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Friday, April 18, 2014

System upgrades delay installation of prepaid electric meters

Power customers of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. who wish to have prepaid meters installed in their households will have to wait awhile after the agency announced yesterday that installation of these meters will be delayed for some months.

CUC cited the planned upgrades on the system’s model as the reason for the delay in this undertaking.

“The 1,000 new meters that CUC has in stock, along with the 1,500 meters on order, allow customers to purchase additional power online or over the telephone. This avoids the need to visit CUC offices to obtain the ‘tokens’ the currently installed versions of prepaid electric meters require,” the CUC statement said, adding that in order to provide this enhanced functionality, the new prepaid electric meter models communicate by wireless communication.

It was disclosed that the wireless communication facilities on Saipan are in the process of being upgraded.

“The upgrade will, among other things, provide significantly improved connectivity and communications speed for the prepaid electric meters. However, the communications module inside the meters must be upgraded in order for the meters to work on the new system,” said CUC statement.

It said the prepaid electric meter upgrades are expected to be completed by the end of June 2014 and meter installations will begin as soon as possible after the upgrades are completed.

“We’re confident our customers will find that the enhanced capabilities of the new meters will be well worth the wait,” said CUC.

Saipan Tribune learned that CUC received a $1.22 million grant from the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs last year. Called the “Empowering Insular Communities” grant, it consists of two projects: promoting conservation and looking for new energy sources. Both projects are key components of the CNMI’s energy planning. Of the grant amount, Saipan Tribune learned that $622,000 is for the procurement of prepaid electrical meters.

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