SOUTH AFRICA – Billions collected from 13 000 ‘faulty’ smart meters

Billions collected from 13 000 ‘faulty’ smart meters

The Tshwane metro said the prepaid electricity smart meters were not faulty and have resulted in billions being collected upfront. 14 hours ago

The Tshwane metro has collected nearly R8 billion from the prepaid electricity smart meters which some residents have said have done more harm than good. Photo: Stock image

The Tshwane metro has collected nearly R8 billion from the prepaid electricity smart meters which some residents have said have done more harm than good. Photo: Stock image

Contrary to causing harm to residents and businesses, the Tshwane metro prepaid electricity smart meters are a good investment and have reaped many benefits, the metro says.

Earlier last week, Rekord reported that some residents were frustrated at the incessant power cuts which occurred as a result of a failing early warning system or late allocation of funds to paid customers.

Metro spokesperson Selby Bokaba said it was only a handful of disgruntled customers who complained.

“A majority of the customers have embraced the new system and provide positive feedback to the metro and its service provider.

“Most of them say they find it reliable, user-friendly, informative and the system has assisted us in eradicating many account queries, estimations and billing issues,” said Bokaba.

This had resulted in the metro collecting R8 billion via the system as an upfront cash benefit.

Bokaba said nearly 13 000 smart meters had been rolled out to a mix of large power users consisting of industrial, commercial and residential customers.

“We paused further roll-out of the smart meters after a court case was brought to challenge the procurement process.

“However, none of the challenges were proven in court and the case was thrown out,” he said.

This prompted the Tshwane metro to arrange a mutually acceptable termination of the current agreement with service provider, Total Utilities Management Services (TUMS).

“However, we remain committed to an ongoing rollout of the prepaid smart meters across the metro because we have seen the benefits.

“Hence we will soon be reissuing a tender for similar services.

“This tender will be issued on the open market and anyone can apply,” said Bokaba.

The metro rubbished claims that the smart meters were defective, with no warning system of depleted funds and resulted in long waits for restoration of power once funds were allocated.

Bokaba said all customers were provided with two warning notifications via email or SMS.

“This means that the customer has total control of their account at all times.

“There is even a portal which any customer has access to through the internet.

“There, they can set and adjust their own threshold values as well as opt in or out of SMS threshold messages.

“They can also maintain and edit their contact details when necessary,” said Bokaba. “All customers had ample time to respond to early warning messages urging them to top up in advance before balances reached zero.

“We would expect customers to react to these warnings and take necessary action to avoid disconnection of service.”

Bokaba further urged all customers to use the correct reference numbers when topping up an account.

“The system will automatically allocate their payment and automatically reconnect the customer within a few minutes of payment being cleared at the bank.

“For large power users, there are potential health and safety issues associated with automatic reconnection so a controlled manual process has to be done and it takes longer,” he said.

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