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Meralco targets to install smart meters for 3.3M customers

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MANILA ELECTRIC Co. (Meralco) plans to install more prepaid electricity meters by the middle of next year to far exceed new installations of postpaid meters as the country’s largest power distribution utility targets 3.3 million of its customers to enjoy the benefits of smart meters, its top official said on Tuesday.

“Meralco has already deployed 102,000 smart meters for its prepaid electricity service and by the first half of 2021 we would have installed a total of 145,000 smart meters, 38,000 more for the PRES or the prepaid electricity service and 5,000 for postpaid,” Meralco President and Chief Executive Officer Ray C. Espinosa told the company’s shareholders during their annual meeting yesterday.

“All of these services provide real-time data for the benefit of the customers,” he said during the event, which was witnessed by stockholders through a live feed from the company’s premises.

Prepaid or smart meters allow electricity consumers to monitor their power consumption as they receive a daily text message of their usage and remaining load value.

Mr. Espinosa said that beyond the mid-2021 target installation, the utility is working with the Energy Regulatory Commission for the approval of 1 million more smart meters. The new meters will be deployed over a period of three years, he said.

“Meralco’s roadmap is actually to have 3.3 million customers on smart meters over the next eight years,” Mr. Espinosa said.

As of last year, Meralco had a total of 6.88 million customers, up 4% from 6.62 million in 2018. Of the customer count, households made up 92%, while commercial and industrial users had a share of 8% and 0.2%, respectively.

Of its 46,871 gigawatt-hour electricity sales last year, 31% were taken up by residential users, while industrial users accounted for 29% and commercial customers by 40%. Of the three, residential customers recorded the biggest growth rate at 8%.

Mr. Espinosa also said during the meeting that Meralco’s energy development unit targets to generate a third of its output from renewable energy.

“We are targeting around 3,000 megawatts (MW) within the next five years, with 1,000 MW allocated entirely to renewable energy projects,” he said.

On Tuesday, shares in Meralco slipped by P2 or 0.72% to close at P274 each.

Meralco’s controlling stakeholder, Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc., is partly owned by PLDT Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.





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