Meralco sets initial top-up rate for prepaid electricity’s rollout

by Myrna Velasco, February 19, 2015
from Manila Bulletin

The 301-plus kilowatt hours of consumption level has been the proposed reference for the top-up rate on prepaid electricity being offered by Manila Electric Company (Meralco) to its customers.

In its filing with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), Meralco has stipulated that the preliminary top-up rate is “based on the average rate of a customer consuming 301 kWh in a given billing month.”

The rate benchmark comprises significant base of Meralco’s captive customers or the residential end-users. The prescribed tariff is reckoned from the prevailing postpaid rate as billed to the specified consumption bracket.

“For the first 12 months of PRES commercial rollout, the equivalent kWh for a prepaid load for a residential customer will initially be computed based on the average rate for a 301 kwh for a current billing month,” it was reiterated.

Beyond that, it was noted that Meralco “shall propose alternative pricing schemes, for approval of the Commission, depending on the results of the PRES commercial rollout for the first year.”

“The initial average rate for a 301 kWh consumption for a current billing month shall be valid until such time that a new pricing scheme is approved by the Commission,” the regulatory pleading has stressed.

The utility firm further apprised the ERC that it has been batting for a commercial rollout of its prepaid electricity by March this year – the same time that supply in Luzon grid will also be teetering at critical levels.

The offer of prepaid retail electric service (PRES) will aid consumers in managing their electricity usage – hence, it will also be mitigating pressure off the power grid’s available supply.

In view of Meralco’s bid for an immediate commercial scale rollout of its prepaid electric service, the ERC has scheduled this March 4 the jurisdictional hearing, pre-trial conference and presentation of evidence on its application for provisional authority.

The utility firm has signified that based on the outcome of its prepaid electricity commercial pilot tests, “customer feedback has been generally positive regarding their PRES experience.”

The ERC filing thus indicated that “there has been a growing clamor from its customers to avail of PRES so that they can enjoy its recognized benefits.”

These include gaining the “ability to manage consumption and appliance use, alignment of prepaid payments with paydays, return of their service deposit and relaxation of some application requirements compared to the current postpaid service.”

Meralco has noted that if a provisional ERC approval is granted, it can “immediately serve the interest of the consumers, and thus attain the objectives of PRES, particularly giving customers a choice for energy management strategies.”

For postpaid customers opting to switch to the prepaid scheme, it was laid down that they would have their postpaid contract terminated, and “if the customer elects to revert to postpaid service after the trial period, a new postpaid contract shall be executed.”