Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has recommended to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases 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 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,” he said.
“We appeal to the government to consider their prioritization ahead of the mass vaccination.”
According to Gatchalian, their inclusion in the priority list is essential as they attend to the concerns of every household.
He says linemen install lines and do maintenance, repair work and other technical problems even under circumstances where strict health protocols are being enforced.
The senator also says 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 nationwide.
The Energy Regulatory Commission, following the re-imposition of the enhanced community quarantine in the areas declared under the NCR plus bubble, recently appealed to the local government units 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 says 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, says bill shock is unlikely to happen again as meter-reading activities remain uninterrupted.