Engineer Abdullah bin Said Al Badri, chief executive officer of Muscat Electricity Distribution Company (MEDC), said the company hopes to complete ambitious projects during the 2012–2014 plan as it seeks to meet the increasing demand for energy in the Governorate of Muscat through building a number of new stations and main stations with Oman Electricity Transmission Company (OETC) in several locations.
Eng. Al Badri added, in a statement to Oman News Agency (ONA), that the company is seeking to invest OMR166 million to build high voltage networks (33 and 11 kv) and low voltage networks to meet the needs of residential customers for energy, as well as enhance the existing distribution networks and expand them to include residential areas being built in the wilayats of Seeb, Al Amerat and Bausher.
As for customer complaints about meter readings and late arriving bills, Eng. Al Badri said that MEDC pays special attention to these concerns through the preparation of a strategy to deal with them, including medium-and long-term solutions, adding that MEDC worked closely with providers of meter-readings, billing and collection services to improve their performance.
He pointed out that MEDC recently began offering a self-reading service and developed solutions to involve customers in reading meters by filling out special forms, as well as by using email, sending SMS via the company's web portal, using the call centre or via applications in smart phones.
He explained that MEDC has initiated alternative solutions to become the first electricity distribution company in the Sultanate to introduce prepaid services, after thoroughly testing prepaid meters, especially for use in commercial and residential real estate.
Eng. Al Badri spoke of MEDC's investments in the upcoming stage, saying that the bulk of investments being used to increase the reliability of the electricity distribution system in the Governorate of Muscat is connected with the expansion of the network to meet demands of new customers, while the larger investment will support the existing network, both by adding new main stations, or linkages between networks, to provide alternative feeding sources in case of interruptions.
He further said that MEDC has invested in technical improvements, through contracts with local and international companies for the installation of a control system for power distribution in the governorate, which would enable the company to manage electricity distribution effectively and quickly return service in case of interruptions, noting that the project, worth OMR8 million, would be ready by the end of the first quarter of 2014, with all hardware installed inside power stations.
Eng. Al Badri noted that the number of subscribers at MEDC stood at 238,000, as of the end of 2012, with an annual increase in subscribers of eight per cent.
In relation to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) linkage project, he said that the project will help increase the reliability of the electricity system in GCC countries, including the Sultanate, but will primarily rely on internal capacity-building so that networks are always ready, adding that Omani customers would benefit from the GCC linkage during maintenance of links and interruptions.
As for Omanisation, he said the current rate at MEDC is 93 per cent, and there is a tendency to gradually increase the percentage by replacing expatriates.