July 13, 2016
from Business Mirror
The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) is expanding its prepaid retail-electric service (Pres) in a bid to help marginalized consumers who may lack the means to pay their regular monthly power bills.
Meralco Head of Utility Economics Lawrence Fernandez, in an interview, said the expansion involves opening the service to more areas aside from Manila and Rizal.
“We’re now deploying to the NHA [National Housing Authority] developments in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan,” Fernandez said.
“To help marginalized consumers, we are expanding our prepaid electric service, for which a customer is not required to provide a deposit for electric service, while giving the consumer more control over their electric billing,” he added.
Pres enables customers to monitor their electricity consumption, balance, credit-purchase history and account information. Customers may purchase credit denominations of P100, P200, P300, P500 or P1,000 for every single purchase.
Loading is available at Meralco business centers, Bayad Center outlets, sari-sari and convenience stores, drug stores and department stores.
“At the same time, we have the lifeline discount for marginalized consumers. For the half-a-million households consuming 20 kilowatt-hour or less, they pay only a minimal fee for electric service, plus taxes and universal charges,” Fernandez said.
“We also note that, thereafter, the consumer has the obligation to pay his or her monthly electric bills not later than nine days after receipt of their monthly bill [Article 32 of the Magna Carta] [or] else, their service may be disconnected,” Meralco official added.
Earlier, Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said his office would want to focus on providing electricity to marginalized communities, adding that he has tasked the National Electrification Administration (NEA) and National Power Corp. (NPC) to closely look into this. Both the NEA and NPC, on the other hand, expressed willingness in the endeavor.
Meralco has so far installed some 27,000 prepaid meters out of the 40,000 units that were initially approved for rollout by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
Cusi, in a recent meeting with Meralco officials, also recommended to check on the “relocation sites, because these are potential fire hazards.”
“Let us not wait for the local government units to resolve problems. Let us help, especially the marginalized. I want the general public to feel that the government is doing something to better their lives by providing adequate electricity with lower rates, so they will be able to afford other necessities, such as more food on the table,” Cusi said.