300-megawatt (MW) circulating fluidized bed coal-fired power plant in Subic, Zambales under Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc. (RP Energy), MGen senior vice president Angelito Lantin said.

Meanwhile, Lantin said P700 million was already spent for the 2x600-MW ultra supercritical coal-fired power plant under wholly-owned subsidiary Atimonan One Energy Inc. (A1E).

Supply contracts of these two power projects are still hanging with the ERC.

In April 2016, Meralco signed a power supply deal with RP Energy for a 225-MW supply and with A1E for the plant’s full output once completed.

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RP Energy is a consortium composed of MGen (47 percent), AboitizPower unit Therma Power Inc. (25 percent) and Taiwan Cogeneration International Corp. (25 percent).

RP Energy has signed a construction contract with local company Azul Torre Construction Inc. and supply contract with Korean firm Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co. Ltd. to build the power project.

On the other hand, A1E’s first 600-MW unit is expected to be completed by 2021. It has an estimated project cost of around P135 billion.

For the Atimonan project, MGen has signed a mandate letter for a loan of up to P107.5 billion from eight banks.

It is also tapping Irish firm ESB International, a wholly-owned firm by the Electricity Supply Board, Ireland, to become its operations and management partner for the Atimonan plant.

Under the deal, ESBI will also provide knowledge transfer to MGen in running the Atimonan plant.

MGen said it is also evaluating bids from three potential engineering, procurement and construction contractors and is scouting for prospective partners in the project.

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...good move

Meralco to invest in 2 wind farms

MANILA ELECTRIC Co. (Meralco) is looking to invest around $800 million in two wind farms, its president said, as he disclosed details about the company’s plan to expand its portfolio to include 300 megawatts (MW) of the renewable energy.

“You’re talking 300 MW. So [the investment is] probably lower than $900 million. At $3 million per MW, make it $800 million, plus or minus,” Oscar S. Reyes, Meralco president and chief executive officer, told reporters on Tuesday.

He said on a 75%-25% debt-equity ratio for project financing, Meralco would need to invest roughly $200 million if it would shoulder the full equity portion.

“I think it will take maybe 24 months for the whole [investment to be spent],” Mr. Reyes said.

Asked why Meralco is diversifying into wind energy, he said: “We have gotten indications that are attractively priced to us because they are significantly lower than second round FiT (feed-in-tariff) rates.”

Mr. Reyes was referring to the guaranteed tariff of P7.40 per kilowatt-hour for 20 years that was awarded to early investors in wind energy. He said the output of the wind farms would be supplied to Meralco in a future power supply agreement (PSA). 

He said the 300 MW wind farm is broken down as two 150-MW projects that are under development. 

“They are developing and they are inviting us to… provide the PSA of their output and at the same time, see if we are interested to invest,” Mr. Reyes said. “We are focusing first on the PSA.”

“Investment is still to be discussed,” he said. “We’d like to be an enabler. If they don’t need the investment, we remain open. It’s up to them whether they [will] welcome [us].”

Mr. Reyes said the wind energy investment of Meralco would be housed under subsidiary Meralco PowerGen Corp. (MGen).

Rogelio L. Singson, MGen president and chief executive officer, earlier said that Meralco’s utility scale power development subsidiary had been looking at wind energy proposals and might make a decision on investing early this year.

Ahead of the proposed renewable energy projects, MGen is developing several coal-fired power plants, including the 100% company-owned ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plant under subsidiary Atimonan One Energy, Inc. 

The two-unit plant, each with a capacity of 600 MW, is awaiting Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) approval of its power supply agreement (PSA). 

MGen has a 47% stake in Redondo Peninsula Energy, Inc. (RP Energy), which is awaiting the ERC approval of its PSA with Meralco for 225 MW of the first of two 300-MW units, and 75 MW with the retail electricity supply business of Aboitiz Power Corp. 

Therma Power, Inc., a unit of AboitizPower, owns 25% of RP Energy’s coal-fired power plant at the Subic Freeport Zone, while Taiwan Cogeneration International Corp. holds another 25%.

MGen has a 51% stake in another coal-fired power plant being developed in Quezon province with a capacity of 455 MW under San Buenaventura Power Ltd. Co. (SBPL).

SBPL, which is expected to start commercial operation in mid-2019, is a partnership between MGen and New Growth BV, a subsidiary of the Electricity Generating Public Co. Ltd. or EGCO Group of Thailand.

Another project, St. Raphael Power Generation Corp., is a 50-50 partnership between MGen and Consunji-led Semirara Mining and Power Corp. It is also awaiting ERC approval of its 400-MW PSA with Meralco. The planned coal power plant in Calaca, Batangas has two units, each with a capacity of 350 MW. 

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...the future

Meralco mulls over manufacturing EVs

THE Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) is exploring the possibility if it can expand further its newly created subsidiary that will be engaged in owning, maintaining and operating a network of charging stations for electric vehicles (EV).

