Muscat: Eng. Zahir bin Abdullah Al Abri, General Manager of Mazoon Electricity Company (MEC) said that the company is investing from the beginning of this year and up to the year 2014 RO200 million to strengthen the basic infrastructure and the quality of services to meet all consumers' demands.
He said, in an interview with Oman News Agency (ONA), that MEC serves almost 40 per cent of the Sultanate's population and has invested more than RO50 million in 2011 and RO13 million in the first quarter of 2012 to support and upgrade its network to better serve and reach new customers in its licenced areas, adding that the company's total number of customers reached 270,000 in the beginning of 2012, with an average growth of 7.0 per cent, asserting that the company also reviewed its strategic objectives to enhance the quality of service taking into considerations efficiency and operational performance.
Improving its networks
Eng. Al Abri said that MEC continues its efforts to provide quality services by improving its networks in South Al Batinah, A'Dakhiliyah and South and North A'Sharqiyah Governorates and it has implemented several projects to expand the capacities of its stations. The company currently owns and manages 216 Distribution Centres and around 11,000 substations, including 20 branches in a geographical area that spans approximately 74,630km2, adding that as part of MEC's extensive village electrification project, the company supplied electricity to 23 remote villages that met company criteria, and another 20 villages that did not fulfil the required criteria in 2011.
Currently, works are under way to supply power to an additional 36 villages, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2012.
Regarding the Government's contribution, Eng. Al Abri said that the government's contribution aims to provide additional support to supply the growing demand for electricity across the country. It will focus on extending power to rural areas with challenging geographical terrains that require significant amounts of investments, which can reach in the hundreds of thousands of Omani Riyals and at times even cross the one million Omani Riyal mark.
The second is to fund direct costs associated with the purchase and distribution since these cost are greater than the amount sold. In 2011, 45 per cent of the total cost of purchase and distribution of electricity was funded by the government, adding that the automatic reading system will provide more accurate monitoring of electricity consumption. In fact, Mazoon has already installed a number of these meters in several locations, which are currently being tested.
The Authority for Electricity Regulation (AER) in coordination with external parties assessed these reading systems and has found them to be efficient especially since they are equipped with an internal memory that regularly stores data on electricity usage and consumption.
Concerning customers' complaints about high electricity bills, he said that the increase in electricity bills is a direct result of the change in energy consumption driven by customer behaviour. For example, the use of air conditions surges during the hot summer months and this in-turn causes a rise in electricity bills.
Another attribute is the condition of the electrical appliances being used, that is to say an un-serviced AC consumes more electricity than a serviced AC unit. At Mazoon, we are working to ensure that our customers are well aware of these various factors in efforts to increase cost efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Elaborating about Omanisation in MEC, Eng. Al Abri said that MEC employs a workforce comprised of 497 men and women of which 484 are Omani. Many of the senior positions in the company are held by highly-qualified Omanis and our strategy will continue to focus on developing a team of experienced national personnel.
Responding to a question about MEC's role in the are