By Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News | 01/15/2013 2:58 PM
The country's first ever prepaid electricity system will start commercial operations tomorrow. Around 295 residents of Brgy. Camastilisan, Calaca, Batangas signed up for the new service offered by BATELEC 1.
Technology provider Xen Energy said the prepaid service works by enrolling the resident's meter to the prepaid program where the consumer can purchase prepaid loads of P100, P200 and P300 by sending a text message to 2861 (for Globe users only). After 5 minutes, the prepaid Consumer will then get a text confirming the purchase of electricity load.
From time to time, consumers can check the balance of their load by sending "kwbalance" to 2861. ABS-CBN was able to interview several residents who said they are willing to try the new service in order to save on electricity expense.
Xen Energy Systems business development manager Frank Dianko said consumers will still have an option to revert back to the traditional connection and billing system in the next 6 months. But after that, there is already a lock-in period of 2 years for prepaid electricity consumers. The consumer can shift back to the usual system but will have to pay a charge.
There is no additional charge for the meter but the electricity rate for prepaid is the same as with the postpaid or traditional connection which is at P9/kwh.
Batelec 1 power use section head Ricardo Macalagim said the electric cooperative hopes other local government units (LGUs) in their franchise areas will be serviced by prepaid electricity soon but no definite target yet has been established.
Meanwhile, while the Energy Regulatory Commission has approved the implementation of prepaid electricity in the MERALCO franchise area, the country's largest power utility has yet to commence commercial operations. Meralco had announced last year that it will start pilot testing prepaid electricity among its employees living in the Rizal area but no development has been heard about the plan.