“Of course, charging station is a basic entry for Meralco,” Meralco Senior Vice President Alfredo S. Panlilio said. “But we are looking at if we can participate more in the entire ecosystem or value chain of EV.”

“We are even thinking of really creating what we call as M-Transport for EV. Even to the point of exploring should we get into manufacturing not as only we can JV [joint venture] with somebody who is into this space. Is it viable for us? Those are the things that we are looking at. From the sourcing of the EVs whether e-trikes, e-jeeps or e-bus, or whether private vehicles, is there a partnership up to the level of operatorship, up to the charging station, up to running the charging stations?” added Panlilio, who is also head of Meralco’s customer retail services and corporate communications.

Meralco said the new subsidiary’s network will also serve batteries and vehicles using electric energy and other alternative energy sources.

The utility firm plans to put up the charging stations within the distribution utility’s franchise area. Panlilio said a prototype charging station has been put up way back in 2011.

“We’re being opportunistic on certain projects,” Panlilio said. He cited Meralco’s current project with the Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University and Shangri-La hotels. “[We’re] looking at Net One to put up a charging station there [Shangri-La],” Panlilio added. “I guess what we are doing is we are not going massively [at] first.”

He explained that Meralco is still “identifying two to three proof of concepts.” One of these is the Mandaluyong local government unit. I think we are talking about 3,000 e-trikes to 4,000 e-trikes, according to Panlilio.

“Right now, maybe e-trikes will be the main focus because it is the easiest to get into,” he added. “It’s more difficult if you go into e-bus and e-jeeps because it’s a total redesign of the vehicles.”

In the future, Meralco may consider taking in partner to manufacture EVs. “We are also learning the industry as we get into it,” Panlilio said. “If we can find a partner potentially for the manufacturing side, then we can take a look at what are the numbers that can make it work.”

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Meralco, Solar Philippines seek ERC go-signal for supply deal

MANILA ELECTRIC Co. (Meralco) and Solar Philippines Tarlac Corp. (SPTC) are seeking provisional authority to implement their power supply agreement (PSA) that will bring down the cost of solar energy to a record low P2.9999 per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

“Considering that SPTC’s solar power plant is expected to achieve commercial operations in the fourth quarter of 2017, an immediate implementation of the PSA would redound to the benefit of the consumers in terms of environmental benefits and would also contribute to the government initiative of encouraging the development of renewable energy in the country,” read the companies’ joint filing to secure provisional authority from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

They also said the P2.9999 per kWh offered by supplier Solar Philippines to Meralco is “significantly lower” than the prevailing feed-in-tariff (FiT) rates and the lowest tariff offer that the power distribution utility had received thus far for a solar technology.

The ERC has set the hearing on the application next month.

Meralco sought the power supply contract based on its power situation outlook for 2017 and succeeding years where it foresees a peaking capacity deficit in its portfolio because of an expected high demand as well as possible occurrences of scheduled maintenance shutdowns and forced outage of power plants.

Meralco’s distribution development plan from 2015 to 2024 forecasts a capacity requirement that will grow by a compounded average of 3.7%.

Meralco executed the PSA with SPTC on Oct. 6, 2017 for the purchase of electricity generated by the latter’s 150-MW solar farm in Concepcion, Tarlac. The contract called for 75 MW and up to 85 MW from the first to fifth year, then 85 MW from the sixth to 20th year.

The two companies forged the agreement after Meralco on June 28, 2017 invited price challengers to an offer made by another entity at a price bested by SPTC’s lower offer. The original power supplier did not exercise its right to match SPTC’s proposed price.

Based on the provisions of the companies’ power supply contract, if the ERC provisionally accepts the filing for the approval of the PSA by Oct. 20, 2017, then beginning Jan. 26, 2018, Meralco will be deemed to have sourced replacement energy from the wholesale electricity spot market at the cost offered by SPTC.

SPTC’s offered price is significantly lower than the price set by the regulator when the Department of Energy opened solar power for subscription initially at P9.68 per kWh, then at P8.69 per kWh when it expanded the target capacity to 500 MW. The FiT scheme, which guarantees payment of the fixed rate for 20 years, was fully subscribed long before the end-2017 deadline.

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....kunin na nila dapat 'to

Solar Philippines says Meralco can save 30% with its P2.99/kWh rate offer

SOLAR PHILIPPINES Power Project Holdings, Inc. said it had offered 24/7 power at P2.99 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) after the distribution utility invited price challengers to an unsolicited proposal from another entity for the supply of 414 megawatts (MW).

“Solar Philippines will utilize solar energy and battery storage to supply consumers reliable, clean energy at a lower cost than gas,” the company said during the weekend.

