Senator Win Gatchalian recommended to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) the inclusion of electrical linemen and meter readers in the priority list of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program, stressing their importance in the country’s energy security and continuous supply of power.
“Just like the other non-medical frontliners, linemen and meter readers who do house-to-house work also put their lives on the line by getting themselves exposed to those who could be possibly infected by the coronavirus. We appeal to the government to consider their prioritization ahead of the mass vaccination,” Gatchalian said.
Their inclusion in the priority list is essential as they attend to the concerns of every household, Gatchalian said, adding that linemen install lines and do maintenance, repair works and other technical problems even under circumstances where strict health protocols are being enforced. The senator added that meter readers will ensure the proper reading of meters for billing statements. Meralco has 756 meter readers and 7,306 line personnel. Meanwhile, there are an estimated 9,680 linemen and 2,420 meter readers from electric cooperatives (ECs) nationwide.
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), following the re-imposition of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in areas declared under the NCR plus bubble, recently appealed to the local government units (LGUs) to allow the conduct of onsite electric meter reading activities while ensuring compliance to the prescribed health protocols. In seeking to allow meter readers to do their job, the ERC said this is aimed at avoiding Meralco from resorting to estimated billings again similar to what happened last year that only caused a spike in electricity bills.
Meralco, for its part, said bill shock is unlikely to happen again as meter-reading activities remain uninterrupted.
“These linemen and meter readers do field work and put themselves in harm’s way because they need to continue to provide for their respective families as well. They too can be considered as essential workers as their line of work ensures the unimpeded delivery of services of power facilities,” Gatchalian said.