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Wednesday Apr 03, 2013

Tshwane switches to prepaid electricity for all properties

The City of Tshwane is doing away with meter readers as it intends to shift all electricity users in the city to pre-paid meters within the next two years.

Not only will consumers have more accurate consumption figures and no more electricity bills, the city will save more than R5 billion in billing, administration and debt collection fees.

Yesterday, the city launched the R7bn Security of Revenue Project which will see the installation of 800 000 pre-paid smart meters in every household, business and public building at no cost to the consumer.

Jason Ngobeni, city manager, said the smart meters would give the power back to the people. "People will be able to control their own electricity consumption," he said.

Consumers can control the amount of money spent on electricity each month because they can choose how many electricity units to upload.

There will be no increase in electricity fees when switching from the current system to the smart metering system.

Service fees for electricity on the current system range between 27 and 30c a rand. On the smart meter system, this fee is expected to decrease to 19.5c a rand.

The City of Tshwane will collect revenue upfront, with the aim of improving the city's liquidity.

Andile Dyakala, chief financial officer of the City of Tshwane, said the city, on average, received bill payments 131 days after issuing them. "We have to pay Eskom 15 days after buying the electricity but we wait much longer to receive the money from the consumers," he said.

Executive mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa said the new metering system would improve the flow of money to the city. "We can bank on money received upfront from consumers and use it to improve social infrastructure," he said.

Ramokgopa said the new system would increase job opportunities in the city. The factory producing the meters will have to be within Tshwane to benefit the city's job seekers, he said.

Electricity tariffs, on the new system, will differ depending on the time of day - during peak periods electricity will cost more than offpeak periods.

"Hopefully this will encourage people to restructure their electricity usage times and reduce the impact on power grids during peak times," said Dyakala.

"This might change people's behaviour if they realise they cannot just consume, consume, consume.

"They will have to manage their consumption," said Ramokgopa.

The smart metering system will be implemented from October 1 and Ramokgopa will be the first to have a meter installed in his home.

"This system will benefit the totality of residents in the city," said Ramokgopa.

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