Eng. Abdullah bin Said al-Badri, CEO of Muscat Electricity Distribution Company (MEDC) said that the company has ambitious projects during the plan for (2012 - 2014) in relation to accommodating the increasing demand for energy in the Governorate of Muscat through the establishment of a number of new stations and main stations associated with Oman Electricity Transmission Company (OETC) in several locations of the governorate.
Eng. Al-Badri added, in a statement to Oman News Agency (ONA), that the company is seeking through the plan to invest (RO.166) million to cover high voltage networks (33 and 11 kv) and low voltage networks to meet needs of the residential layouts for energy, as well as enhancing the existing distribution networks and expanding them to include residential layouts that witness construction activities in the wilayats of A'Seeb, Al A'merat and Bausher.
As for customer complaints of meter reading and late arriving bills, Eng. Al-Badri said that MEDC pays a special attention to this issue through the preparation of a strategy to deal with it, including medium-and long-term solutions, adding that MEDC worked closely with providers of meter-reading, billing and collection services to improve performance. He pointed out that MEDC has recently started self-reading service and developed solutions that help the costumer to be part of the solution through involving them in reading the meters by filling the special form, by email, sending SMS via the company's web portal or through the call centre or via applications in smart phones.
He explained that MEDC has initiated alternative solutions so that it has become the first company for electricity distribution in the Sultanate to launch prepaid counters after thoroughly testing the feasibility of this type of counters, especially in the field of commercial and residential real estate.
He announced that many participants in the Governorate of Muscat expressed their support to one of the most campaigns in this year and MEDC announced a programme to self-reading programme, which lays the foundation for a new stage in which costumers are able to read their counters and pay to their convenience.
Eng. Al-Badri spoke about MEDC's investments in the upcoming stage, saying that the bulk of investments flowing into raising the reliability of the electricity distribution system in the Governorate of Muscat and which, in part, is connected with the expansion of the network to meet demands of the new costumers and the larger part is connected with supporting the existing network both by adding new main stations or linkages between networks to providing alternative feeding sources in case of interruptions.
He further said that MEDC has also invested in the technical side, represented in contracts with a group of local and international companies for the installation of control system for power distribution system in the governorate, which would enable the company to manage the distribution system effectively and efficiently and return service in case of interrupted quickly, noting that the project worth (RO. 8) million and would be ready by the end of the first quarter of 2014 with all hardware inside the stations.
Eng. Al-Badri added that the number of subscribers at MEDC stood at (238,000) as at the end of last year, with an annual increase of (8%).
In relation to GCC linkage project, he said that the project will help increasing reliability of electricity system in GCC countries, including the Sultanate, but we rely primarily on internal capacity-building, so that networks are always ready, adding that we would benefit from the GCC linkage in the event of link maintenance and interruptions.
About the Government subsidy for electricity tariff, Eng. Al-Badri affirmed that current tariffs do not cover the real cost of electricity, including production and distribution, indicating that the total support provided to subscribers of the company stood at (RO. 53) million as at the end of 2012.
As for Omanization at MEDC, he said that the company is one of the companies that manage their activities, whether with regard to the administration of the system or customer relations with staff who are mostly Omanis as the Omanization rate at MEDC is (93%) and there is a tendency to gradually increase the percentage in compliance with replacing expats with Omanis in some specialties that are run by expats.
He added that MEDC, according to the plan, is investing annually (RO. 400,000) for the rehabilitation and development of human resources of the company, both through internal and external scholarship or through the training programmes related to costumers' services.
In response to questions about the company's role in relation to risks of electricity, Eng. Al-Badri explained that part of MEDC's responsibility towards society and in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, it is implementing an awareness programme for school students focusing on issues of rationality in electricity consumption and risks prevention.
He added that MEDC and as part of its initiative to disseminate awareness in health, safety and environment, conducts regular programmes for contractors and individuals to raise awareness on the importance of compliance with safety measures in the workplace.
With regard to the corporate social responsibility (CSR) of MEDC, he affirmed that the company is aware of the value of its responsibility towards the society, saying that there is a strong relationship with all segments of society of various government institutions and Walis' offices, in addition to MEDC annual participations in supporting the Omani Woman Day, Muscat Festival and other events held in the Governorate of Muscat.