June 07, 2012
Converting the Bahamas Electricity Corporation's (BEC) billing system from postpaid to prepaid will not only alleviate its receivables problem, but assist in energy conservation and decrease operational costs, according a former BEC board member.
Dionisio D'Aguilar, president of Superwash, highlighted to Guardian Business the urgency for BEC to implement a prepaid system like its telecommunications counterpart, the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC). "If you look at BTC, the most successful part of its business is prepaid phones. It allows people to manage their expenditures on that particular router. When you're out, you're out," D'Aguilar said, who is also the chairman of AML Foods.
"When you use it, you are very cognizant of how it is being used. Don't call me, text me. Call you and then you call me back. If you're calling from a landline, they don't take the calls." He noted that BTC's prepaid consumers are in control, and tend to be better at conserving their minutes. A prepaid system, D'Aguilar believes, is an initiative that needs to be transferred over to the electricity business. "I am absolutely convinced that if you convert a postpaid electricity billing system into a prepaid one, that will contribute to energy efficiency and conservation, more so than any reduction in duty rate on any given item," D'Aguilar said.
According to him, if BEC implements a prepaid billing system it will remove the need for people to read meters, receive bills, the need for a consumer to pay a security deposit and it will also eliminate the need for disconnections and reconnections. "We really have to analyze how people consume electricity. As consumers, we are not disciplined or knowledgeable enough to know how to change the way we consume electricity, so every month, people are shocked and horrified by their bill," he revealed. "BEC needs to become more creative in addressing this problem. It needs to get out of the post-paid system."
Superwash's chief pointed out to Guardian Business that on average he spends anywhere from $50,000 to $60,000 monthly on the laundromat's electricity bills. Last month, BEC's former chairman Michael Moss told Guardian Business that prepaid electricity could be an option for the corporation in the near future, and it would operate similarly to BTC's prepaid cell phone system. "Prepaid electricity is like any other prepaid service, whether it's your cell phone or any other service. You can pay in advance and regulate your usage because you know how much you have invested. There are different types of prepaid electricity services," he explained.
"There are some where it is almost like a cell phone, where you download so much into your meter, and once your meter reaches that level, it shuts off until you buy some more." He noted there is also a sophisticated network that has the capacity for the metering system to be treated as a prepaid or post-paid system.
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