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House energy panel to focus on bills for energy conservation, efficiency

05:50 PM June 17, 2015

THE House of Representatives energy panel is set to prioritize some 14 bills on energy conservation and efficiency (ECE) when Congress resumes from break in a bid to lay out a program for the wise and proper consumption of electricity.

Speaking to reporters and officials of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) officials at the local power utility’s newest building Power Lab, Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali said the bills seek to raise the public awareness on the need to use energy efficiently.

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“There are a total of 12 or 14 bills on this. I myself filed one bill on energy conservation and efficiency. We have already conducted two hearings on this … It’s all about making a clear program again on energy conservation,” Umali said.

Umali said he authored one of the bills on ECE – House Bill 4393 which seeks to institutionalize sustainable energy efficiency and conservation programs (from the demand side) and promote the use of renewable energy technologies (from the supply side) among households and industries to ease pressure on the power grid.

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“Through this bill, I would like to raise the consciousness of Filipinos on energy efficiency and to institutionalize programs that can help residential, commercial, and industrial consumers better manage their energy consumption,” Umali said

The congressman said Meralco’s Power Lab “gave me an idea on how to move forward in putting together a definitive program on energy conservation and efficiency.”

Housed inside the local power distributor headquarters in Pasig, Power Lab is Meralco’s newest multi-purpose facility that is designed to test the power consumption of various appliances and gadgets to educate consumers on how much these eat up power and how these contribute to the electric bill.

Al Panlilio, Meralco Senior Vice President and Head of Customer Retail Services and Corporate Communications, said Power Lab can provide consumers “information on how they can be more energy efficient.”

“Though it might seem counterintuitive to our business, we believe it’s our duty to give consumers more information to help them decide how they will consume electricity. It’s our duty to make our customers’ lives easier by helping them understand their electricity consumption,” Panlilio said.

In the visit led by the Meralco officials, Rep. Umali and reporters toured the different rooms of the facility, such as the Equipment Testing Laboratory, Demo Area, Intelligent Living Space, and the Renewable Energy Area.

Meralco has said that it would be willing to share the findings of its laboratory on the kilowatt hour consumption of appliances to different distribution utilities.

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Kuryente load

Jose Antonio Valdez, Meralco’s head of the Marketing, Customer Solutions and Product Development, also briefed reporters about its “Kuryente Load,” a prepaid form of paying electric consumption through cellular phones via a load system in tranches of P100, P200, P300, P500, and P1000.

Under the prepaid electricity service, consumers would be able to track their electricity consumption via text messages.

He said some 7,000 consumers in Metro Manila and Rizal have availed themselves of the service, and that in an 18-month period consumers can save as much as 20 percent of their usual consumption.

Valdez likened the program to a “boyfriend” who keeps reminding the consumer of the electricity consumption by text so the consumer would not just be able to pay their consumption by prepaid over the cellular phones, they would also be able to track down the levels of their consumption.

“Bakit sila nakakatipid? Kasi araw-araw, tine-text ako…Imagine, P3,000 ang bill mo. Naisip mo na ba ang nagagastos mo ay P100 per day? So tine-text ako so alam kong more or less P100. Pag naging P120, tatanungin ko ang sarili ko, bakit?” Valdez said.

Valdez said the program seeks to curb the proliferation of the “jumper” system or illegal electricity connection, especially among the informal settler areas by providing them with a mechanism to pay their electricity consumption in retail.

“Ibabalik natin ang dignity nila, taas noo sila na hindi sila nagnanakaw,” Valdez said.

The service allows consumers to be installed with meters in their residences without paying the service fee, Valdez said.

He added that the electricity service will be cut off if the consumer runs out of load, but the electricity connection will be restored upon reloading from the nearest store or at the payment centers which offer Kuryente Load services. AC

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