Eskom begins Gauteng smart meter rollout

Siseko Njobeni

Johannesburg – Thousands of Gauteng residents are set to receive smart prepaid electricity meters as part of Eskom’s plan to improve cash flow and address the power utility's debt collection challenges.
And as it rolls out prepaid meters in Sandton, Midrand and Soweto, Eskom still wants to recoup the billions of rands owed to it, especially by its Soweto customers.

Eskom said it will be installing an estimated 32 000 smart prepaid meters in the Sandton and Midrand areas by the end of March 2017.

More than 30 000 split meters have already been installed in Soweto.
Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said on Saturday the rollout programme in Soweto would continue until the utility has covered all of its 150 000 customers in the township.

Phasiwe said the move would enable Eskom to contain bad debt, which has been consistently ballooning over the years. In the past financial year, Eskom’s debt was R5bn.

He said Eskom would, however, not cancel the debt. Instead it enters into a structured arrangement with the users to pay their debt over time. Soweto has, for years, been a bad debt hotspot for Eskom. In 2003, Eskom wrote off R1.6bn of debt in townships around Johannesburg. Phasiwe said there would be no repeat of that.

The installation of prepaid meters forms part of Eskom’s strategy to migrate its customers from conventional or post-paid metering to prepaid metering. The changeover will happen at no extra cost to the customers, Eskom said.

Phasiwe said benefits of prepaid metering include enabling customers to monitor their consumption by checking the easy to read monitor and adjusting their consumption accordingly. He said this would help Eskom’s energy efficiency drive.

The migration would also eliminate meter reading estimations.