Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the country’s biggest power distributor, plans to spend some $7 million for the full rollout of its prepaid electricity metering system to 40,000 residential customers, an official said.
Alfredo S. Panlilio, senior vice president and head of customer retail services, said the $7 million includes the prepaid system and the analytic system integration. The system can service up to 100,000 households, he said.
Meralco has started the first phase of pilot tests that will run until midyear to ensure systems are working well.
“We gather all the experiences, what the customers want. We still have to apply to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for the business rules. Once approved, we’ll officially launch the service,” he said.
Initial tests covered 100 households in Rizal, to look into the viability of a prepaid retail electricity scheme in the residential sector.
The so-called “technical pilot” phase will eventually cover up to 200 households.
“For the commercial pilot, we’re looking at around 2,000,” he said.
These pilot tests are meant to demonstrate the viability of the prepaid platform, the prepaid meters and the various vending solutions that may be implemented.
Once proven feasible, Meralco will apply the prepaid electricity payment scheme on a wider scale, covering 40,000 of its over 5 million customers.
The prepaid retail electricity service, or PRES, is one of the innovations introduced by the ERC to give consumers more control over their power spending. Under the prepaid meter scheme, subscribers can monitor their electricity consumption in real time and their meter systems can alert them if and when the load is nearing zero to avoid automatic disconnection.