Meralco awaits ERC approval for 100,000 new electric meters

by Lenie Lectura – January 2, 2016

from Business Mirror

THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is set to conduct further hearings this month on an application filed by the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).

“We have set a clarificatory hearing on January 19. We are determined to finish the hearings as soon as possible, because we know how vital this is to Meralco. We are reminded of these things every time,” said ERC Chairman Jose Vicente Salazar, when asked of the status of Meralco’s application for the rollout of an additional 100,000 prepaid electricity meters.

Meralco has so far installed between 18,000 and 19,000 prepaid meters out of the 40,000 units approved for rollout by the ERC. The remaining 20,000 meters would be installed and activated within the first quarter of 2016, said Meralco Senior Vice President Alfredo Panlilio early this month.

“We hope to finish the entire 40,000 by the first quarter of next year. We are close to 20,000 now. Around 18,000 to 19,000 meters have already been activated. We’ve slowed down a bit, because we wanted to make sure that the coverage was in place,” he said.

Pilot tests for Meralco’s prepaid retail electricity service (PRES) were conducted starting February 2014. PRES is now available in Manila and parts of Angono, Taytay and Cainta in Rizal province. Manila is fully covered.

A check with the ERC showed that Meralco’s application is still being deliberated. Vanessa Reynoso, an ERC lawyer, said the commission awaits the submission of concerned parties before Meralco’s application is deemed submitted for resolution.

“Once all required submissions are in, the commission can already start deliberating on the matter,” she said.

Meralco continues to persuade property developers to utilize prepaid electricity meters in their housing projects.

“We are talking to a lot of developers like SMDC [SM Development Corp.] and Megaworld. There are still others. They are exploring it,” Panlilio said.

The Meralco official said timing is crucial, since there is no approval yet from the ERC for the utility firm to install additional prepaid electricity meters. “We are not pressing too hard at the moment, because we don’t have enough meters to install. At the same time, these developers can’t wait for us. They have project timelines to follow also,” Panlilio said.

Property developer 8990 Holdings Inc. earlier tapped Meralco’s PRES for its project sites.

Both firms entered into a memorandum of agreement for the implementation of PRES to 8990 Holdings’s property developments, starting with Bella Vista, which is under its Deca Homes brand.