Prepayment Metering Question You Should Ask
In order to make an accurate determination of how much electricity is consumed by each customer or end user in a sub-metering environment; individual sub-metering is of critical importance. Sub-metering is the most appropriate way to measure the amount of electricity consumed by a consumer behind a bulk supply. Because sub-meters will meter consumers after the municipal bulk supply it is very important that metering equipment is accredited and approved by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and is installed and programmed in accordance with the set standards in order to comply with the municipal by-laws. As a bulk supply owner and service provider what types of metering equipment do you use to measure consumption of your sub-metered consumers? How are your meters set up to calculate your DSM (demand site management) and any other municipal charges? How are your tariffs set up? These are all important questions that any bulk owner and service provider should ask continually to make sure that they comply with the law and municipal by-laws. This article discusses such questions in the prepayment environment.
What is an STS meter and what are its uses?
STS meters are some of the most common prepayment meters both in municipal and sub-metering applications. For the last two decades STS meters have been the only option when it came to prepayment metering and they are still installed worldwide. Most STS meters are recognized by the STS logo on the meter as well as the familiar token transfer technology. Any meter where you need to enter a 20 digit token is a STS meter, making the recognition thereof very easy. STS is a widely adopted prepayment standard internationally and founded in South Africa by the STS association (www.sts.org.za). By purchasing equipment that has STS certification, one can be assured of a long standing standard of compliance in prepayment metering technology.
How visible and accessible are your meter(s)?
Accessibility to the end users for the purposes of recharging a prepaid meter is a very important factor. The user must be able to see their consumption as well as the total kwh remaining at all times. This will avoid any inconvenience if the meter runs out of electricity because the user can’t see the reading on the display.
What happens if there is something wrong with the meter?
As common with all electronic devices things can go wrong. At times there can be issues of usability and the end user may need support, while in other cases there may be technical faults that need to be fixed. A user that doesn’t know how to do something on the meter can be very frustrating, while a meter that doesn’t work has the potential to create loses for the bulk owner if the problem is not dealt with quickly. For this reason it is very important that the bulk owner or service provider has user backup support for the metering equipment 7 days a week, as well as some sort of maintenance plan to ensure continuity of utilities supply.
Are your tariffs correct?
To ensure accuracy of prepayment collection funds the meters have to be set up correctly and in alignment with municipal bulk supply charges. This mean that the prepayment system must enable the all possible tariffs such as: IBT (inclining block tariff), seasonal tariffs, ToU (time of use tariffs), and any other municipal tariffs that maybe be adopted at any point in time. However, this in itself is not sufficient for accurate collection. The system must also be able to apportion and charge correctly any other municipal utility charges such as DSM (demand site management) and similar levies that a municipality may charge.
What happens if your municipality all of the sudden changes the bill and charges differently than your initial prepayment setup? You need to check how fast your service provider may be able to handle that, including how retroactive corrections will be applied where necessary.
Can the prepayment system provide transparency and 24/7 access?
Last but not least as a bulk owner or even manager it is very important that one has access to data at all times. Such data may include purchasing history, reporting, tamper notifications and such reports. Without such reports one cannot import the data into the property accountancy system to reconcile utilities and get a correct view of the financials of a property.
Furthermore, the access is also highly important for end users. End users may themselves need such data for their own tracking of consumption and transparency while in commercial environments for purposes of accountancy.
At PrepaidMeters.co.za we embrace technologies and develop utility management solutions to give our customers peace of mind while keeping in line with best practices in utility management and giving their end-users the support they need all year around.
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