South African state-owned power utility Eskom is rolling out new smart meter technology to mitigate the soaring cases of electricity theft – a recorded R20 billion ($1.5 billion) loss per annum.
Engineering News reported that Eskom anti-electricity-theft campaign manager Madeline Kazinga noted that the country was losing around R5.4 billion ($384 million) a year in non-technical revenue, while municipal loss was around R15.2 billion ($1 billion) a year.
She said this while addressing a group of media at Eskom’s Research and Innovation Centre in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
By deploying smart meters the utility can monitor and capture data reflecting consumption of electricity, which will be used to assist in revenue collection as well as pin point where suspect faults are occurring.
Reducing electricity theft high on Eskom priorities
Eskom energy and revenue losses manager Dileep John told media that the key focus areas has been Sandton and Midrand, with a target range of 30,000 households to be installed with smart meters.
[quote]John said that smart prepayment split metering solutions, comprising a meter and a customer interface unit, is also currently being rolled out in Soweto, Engineering news reported.
John said: “The plan is to roll these units out over the next five years to cover Soweto, Midrand and Sandton.” Read more…
Keeping abreast of advancements
Keeping abreast of smart meter technology advances, the Eskom research centre continues to test new equipment against existing technologies.
Engineering News highlighted: “As smart meter technologies continue to evolve, the infrastructure which allows two-way communications between the central system and the meter may be linked to other in-house devices.
“Eskom is also piloting the use of Remote Access Terminals(RATs) in a number of locations countrywide. The RATs enable Eskom technicians to remotely disconnect or reconnect power supply to any specific customer without physically going to the point of supply.”
John explained: “The RATs play an important role in ensuring the safety of our staff when they have to do disconnections in dangerous areas, because such operations can now be conducted from the safety of their office.
“Once completed, the new programme, which uses visualisation technology, will enable technicians to compare electricity use among customers in any suburb or even in a townhouse complex to identify those whose use is unusually high.”
“All these interventions will give Eskom an edge in its continued fight against electricity theft,” he said.
Featured image: 123rf