City Power intensifies smart meter roll-out in Joburg

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City Power will replace electricity meters with new smart meters.
City Power will replace electricity meters with new smart meters.

City Power, the City of Johannesburg's (COJ's) electricity utility, is intensifying its smart meter roll-out, targeting more than 20 000 households in the next three months.

The power utility has embarked on a campaign to replace electricity meters with new smart meters, also known as advanced metering infrastructure, in its areas of supply.

It says this means old electricity meters including old prepaid meters will be removed and replaced with new prepaid meters.

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 COJ bills through an automated process.

According to COJ, smart meters will have a positive impact on the city's revenue as there would be reduced billing queries and non-payment because customers would receive accurate and verifiable consumption information.

The smart meter could also be used to send bulk messages asking customers to, for instance, reduce demand or remind them to pay an outstanding bill.

The aim of the prepayment roll-out is to ensure better service for customers as the new prepaid meters have improved communication capacity and features, the power utility says.

The City of Johannesburg estimates that it could save us much as 775MW if all the 335 000 households with smart meters were to apply the system.

The campaign is aimed at all customers, including businesses, but initial preference will be given to those experiencing problems such as the lack of access to their properties to read meters, faulty meters and illegal connections, says City Power.

"With prepaid meters, the power is cheaper because the prepaid system doesn't include additional charges a postpaid meter would impose, such as service and network access charges. For a prepaid meter, you only pay what you consume. Customers can manage their electricity consumption and avoid billing estimations," says City Power in a statement.

In the next three months, the project will be implemented in the following areas: Greenstone with 1 500 households, Fleurof (4 000), Pennyville (4 000), Naturena (4 000), Ennerdale (5 752), Bramley (700) and Westdene (700).

Customers will receive a notice from City Power alerting them of the prepaid meter replacement. The customer must call City Power on the number provided on the notice to arrange for the installation. A City Power official will arrive at the premises to remove the existing meter and replace it with a smart meter. The power utility says a prepaid meter will be preloaded with 10 units. The customer must go and buy units as soon as possible.

City Power says if customers do not respond within seven days of the delivery of the notice from City Power, the utility reserves the right to terminate supply.

City Power has contracted Voltex, Actom and Landis+Gyr for the installation of prepaid meters.

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