Electricity utility City Power has initiated a wide-scale project to introduce smart meters across Johannesburg.
In a statement, the utility says the project − at no cost to residents − is a strategic move to enhance efficiency and confront the energy challenges in the city.
The meters work off cellphone networks and each has a SIM card, which transmits daily readings to a central hub. The consumption readings are then incorporated into City of Johannesburg bills through an automated process.
City Power's campaign includes the auditing, replacement and resetting of prepaid meters. The initiative, launched on Tuesday, coincides with the token identifier (TID) rollover project, says the utility.
Spokesperson Isaac Mangena says the critical nature of replacing and resetting prepaid meters prior to the TID rollover is underscored by the necessity of ensuring TID compliance for all smart prepaid meters.
According to City Power, as a considerable proportion of the existing meters lack smart technology, the process entails replacing non-smart (legacy technology) meters with advanced technology equivalents and subsequently resetting them to TID compliance standards.
It notes that a pivotal milestone in this trajectory will be witnessed on 24 November 2024, when prepaid meters operating on the obsolete technology will cease to provide electricity, necessitating the reset to avert exhaustion of available numbers in the credit token.
“Subscribers who have already purchased electricity units before the meter transition will experience a seamless transfer of units to the new meter,” Mangena explains.
He says City Power’s switch to smart meters is positioned to alleviate the persistent energy crisis. By mitigating the impact of load-shedding, the smart meters will bring respite to Johannesburg's populace, commercial establishments and the nation at large.
“The implementation of these innovative meters empowers us and our patrons to curtail electricity consumption through remote load-limiting functionalities, thereby contributing to the reduction of load-shedding instances.”
The utility points out that the dexterity of City Power’s smart meters empowers timely load-limiting in response to Eskom’s megawatt requirements and critical consumption levels.
Notably, it adds, this transformative programme has promising prospects for previously unmetered customers in less affluent regions, ensuring their access to smart meters.
Mangena emphasises the pivotal integration will empower City Power to efficiently oversee and manage load distribution amid the challenging backdrop of load-shedding.
Facilitating bi-directional communication, the smart meters enable remote interactions with customers, underscoring their integral role in efficient power management, says the utility.
The deployment of City Power's authorised agents, identifiable by their yellow TID-branded bibs or T-shirts, is a cornerstone of this undertaking, it adds.
These representatives will carry valid ID cards with personal information and expiration dates, signifying their authenticity.
With a corps of 200 authorised agents deployed in a systematic house-to-house approach, the initiative aims to audit up to 4 000 households daily, it adds.
Mangena says collaborative engagement with ward councillors has bolstered this initiative, instilling confidence in the community. He appealed for residents to grant officials access during the meter auditing process.
The initiative also addresses security concerns arising from counterfeit meter reading credentials used by criminals to exploit unsuspecting residents, City Power says.
Mangena urges customers to verify the credentials of TID agents by contacting the number indicated on their branded bibs or valid ID cards.
“Customers are strongly cautioned against making payments for TID meter resetting during this operation,” he concludes.