It said the unsolicited proposal came from Lopez-led First NatGas Power Corp., which will be sourcing power from its San Gabriel gas power plant in Batangas.

In a statement, Solar Philippines President Leandro L. Leviste said its offer to Meralco would allow the distribution utility to “save an average of 30% thanks to advances in solar and battery storage.”

He explained prices at the wholesale electricity spot market are at all-time low, while new power plants from Aboitiz Power Corp. and San Miguel Corp. offer consumers “very low rates.”

“Re-bidding this requirement in line with [the Department of Energy’s] technology-neutral policy will encourage competition and ensure consumers can enjoy significant savings,” Mr. Leviste added.

Solar Philippines made its offer to Meralco after the latter declared a failure of bidding in a competitive selection process (CSP), in which no company qualified to challenge the proposal of First NatGas.

“Meralco may now choose whether to re-bid this under the same terms, or amend the terms to allow other technologies to compete on the basis of cost,” the company said.

Solar Philippines said compared to Meralco’s average generation rate in the past three months of P4.74 per kWh, a rate of P2.99 per kWh would allow consumers to save more than 30% or an estimated P75 billion a year.

The company noted consumers might save even more compared with gas plants, such as First NatGas’s 500 MW, which in the past three months supplied Meralco at an average rate of P5.44 per kWh, including value-added tax.

Solar Philippines said it had installed the country’s first megawatt-scale solar-battery micro-grid in Paluan, Occidental Mindoro, to provide 24/7 reliable power for an entire town at a lower cost than gas.

“The pioneering project features batteries from Tesla, the world’s leading electric vehicle manufacturer, and panels from the Solar Philippines factory,” it said. 

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Meralco considers new offer from Solar Philippines

DISTRIBUTION UTILITY Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) expects its required solar power capacity to grow, as it considers the new offer from Solar Philippines Power Project Holdings, Inc. on top of a separate offer from Lopez-led First NatGas Power Corp., its chairman said.

“We’re trying also to diversify our fuel sources, just in case, because for example if a typhoon hits a particular area wala ka nang (you won’t have) solar power so kailangan you (need to) have other sources. So it’s good for Meralco to diversify,” Meralco Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said. 

He confirmed receiving an offer from Solar Philippines President Leandro L. Leviste for solar power at P2.99 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), a price that is lower than electricity sourced from gas-fired power plants.

Last month, Mr. Leviste disclosed an offer for 24/7 power after Meralco invited price challengers to an unsolicited proposal from First NatGas for the supply of 414 megawatts (MW).

Solar Philippines said it made an the offer after Meralco declared a failure of bidding in a competitive selection process (CSP), in which no company qualified to challenge the proposal of First NatGas.

However, the CSP requirement was for the fuel for the power generation of the price challenger to be the same as the original power supplier, which is natural gas.

“Meralco may now choose whether to re-bid this under the same terms, or amend the terms to allow other technologies to compete on the basis of cost,” Solar Philippines had said.

Mr. Pangilinan described First NatGas’ offer as a “high price,” without disclosing a figure.

“In a way it’s different because natgas is gas, and solar is solar. It can’t be all solar. It can’t be all coal. It can’t be all gas,” he said.

“Part of our mandate is to source the least cost and we take that very seriously. On the other hand, we should also diversify the sources because if we are dependent on just a single source then that’s not good,” he said.

Asked whether Meralco would consider both offer, Mr. Pangilinan said: “Yes, of course.”

He said at present, Meralco sources 35% of the power it distributes to consumers from natural gas-fired plants. Solar power accounts for a small portion, he added.

“It’s (solar) not big but it will be growing. We could see that it will be,” he said. 

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...steady ang presyo nito, matibay

Higher electricity sales drive Meralco’s profit

MANILA ELECTRIC Co. (Meralco) reported a net income of P4.46 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017, up 27% compared with P3.5 billion a year earlier as new consumer accounts and high consumer spending boosted electricity sales, the distribution utility said on Monday.

“[Fourth-quarter 2017] sales volume [at 10,701 gigawatt-hours] is 7% higher than 10,039 GWh in the fourth quarter of 2016 mainly due to new residential accounts and ramp-up of accounts energized in 2016 complemented by high consumer spending,” said Betty C. Siy-Yap, Meralco senior vice-president and chief finance officer, in a press conference.

Adjusted for one-time transactions, core net income rose by 5% to P4.84 billion for the October to December period, from P4.62 billion previously.

“For the commercial sector, the real estate, hotels and restaurants and retail trade drove the volume growth,” Mr. Siy-Yap said. “On the industrial front, semiconductor, basic metals, food and beverage industries continued to provide additional volumes.”

For full-year 2017, Meralco core net income rose 3% to P20.2 billion, before exceptional items. Reported net income was up 6% to P20.38 billion.

