MANILA Electric Co. (Meralco), the country’s biggest power distributor, is bullish about meeting its target to install 140,000 “smart” meters for its prepaid electricity service (PRES), more popularly known as Kuryente Load, until 2016.
Meralco first vice president and Regulatory Management head Ivanna G. Dela Peña said the company will go full blast this year with the installation of Kuryente Load meters after the utility was granted approval by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for an initial 40,000 meters.
“We have been given approval for 40,000 meters already for prepaid service so we are going full blast now that the ERC has approved PRES rules on this project,” said Dela Peña.
She said Meralco targets to utilize the 40,000 smart meters by the end of this year and that the company plans to expand the service by another 100,000 meters next year.
Dela Peña expressed confidence that they will achieve the target of 100,000 units next year after Meralco entered into an agreement with the National Housing Authority (NHA) under which new housing projects of the NHA will utilize the prepaid system.
“We have signed a memorandum of agreement with NHA that in the new projects that they will undertake, they will put prepaid systems in place for the occupants of the NHA projects,” she said.
For its Kuryente Load service, Meralco targets customers who consume between 70 and 350 kilowatthours (kWh) a month or an average bill of P2,000 and those in lessor-lessee relationships.
The prepaid electricity service works just like a prepaid mobile phone service in which a customer buys electronic load in outlets such as sari-sari stores that sell prepaid mobile load, and one’s account is topped up.
If one is disconnected due to zero load, power is restored within 15 minutes from the top-up. Electricity load can be bought in denominations of 100, 200, 300, 500, and 1,000 pesos.
There is no initial service deposit and there is no load expiry.
Meralco would send a free SMS at 8 a.m. every day to inform prepaid users of their balance and consumption so that they can better manage their usage.