Published January 3, 2017, 10:00 PM By Myrna M. Velasco
The prepaid retail electricity service (PRES) of Manila Electric Company (Meralco) will have expanded foray into three key cities in Metro Manila by the first quarter of 2017, according to a company executive.
Meralco Vice President Jose Antonio T. Valdez, who is also the head of the utility firm’s Marketing-Customer Solutions and Product Development, has indicated that prepaid metering will have its commercial rollout in the cities of Mandaluyong, Pasig and Makati in next year’s initial months.
“We are expanding to Mandaluyong, Pasig and Makati – all within the first quarter,” he reiterated, emphasizing that their target customers are those in the 101-350 kilowatt hours (kWh) consumption bracket.
He said targeted end-users are not so much on the subsidized segment or the lifeline customers, because the meter is a bit pricier, “so we have to make sense out of it from a business perspective… but if they (lifeline users) seek for connection, then we have to serve.”
Valdez said this will form part of the goal to complete the rollout of additional 100,000 prepaid meters for 2017. It serves as a follow-through to the initial 40,000 prepaid meters installation that they have completed in 2016.
With some logistical issues at hand, the Meralco executive noted that it will be a more gradual pace at the start of the year; and will be ramped up accordingly in the succeeding months.
Valdez relayed that, so far, based on feedback from their prepaid end-users, those that had sought connections of the meters “are very happy… customers are able to save around 20 percent on their bills.”
After completing the rollout of 100,000 prepaid meters, the next phase for the country’s biggest distribution firm will be the market-introduction of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) targeting both prepaid and post-paid subscribers.
Valdez said the deployment goal for AMI will be for 235,000 meters and this will likely start next year.
These are the so-called “intelligent meters” with remote connect-disconnect system and could also aid consumers in prudently managing their consumption based on their budgets.
The company said it will begin the AMI commercial-scale rollout once it secures the approval of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on its self-crafted business rules on said meters.