06 Oct 2017
- By Junhan B. Todiño – [email protected] – Variety News Staff
THREE customers of Commonwealth Utilities Corp. availed themselves of the new prepaid meter scheme after it was launched in the CUC conference room on Thursday.
CUC Executive Director Gary Camacho said it will only take a day to install and start the operation of the new meter program.
He said it was conceptualized four years ago but it needed to be compatible with the system provided by IT&E, CUC’s communication provider.
According to Camacho, the program allows CUC customers to benefit from a specialized meter that permits them to go online and access a customer web-portal and purchase or pay for energy before they use it. The program requires the installation of a Nighthawk electric meter at the customer’s location.
This month, Camacho said CUC installing 400 prepaid meters for government account. The installation should be completed by November, he added.
Camacho said the Nighthawk electric meter is a smart meter that records power consumption and can be read or can send commands through cellular radio access.
At present, Camacho said only residential and government customers are eligible for the web-based electric prepay program.
Eligible residential customers include the elderly, persons with disability or who are sick, those who don’t have transportation, multi-family homes, families with teenagers, and those with secured fencing and gates, he said.
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony at CUC, Camacho discussed the advantages and benefits of a web-based prepay meter: there are no disconnection or reconnection fees when the customer’s fund runs out, no more electric bills, delinquent or disconnection notices for electric, or unexpected charges.
The new program is easy and convenient and allows a customer to purchase energy 24 hours a day online, he said.
The customer can save gas by not having to drive to a customer center to make a payment, he added.
He said it also allows customers to manage their consumption and stay within their budget every month, adding that customers can monitor their usage and charges daily.
“No bill due dates to worry about, and no meter reading every month,” he added.
CUC billing and financial account manager Betty Terlaje said with the web-based prepay program, there will be no receivables and fewer delinquent customers because it requires upfront cash payments.
The program will also reduce congestion at payment lines and reduce operational costs, she added.
It will reduce estimated billings for customers with inaccessible meters, and there will be less billing disputes to address, and less irate customers, she said. Customers will receive alerts for possible meter tampering, Terlaje said.
CUC has 2,500 Nighthawk meters, 200 of which will be sent to Rota and another 200 to Tinian, she added.
On Saipan, aside from government accounts, they have started processing 35 residential accounts, she said. About 200 residential accounts are on the waiting list.
Terlaje said CUC customers who want to apply for the web-based electric prepay program must submit an application for service at any of CUC’s customer service centers on Saipan, Rota or Tinian.
Camacho said the required fee and security deposit payment for an existing customer is $95. For new installations, the single phase meter fee amounts to $135.
Camacho said a refundable electric security deposit of $185 is also required to cover the cost of any damage to the meter.
“You must purchase or prepay for energy by putting funds in your PayGo account,” he added. “A representative can assist you with an initial payment or you may do it on your own through the online web portal after your account has been set up.”
Customers with no wifi or internet service access may visit CUC and ask for assistance from customer service.
Camacho said the electric rates and charges for energy consumption on a prepay meter and a post-pay meter are the same for each customer class.
Charges drawn down from the PayGo funds of the customers are also computed the same way the electric charges are computed for post-pay consumption, he added.
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/99114-cuc-launches-web-based-electric-prepay-meter