DOE Sec. Cusi questions Meralco, offers tips to consumers

ENERGY Secretary Alfonso Cusi released a video message asking the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) to explain why it is charging its customers P47 for supposed ‘convenience fee’ on customers using their app system in paying bills.

In the same video, Sec. Cusi also said Meralco should explain the ‘bill shock’ it had caused consumers and which caused the DOE’s welfare and promotion office to be swamped with calls and complaints.

“Ikinagulat din po natin ‘yan. Nagulat kami dahil ang average bill na gagamitin for May the past three months ay mas mataas kesa sa pinakamataas na bills nung nakaraang 3 buwan,” Sec. Cusi notes.

On the convenience fee, Sec Cusi said: “Bakit nagkaroon ng convenience fee pag magbabayad ang consumers na gagamitin ang kanilang app system? Parang di po naging convenience ito, parang naging pabigat pa sa bulsa ng consumers, kaya tinitignan at gusto nating malaman bakit me additional charges pag gagamitin app system nila.”

“Alam nating ang COVID ay nagdudulot ng problema sa lahat kaya pakiusap, ‘wag na tayo magdagdag ng problema na magdudulot pa ng pabigat sa mamamayan at consumers,” he added.

In line with the complaints about spiralling power charges, Sec. Cusi also came out with tips for consumers to save on electricity, warning them about the harm that ‘phantom load’ and ‘standby power’ can do to one’s pocket.

Sec. Cusi explains that ‘phantom load’ or ‘standby power’ is the electric power used by equipment when it is turned off. Any electrical device or technology that has a clock, a remote control, a visible light when not in use, or is programmable, is drawing a phantom load , or using a small amount of power in order to be ready to come back on quickly.

Although the amounts of power for each device may be small, Sec. Cusi says the energy consumption from all the electrical devices that have a phantom load adds up to a lot of wasted electricity.

‘Standby power’ meanwhile refers to the electrical energy that is used by an electronic device even when they appear to be turned off.

It allows electronics to turn on quickly, which means that they are constantly drawing some power from the electrical grid even if the appliances, equipment or devices are not in use, as long as the electrical cord is connected to the outlet which draw current from the electrical supply system.

According to him, there are two  types of standby power.  One is called ‘on-call power’ which allows devices to provide an energy service immediately.   The other type of standby power is known as ‘vampire power’ or ‘phantom power’, or ‘phantom load.’

‘On-call power’ comes from devices with constant digital or LED displays that require power; devices that can be controlled with a remote  or devices that are often left on low-power standby, like printers.

Sec. Cusi says ‘standby power’ is vital for devices like thermostats and telephones with answering machines, as they require constant power in order to function. It also reduces warm-up time for electronic devices that can go into a 'sleep' or 'hibernate' mode.

For remote controls, it helps maintain internal and external digital clocks.  The major disadvantage to standby power is the constant use of electricity.

The most common ‘phantom energy’ appliances are the following: set-top box; router and modem; television; blu-ray/DVD player; computer; cordless phone; video game console; sound system; printer; microwave; phone charger; coffee maker; clock; electric toothbrush and night light, among others.

Sec. Cusi said there are ways to stop ‘phantom power’ brought about by appliances.  First and foremost, make sure to unplug. Obviously, the most straightforward way to stop a device from using energy is by unplugging it from the wall.

‘In a perfect world, you would plug in your devices only when they’re about to be used, and then unplug them once you’re done. However, with so many of our activities now being done with electronics, this can be difficult to do a hundred percent of the time,’ Cusi notes and aptly so.

Next, he said, is the use of ‘power strip’. Most power bars have an ‘on and off’ switch, making it easy to cut the power to several devices at once. This is a great solution for areas where lots of devices that you use at once are plugged into, such as an entertainment center. So, there!

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