by Lenie Lectura, 23 March 2015
The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) has sought the approval of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to install 100,000 more prepaid electricity meters on top of the 40,000 that and still pending with the agency.
“For this year, we filed for another 100,000 meters. We already applied it for one-year implementation,” Meralco Senior Vice President Alfredo Panlilio said.
Meralco’s prepaid-service offering will enable customers to budget their electricity consumption. The system also informs consumers if they need to reload immediately to avoid disconnection.
Meralco’s prepaid metering will initially be offered to 40,000 households in Manila. Its application with the ERC, however, has yet to be approved. Panlilio said the implementation of the service involving 40,000 meters is already delayed. But Meralco opted to file another application for an additional 100,000 meters.
He said among those interested to try out the service is the National Housing Authority (NHA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP). “The NHA alone wants to have it installed in 30,000 to 40,000 houses,” Panlilio said.
For the ERC’s part, Executive Director Saturnino Juan said hearings on Meralco’s application are ongoing. A decision will be out soon, he added, “assuming [that] the application is approved, Meralco can roll out the service on a commercial basis thereafter.”
The Meralco official said the installation of 40,000 meters, if and when approved by the ERC, will only take a few months. “We want to finish it, if not June, by the end of the year the latest. I’m pushing my team to sell all 40,000 meters so that once the approval is out, we can immediately do the commercial operation,” Panlilio said.
Prepaid electricity is also being used in other countries, such as Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand, Meralco said.
Meralco has allotted a budget of $7 million for the entire system.