Medellín, Colombia — (METERING.COM) — June 13, 2008 – Public utility Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) has rolled out prepayment to more than 13,000 families in 16 city communities and another four municipalities in the Valle de Aburrá so far, the utility has reported.
At the end of April 13,324 families had prepayment, which is just over 40 percent of the total program rollout to an intended 31,177 families. Until just a few months ago over 90 percent of these households were disconnected.
April 2008 also marked the first month in the past three years in which there was a decline in the number of customers disconnected from supply.
The prepayment project was launched in August 2007 in the areas of Popular, Santa Cruz, Villa Hermosa, San Javier and Manrique. Demand for the prepayment system has far exceeded the initial expectations.
Subsequently it has been expanded to the municipalities of Envigado, Barbosa, Bello and Copacabana, and shortly it will be introduced in Itagüí and Girardot. While full rollout was planned over five years, due to its success EPM is now considering accelerating the project over three years.
Installation of the prepaid meter is free on a loan basis, and the rates charged are equal to those charged to post-paid customers. Prepay customers are also able to pay off past debts using up to 10 percent of new payments, these debts financed by EPM at zero interest for an indefinite term.
EPM says that the program has created 44 indirect jobs under the name of business leaders, 11 of them from the communities in which the prepayment has been installed. In addition more than 270 community leaders have participated in socialization programs on prepayment and more than 3,400 families have participated in workshops on the efficient use of energy in the home.
Payment points have been established in shops in areas close to the users of prepayment and a total of more than 600 payment points are in place throughout the metropolitan area of Medellin. Of these 343 are in other areas of the city, in locations such as granaries, drugstores, butcheries and chain stores, among others.
“Prepayment is a definitive solution to the problem of disconnection and is an excellent option to achieve equity in the supply of electricity,” says Federico Restrepo Posada, general manager of EPM. “This is one of the main programs regarding the corporate responsibility of our company.”