Meralco sets commercial rollout of prepaid electricity

By Iris C. Gonzales, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 24 2015 07:28 AM | Updated as of Mar 24 2015 03:28 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Power users would soon be able to manage their consumption better with the expected rollout of the prepaid electricity scheme of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the country’s biggest power distributor.

A landmark innovation in the electricity business, Meralco’s prepaid electricity scheme may be ready for commercial rollout as early as this year, if and when the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) gives the green light for the project, a ranking Meralco official said.

“There’s no approval yet but I hope by May or June, there would be an approval already,” said Meralco senior vice president and head of customer retail services and corporate communications Al Panlilio.

The pending application before the ERC is for 40,000 meters, covering parts of Manila.

“We’re pushing to do the 40,000. We want to make sure that we cover Manila well so that we can go and market the prepaid. We want try to cover the entire Manila,” Panlilio said.

He said Meralco is also seeking approval to extend the scheme for another 100,000 meters.

“We want to finish the 40,000 by June or by the end of the year at the latest. I’m pushing my team to finish by mid-year so that once there is approval, we can proceed to the commercial rollout,” he said.

He said government agencies such as the Philippine National Police and the National Housing Authority are also interested in the prepaid scheme.

A prepaid retail electricity scheme would allow power consumers to budget their electricity consumption as well as expenses. It would also enable them to monitor their electricity consumption as it happens.

The prepaid meter systems can tell consumers if their prepaid load is still enough for a given period and thus warn them if they need to reload to avoid disconnection.

A prepaid electricity system exists in countries such as Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand.

Last year, Meralco conducted pilot activities meant to determine the viability of the planned platforms, the prepaid meters and the possible trouble-shooting mechanisms.

Meralco signed in October 2012 a prepaid electricity system deal with GE to facilitate the prepaid platform.

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