Municipality makes a ‘smart’ move

Electricity, the one word that makes your stomach turn when you open your utility bill.
Yet, it is the one commodity that we just can’t live without.

Electricity has been the topic of many conversations these past few months especially with Eskom demanding payments on long overdue accounts from the municipality.

Vodacom Business, the enterprise division of Vodacom Group, put a proposal on the table on Friday, March 19 during a special council meeting and they say they can help the local municipality reduce electricity losses.
Municipal Manager, Mr Theo van Vuuren, said the cost benefit of this exercise is very positive and the municipality can save up to R30-million a month.

Vodacom Business was appointed by the Department of National Treasury to address issues in the utility space amongst others.

Armed with years and years of knowledge and state of the art technology they proposed installing 40 000 smart meters.

Globally, utilities have used smart metering to successfully understand electricity usage and supply management.
Smart meters facilitate the communication between the utility and the end-user. Through real-time monitoring, utilities are able to measure site-specific information that provides insight into when and how much energy is being used. This allows for more accurate energy usage forecasts and also provides information to encourage end-users to consume energy outside of peak demand times.

Mr Christo Nicholls from Vodacom asked two questions in the beginning of his presentation

“Are we paying what is due and are we collecting what are due?”

He suggested that the municipality takes an in depth look at their bylaws, polish them up and implement it.
Nicholls said Johannesburg bylaws clearly state that the owner of a property stays liable for municipal accounts. So it is up to the owner to ensure that the municipal accounts are always paid up.

Cllr Naritha Naidu, Democratic Alliance Caucus Leader agreed on the bylaws issues and said the council must first clean their own house, before they try to implement bylaws.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) also showed a positive reaction towards the smart meters. Cllr Sam Zandamela from the EFF wanted more clarity on the cost implications of the smart meters.

“Households will pay R210 per months and after 36 months the meters will be their property. Business will pay R295 per month for the device. After 36 months the device will be their own,” Nicholls said.

The cost is the service and installation fee. Customer will then pay for use of the normal electricity tariffs.
Mr Deon Liebenberg, Managing Executive for the Internet of Things at Vodacom said,

“Vodacom’s Internet of Things division is making a positive socio-economic impact in South Africa and we have successfully deployed smart metering as a service to other municipalities to improve efficiency and reduce wastage. We are confident that the offering presented to Emalahleni Municipality will make a difference to the local community.”

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  AUTHOR
Zita Goldswain
Assistant Editor

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