Metering & Smart Energy International Big-Question
Eskom to trial smart meters in municipalities
South Africa's Eskom has less power to distribute due to ageing infrastructure and faces large arrears debt for bulk purchases - can smart meters help?

In South Africa, parastatal utility Eskom has implemented rolling blackouts across the country, known locally as load shedding, in a bid to match dwindling supply with demand.

Although South Africa's Department of Energy is investing in wind, solar and biomass through the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement programme, the ageing base load power infrastructure is creaking and cracking under the strain of increased demand.

Eskom also faces the problem of municipalities, which distribute electricity on its behalf, not paying for bulk purchases.

In April 2014, Eskom said its arrears debt from municipalities was US$381 million.

Can smart meters help?

Acting CEO Eskom Brian Molefe believes that installing prepaid smart meters in the service areas of municipalities could help the company recover from unpaid bulk bills.

While Johannesburg electricity utility City Power is piloting a load-limiting programme for residents with smart meters in an attempt to ensure households maintain power supply amid rolling national blackouts.

The load-limiting model - the first of its kind in South Africa - uses the demand-response functionality of smart meters to warn residents of imminent controlled outages requesting them to limit their electricity consumption.

The meters are also designed to automatically trip power if consumption exceeds the limit imposed to offset load shedding.

What do you think?

Join the conversation @Metering as we take #TheBigQuestion to African Utility Week 2015.

1 COMMENT

  1. The idea is good provided the system is explained well to the consumers,otherwise confusion will lead to many complaints.It is therefore important that when the smart meter trips the control relay within itself, no external switching off and on of the house input circuit breaker should reconnect power back otherwise people will keep on trying to cheat it.To protect these smart meters,it would be good to have them locked with the slave control panel available to the consumers for recharging the system.