Although a large expensive smart meter contract awarded by Johannesburg electricity distribution parastatal City Power remains contentious even after an investigation commissioned by the group cleared it of wrongdoing, City Power will continue installing smart meters across Johannesburg. Global experience (such as that by Germany which concluded it could not justify the cost of a mass rollout) is increasingly pointing towards a targeted approach when it comes to the rolling out of smart metering technology as opposed to mass rollouts.
Over the course of 2013 City Power installed small numbers of smart meters, 153 in Ferndale, next to Randburg, and 2,500 at large power users in Johannesburg, as part of a project business trial, according to City Power general manager Sol Masolo.
This trial is to be followed by the installation of 50,000 smart meters by June 2014 as part of the first phase of the roll-out, which would be completed by October 2015.
The smart meters can operate in either post- or pre-paid mode. They enabled the remote reading of exact electricity consumption in real time, and send an alarm when power is lost or interrupted. City Power has done a pre-installation audit in 50 suburbs, and community communication in these will begin soon. These suburbs include Ferndale, Franklin Roosevelt Park, Langlaagte, Berario, Linden, Glenvista, Crown Gardens, Fairland, Sandringham, Brixton and Parkhurst.
The smart meter roll out is part of a R6.7 billion investment by City Power that also includes a bid to improve network stability and electrify areas that remain unconnected.