Smart meters blamed for billing ‘chaos’
Johannesburg – The Democratic Alliance on Saturday called for electricity smart meter installations to be stopped because of “electricity bill chaos”, and raised the possibility of legal action in this regard.
“The installation of smart meters, which is causing havoc with electricity bills all across Johannesburg, must be stopped until a reputable authority can verify the devices and the process,” DA City of Johannesburg caucus leader Vasco Da Gama said in a statement.
Engineers had advised the DA that a class action should be instituted against the city in view of the smart meter woes.
“These smart meters should have approval from the SABS [SA Bureau of Standards] and Nersa [National Energy Regulator of SA],” said Da Gama.
The badly installed, faulty smart meters emanated from the R1.25 billion contract awarded to a consortium led by Edison Power “controlled by Durban businessman Vivian Reddy, a friend and benefactor of President Jacob Zuma”.
“The meters are not properly calibrated, resulting in erratic readings. In addition, smart meter readings rely on cellphone signals, which is problematic because in some parts of the city signals from the different networks are not always strong enough, resulting in makeshift solutions.”
Da Gama said residents should not be burdened with the city’s incompetence. Because of problems in getting accurate readings, the city was issuing estimates which bore no relation to actual usage.
Many residents had received bills for hundreds of thousands of rand for electricity which they could not possibly have used. The city was aware of the problems, but there was no clear policy or plan on how to deal with the escalating crisis.
“Where residents have made enough fuss, such as in Mayibuye in Ivory Park, newly installed smart meters have been removed after community uproar. City Power bridged the system for residents to receive electricity, which is unmetered and free of charge until other arrangements are made.”
Da Gama said he was seeking further expert advice on the issue of law suits and class actions.
African News Agency