ERC consults on prepaid electricity service in the Philippines

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Zenaida G. Cruz-Ducut,
ERC chairperson
 
Manila, Philippines — (METERING.COM) — November 24, 2008 – The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has launched a consultation on revised draft rules for a prepaid retail electric service in the Philippines.

“The prepaid retail electricity service (PRES) is one of the innovations being introduced so that consumers can have more power to control their electricity bills,” says ERC chairperson Zenaida G. Cruz-Ducut. “Consumers have benefitted from prepaid services. The telecommunications industry has revolutionized this form of service some years back when it offered prepaid cell phone cards, which come now in intangible cost-effective electronic forms. The ERC foresees an eventual acceptance by certain electricity consumers of the PRES.”

The revised draft rules are based on comments that were gathered from an initial draft that was discussed during public consultations held in Cebu City and Manila in late August and early September.

The ERC formulated the draft rules on PRES to establish the technical standards for the use of a prepaid metering system. Distribution utilities that are granted authority by the ERC to implement PRES are required to use prepaid meters certified by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to ensure meter accuracy and integrity.

Other objectives are to provide residential customers a choice for energy management strategies, to enhance the operational efficiency of the distribution utility, and to promote demand side management.

The revised draft rules propose that the distribution utilities will shoulder the cost of prepaid meters, thus sparing the electricity consumers from paying a meter deposit.

It is proposed that customers should have the option to apply for the prepaid retail electric service on a voluntary basis. Customers who have expressed their inability to pay existing bills under a postpaid service should be allowed to apply for the prepaid metering system, while customers who have been found guilty of illegal use of electricity may be required to join the scheme.

It is also proposed that a residential customer who applies for the prepaid system on a voluntary basis should have the option to revert to the traditional postpaid electric service provided he/she has been connected to the system for at least six months.

Comments on the new draft rules must be submitted by November 28.

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