After numerous complaints about prepaid electricity meters in Alberton, the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality (EMM) has given the following explanation as to why residents need to make the switch, reports the Alberton Record.
Each electricity connection in the EMM is equipped with an electricity meter.
This meter can be one of two types only, these being:
1. A conventional (or credit) meter: This dated device simply measures the kilowatt-hour units consumed by the property and is read monthly. These units are then used to create a monthly bill; or
2. A prepayment meter: This modern device is loaded upfront with kilowatt-hour units, which are counted down on the meter. There are no meter readings involved, and no bill is received in relation to electricity consumption.
According to Themba Gadebe, spokesperson for the EMM, conventional meters are getting old and need to be replaced with modern technology, this being prepayment metering.
“The City targeted a project in several areas, during which each property will receive the new prepayment meter free of charge. The same holds true for efforts to replace individual faulty meters as they are reported by our meter readers,” he explained.
“The tariffs applied are exactly the same, regardless of the type of meter. However, customers on Tariff B, suitable for consumption levels higher than 700 units per month, will save on the monthly fixed charge of R32.93 plus VAT by being on prepayment metering.
“Surprisingly, almost all customers on prepayment metering report that they now save on electricity costs, as opposed to when they were metered conventionally. The reason is fairly simple to explain. The prepayment meter has a keypad situated in your house – much like an alarm keypad – and shows units being consumed. This awareness results in customers switching off unnecessary appliances and lighting, thereby saving on electricity costs,” Gadebe said.
The City has almost 300 000 customers making use of prepayment electricity. Units can be purchased using several technologies, at thousands of outlets, and therefore residents can select the one best suited to their lifestyle. Residents can choose to buy online (using a smartphone or computer), at the local supermarket (while buying groceries), using scratchcards (you buy a card valued at a certain amount and send an SMS with the hidden number on the card when you need to activate the card), and more.
“We find that less than one percent of all customers actually buy prepayment electricity in an EMM rates hall,” Gadebe said.
“The vending infrastructure is very sophisticated and very modern. In the highly unlikely event that a component fails, there are backup systems that will be activated at very short notice. Our uptime for the vending system is in the region of 99.999 per cent per annum. We are urging residents to make it as easy as possible for our contractors to install the meter. It should take no more than about 30 minutes, after which you will be changed to the new prepayment metering.
“Sadly, we are unable to accommodate customers who feel that they must remain on the old credit/conventional meter system. New conventional meter stock has not been sourced since the beginning of 2012, hence there simply is no conventional meter to replace your old or faulty meter with,” he said.
Gadebe further explained that it is very risky for a property to have a broken electricity meter, or no meter at all. “When a new meter is installed, back-billing will take place to recover lost units (as per the provisions of the by-laws). Please help us not to end up with a situation like that.
“We do acknowledge that our communications efforts can be improved and we commit to work on this aspect immediately. The energy department finds that weekends provide the best opportunity to execute this project, hence the reason for the work scheduled for a Saturday.
“It is also important to note that the contractors do not receive overtime, they work only at one rate.
“The City continually strives to improve the level of service that we provide. We trust that the electricity service that we provide meets with your expectations and that we deliver on our promise of service excellence,” he said.
– Caxton News Service