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Prepaid power meters soon in Oman.

MUSCAT: After mobile phones, calling cards and bank cards, it's now the turn of another utility, electricity supply, going prepaid.

Muscat Electricity Distribution Company (MEDC) has already installed 100 prepaid digital electricity meters in places like Amerat, Seeb and Bausher in a bid to rationalise electricity consumption.

As customer complaints of "exaggerated" electricity meter readings surgeA and the burden of paying of accumulative bills looms large,A the MEDCA has come up with a pilot study to install digital pre-paid meters in the Sultanate.

Hamad Said Al Abri, a senior official of MEDC, said, "As of now, we have installed 100 prepaid meters and more will be installed in the coming months. We have targeted 500 homes to be installed with prepaid meters on a pilot basis."

Customers using prepaidA meters would need to buy electricity using a creditA from a vending machine available only in main office and MEDC offices inA Seeb and Bausher as of now.

Hamad added: "A customer, after buying the credit,A will feed the secret codeA in his meter and the meter will be charged.

"The meter is connected to the remote unit, which a customer can operate from his living room... simply put, a customerA can communicate with his meter using the remote."

According to Hamad, prepaid meter can get rid of bad debts associated with the post paid accounts and is ideally suited for landlords to avoid the risk of having to pay electricity utility bills when tenants don't pay, or when one is faced with constant disputes on electricity bills.

The idea of switching to the prepaid mode lock, stock and barrel, will be studied after the pilot project ofA installing 500 prepaid meters is completed.A

Traditional electricity meters show the units consumed but those buying prepaid vouchers would get to see their balance as and when required.

When prepaid electricity connections become the norm, customers would be more carefulA not to waste electricity. "An evaluation period will be put in place for the first 500 prepaid meters installed.

This is so that MEDC can access the feedback, demand and desirability of them. Since the number is low now, weA are able to manageA but if we need to install prepaid meters in thousands, we need more planning and infrastructure and more points where the customers can buy the credits."

If the balance in the meter becomes very low, the Freedom Keypad Unit will sound a 'low credit' alarm. A customer can press any key on the keypad acknowledge and disable this alarm.

If a customer does not key a button to switch off the low credit alarm, the supply will go off after the balance in the meter is exhausted. For convenience, the alarm will not sound at night between 9 pm and 7 am and also during weekends and holidays.

Muscat Press and Publishing House SAOC 2012

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Date:Jan 4, 2012
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