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City Power – the City of Johannesburg’s electricity entity – is seeing the benefits of smart metering.

A project spearheaded by City Power in River Park, near Alexandra, is showing a dramatic increase in revenue collection and a decrease in electricity theft following the implementation of smart metering systems in 800 households in the area.

Speaking on the second day of the 64th annual Association of Municipal Electricity Utilities (AMEU) Convention in Midrand on Tuesday October 7, City Power Managing Director for Infrastructure Development Xolani Lembede said the power entity had increased its revenue collection from the River Park area by about R1.6 million a year.

“The Revenue and Network Protection Programme of River Park has seen impressive revenue collection increases. We installed the systems three years ago and have seen an annual increase in revenue collection,” Lembede said.

He said City Power had invested R8 million in the project.

“The input costs are high and a return on such a sizeable investment will take time but we will get there. We have increased revenue and reduced our operational costs as a result of the smart meters’ communication system. We have also noted that, coupled with reduced levels of vandalism and meter bypassing, the area now has improved stability on electricity supply, which in turn improves community safety,” said Lembede.

The River Park township is situated across the Jukskei River from the established suburban area of Lombardy East on the east bank and opposite Alexandra.

Lembede said City Power had noted a reduction in overall usage as residents were now more aware of the amounts they consumed.

In a bid to limit electricity theft and vandalism through the bypassing of smart meters, Lembede said City Power had ensured there was limited access to the meters by installing tamper-proof casings and monitoring systems on all meters.

He said the tamper-proof casings of the smart meters could be accessed in three ways – remotely from City Power, by programming an access key to an employee card or through the usage of a bypass key.

“All access processes, as well as the meters themselves, are closely monitored. In order for us to reap the benefits of our investment, continuous monitoring is key,” he said.

Smart meter technology or Automated Meter Reading (AMR) enables City Power to read meters remotely. It also allows consumers to log on to a website and monitor their consumption.

The AMEU convention provides all stakeholders with a direct interest in the electricity supply in Southern Africa the opportunity to acquire and share knowledge, networks and market new technology.​