Core income excludes the effect of foreign exchange gains or losses, impairment charges, mark-to-market adjustments, gain on disposal of investment and other one-off items.

“2017 turned out to be another good year for Meralco,” said Oscar S. Reyes, Meralco president and chief executive officer, citing an improvement on both the commercial, operating and financial fronts.

Consolidated energy sales volumes went up by 5% to 42,102 GWh despite the cooler temperatures during the first four months of 2017. Meralco breached the 41,000-mark at 41,528 GWh, while unit Clark Electric Distribution Corp. posted 574 GWh.

Mr. Reyes attributed higher energy sales to the “combined effects” of a growing customer base and positive economic conditions, with gross domestic product growth of 6.7%, moderate inflation at 3.2% and the softening of the peso at P49.93 to a dollar. He also cited stable power supply and lower power plant outages.

The Meralco official said billed customers continued to grow at a healthy 5%, with a year-end tally of 6.3 million accounts or a net additional 288,000 customers.

Mr. Reyes said 2017 ended with no significant rate issues, with the average retail price recorded at P8.03 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), the second lowest since 2010, although P0.53 per kWh higher than the 2016 rate.

Gross revenues increased by 10% to P282.6 billion in 2017, as result of higher volume and pass-through generation charges resulting from rising fuel prices and the weakening of the peso.

“Electricity growth continues to be a barometer of the economy’s expansion. In 2017, consumption on the demand side, and services on the supply side, remained to be the mainstay of the economy, contributing to the 6.7% GDP growth,” Meralco Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said in a statement.

Mr. Pangilinan said Meralco is well-positioned to support the government and enable the government’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program aside from the anticipated approval of unsolicited proposals covering rehabilitation, maintenance and operations of the country’s infrastructure facilities.

On Monday, shares in Meralco rose by 0.25% or 80 centavos to close at P320 each.

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Meralco receives offer for 50-MW solar capacity

MANILA ELECTRIC Co. (Meralco) has received an offer for an additional capacity of 50 megawatts (MW) of solar energy and has subjected the same to a competitive selection process (CSP), the outcome of which will be known by end-February, company officials said.

Lawrence S. Fernandez, Meralco vice-president and head of utility economics, said the distribution utility had so far signed with three solar power developers, with all power supply contracts awaiting approval from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

The fourth offer came from Pilipinas Newton Energy Corp. for 50 megawatts at P2.98 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), the lowest solar cost received so far by Meralco, he added.

“The three are still pending with the ERC. One has not yet been filed,” he told reporters, referring to the offer of Pilipinas Newton. “It’s still undergoing CSP (competitive selection process).”

Meralco’s first solar power supply agreement is with Solar Philippines Power Project Holdings, Inc. at P5.39 per kWh. It was followed with a deal with PowerSource First Bulacan Solar, Inc. for P4.69 per kWh, and another contract with Solar Philippines for P2.99 per kWh, Mr. Fernandez said.

ERC rules require power supply contracts to be subjected to price challengers through a CSP, which is aimed at sourcing energy at the lowest cost.

“Malalaman natin (We will know by the) end of this month kung may (if there is a) price challenger,” he said.

Based on data from the Department of Energy, Pilipinas Newton is building a 70-MW solar farm in San Manuel, Pangasinan. The target commissioning and commercial operation dates of the project are yet to be disclosed.

Mr. Fernandez said Meralco is sourcing the new solar capacity based on the power situation in the past five years which bared that demand from 2012 to 2017 in the Luzon grid has grown by around 2,900 MW against a capacity addition of only around 2,600 MW.

“Naa-outpace ng demand ’yung capacity addition (Demand is outpacing the capacity addition). We’re not even considering potential maintenance or replacement of old capacity,” he said.

“The grid itself really needs more and more new capacity not just for this summer but going forward if demand continues to grow,” he added.

Separately, Oscar S. Reyes, Meralco president and chief executive officer, said the company had signed with Lopez-led First NatGas Power Corp. for the entire capacity of latter’s 414-MW San Gabriel gas-fired power plant in Batangas.

The power supply contract is for six years, he said.

“What we need is — [that’s why] we signed with San Gabriel — capacity that we can ramp up and ramp down,” he said.

“So it’s mid-merit,” he said, referring to energy that can quickly switched on when needed. “24/7/365 so the plant must be able to do that.”

Mr. Fernandez said Meralco is open to sourcing energy from all technologies “as long as it’s competitive, it will lead to a more efficient and a more reliable system,” adding the company would know by the end of the month if the San Gabriel offer is topped by a lower price offer.

He said the first CSP for San Gabriel resulted in a failed bidding because no price challenger came forward. ERC rules call for a second round of bidding.

Last year, natural gas accounted for 37.5% of Meralco’s fuel sources, with coal making up the second biggest at 34.1%. The balance is a mix of sources, including hydropower, biomass and geothermal.

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