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Rural power agency starts use of pre-paid meters

By Vision Reporter

Added 8th August 2007 03:00 AM

KANUNGU and Kibaale districts have become the first in the country to use pre-paid meters.

KANUNGU and Kibaale districts have become the first in the country to use pre-paid meters.

By Ronald Kalyango

KANUNGU and Kibaale districts have become the first in the country to use pre-paid meters.

This follows the completion of the construction works of the two power lines under the rural electrification project implemented by the Rural Electrification Agency in the energy ministry.

The power lines are managed by Ferdsult Engineering Services.

The meters use smart cards to hold information on units consumed or equivalent money value.

When the card is inserted, the meter reads it, connects the supply to the consumer loads, and debits the value.

The meters are equipped with light emitting diodes to inform consumers when 75% of the credit energy has been consumed.

The consumer then recharges the card from a sales terminal or distribution point.

During this process, any changes in the tariff can also be loaded in the smart card.

Godfrey Turyahikayo, the head of the Rural Electrification Agency, said the pre-paid meters will cut the cost of meter reading “as no meter readers are required.

“In addition, they eliminate administrative hassles associated with disconnection and reconnection. Besides, going by South Africa’s experience, pre-paid meters can help control appropriation of electricity in a better way than conventional meters.”

Turyahikayo said since the payment is up-front, it reduces the financial risk by improving the cash flows and necessitates an improved revenue management system.

“The system eliminates billing delay, removes cost involved in disconnection/reconnection, enables controlled use of energy, and helps customers to save money through better energy management,” said Turyahikayo.

Barbra Musoke, the agency’s outreach and public relations manager, said metering errors, tampering with meters leading to low registration and calibration related frauds were some of the key components of non-technical losses.

Ferdinand Mugisha, the Ferdsult’s head, said: “We are on trial process. We think when the campaign succeeds, they (lines) will gradually replace the conventional electro-mechanical meters. We think they will improve accuracy in meter reading.”

He said 500 pre-paid meters had been imported from China. Over 40 countries, he said have pre-paid meters in their markets.

“Pre-paid meters with their advantages over conventional ones are likely to help us power distribution. We shall offer value-added services to consumers,” he said.

Rural power agency starts use of pre-paid meters

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