Meralco fast-tracks electrification of ‘marginalized areas’

by Myrna Velasco – July 14, 2016

from Manila Bulletin

Power utility giant Manila Electric Company (Meralco) has been fast-tracking the electrification of marginalized areas in Manila and Bulacan, primarily on the request of the Department of Energy (DOE).

The utility firm said it has been working on 542 electricity service connections since July 8 this year, immediately after their meeting with Energy Secretary Alfredo Cusi.

The areas covered of this initiative are Gaya-Gaya, Isla Puting Bato, Happyland Aroma and Baseco in Manila.

As of July 10, Meralco reported that it already energized 249 service areas; and 278 more are due for completion this week – summing up the whole work timeframe to just two weeks.

According to Meralco President Oscar S. Reyes, they have deployed ‘regular meters’ for these newly connected customers.

He stressed that the request of the DOE is “to basically energize the areas where people don’t have their own connections, and therefore, rely on illegal connections that charge higher rates to them.”

Meralco noted that the initial 249 connections in Manila and Bulacan areas alone necessitated the installation of more than 88 poles and 19 transformers.

The company said their teams continuously worked on the scheduled connections “despite the inclement weather conditions last week.”

Connections to such areas, it was noted, have array of challenges – including opposition to the elevated metering centers (EMCs) of Meralco by some barangay officials whose constituents benefit from illegal electric service.

On the part of the customer, there is that financial difficulty “to cover the cost of load-side facilities,” including house wiring and common metering walls.

There is also that concern in load centers wherein “there had been no proper zoning in depressed areas” – hence, the inaccessible areas and lack of roads and often tampering by hostile residents.”