Energy body revises rules on prepaid metering

By Neil Jerome C. Morales, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 05 2013 08:29 AM | Updated as of Jan 07 2013 12:02 AM

MANILA - The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has revised the rules on prepaid metering, outlining new guidelines that will protect consumers.

In a public notice, the power sector regulator said it approved amendments in the “Rules for Prepaid Retail Electric Service (PRES) Using a Prepaid Metering System” following public deliberation.

Specifically, ERC required distribution utilities to set up an alarm of a warning device three days before a customer’s remaining credit is exhausted. The computation is based on the customer’s average monthly consumption.

The regulators also approved the “obligatory use of ERC-type approved meters in the PRES revenue metering.”

All available types of technologies can be used in the implementation of the PRES, ERC said, adding that acceptable prepaid metering systems should be classified.

Every meter-type product must be covered by an individual application and approval from the ERC.

Based on ERC guidelines, a prepaid electric meter should be able to load the purchased energy, display real time information on load consumption and give a warning signal that the load is nearing zero.

The prepaid meter should contain the current balance, time and date, previous 30-day consumption and number of days into the current 30-day period and consumption in kilowatt-hour.

Furthermore, the ERC adopted said “the remaining credits from previous month’s consumption shall be adjusted based on the applicable postpaid retail rate in the succeeding month.”

The ERC also expanded the coverage of the PRES to all customer classifications covering both households and business establishments.

Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) will conduct a pilot test in Angono, Rizal province for its prepaid electricity metering service.

The purchase of Meralco prepaid electricity will be the same experience as buying cellphone credits.

In October, the country’s largest power distributor signed a prepaid electricity system deal with General Electric to facilitate the program.

Prepaid electricity has been in operation in countries like South Africa and Indonesia, and more recently in India, Australia and New Zealand.

In South Africa and Indonesia, prepaid electricity is availed of by consumers using tokens and a meter with numbered keys where a code is punched in.