State utility Kenya Power late last week announced its plan to deploy smart electricity meters in a bid to reduce meter-reading costs and non-technical losses and improve billing accuracy.
Managing director Dr Ben Chumo said Kenya Power is rolling out smart meters as part of a pilot phase covering Runda, Kariobangi and Nairobis Central Business District, before other areas of the country, according to a local media report.
Customers who use more than 1,000 units a month will receive a smart meter in an attempt to reduce customer complaints about estimated meter reading, said Chumo.
Chumo said Kenya Powers customer debt is more than US$42 million, which the utility attributes to a low rate of actual meter readings due to inaccessible meter boxes and a steady increase in the number of new electricity connections.
He said: Low meter-reading coverage averaging 66% has over the years led to the accrued debt.
The utility, which has 700 meter readers to cover an estimated 3.2 million customer base, said it will also offer temporary employment to about 500 college students from the Institute of Energy Studies and Research (formerly Kenya Power Training School) to bolster meter reading capacity.
Prepaid electricity meters
Meanwhile in the Caribbean, Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) is launching a prepaid meter scheme for 2,000 customers in the local areas of Kingston & St Andrew and St Catherine this month.
Customers can buy credit at 35 Bill Express locations, including local JPS offices, with online top-up coming in May this year.
JPS is installing prepaid meters that alert customers when there is 5kWh left in credit, or a days worth of electricity.
The installation follows a small technical prepaid meter pilot in 2014, which achieved postive results.
The utility reported that participants in the pilot achieved average year-on-year savings of 35% on their kWh consumption.
Customers attributed these savings to the fact that they became more conscious of exactly how much electricity they used on a daily basis and were able to take corrective measures, reported local media.
Prepaid meter systems are active in several Caribbean territories, including Dominica, Antigua, Guyana, and Curacao.
As at November 2014, 40% of Dominica Electricity Services customers were using the prepaid system.
AMR water rollout
The City of Cortez, a small town in the state of Colorado, has signed off US$1.2 million to fund the replacement of more than 3,000 manually read water meters with automated units.
The aim of the AMR deployment is to reduce time spent by employees reading 3,400 meters by using radios to read meters through a drive-by or fixed-base receiver to read and store data, said Phil Johnson, director of Public Works.
Mr Johnson said: It takes two people full-time, an entire month to read all meters in the city (with automatic meters) we get data in real time, and they provide us with a means to alert customers if theres a leak, backflow, high-flow, low-flow.
Right now, we get static information.
After the bid period in mid-May, work is expected to begin early summer. The entire system is expected to be on automatic meters by October, reports local media.
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