The City of Cape Town is launching a new phased upgrade programme that will see about 100 000 prepaid electricity meters replaced over the next five years at a cost of R165 million.
Although the City has been replacing credit meters with new prepaid meters since 2014/2015, this project will replace meters that are reaching the end of their lifespans.
The upgrade programme will be area-based, with every suburb scheduled to benefit. The programme is scheduled to roll out across the city, with Durmont, Uitzicht and Durbanville Meadows set to receive new meters before the end of March.
Approximately 37 500 of the new prepaid meters have already been rolled out in areas such as Wetton, Sun Valley, Muizenberg, Montana, Edgemead and Parow (among others). Residents in these areas who did not have their meters replaced will have a final once-off opportunity for their free replacement.
“Eventually every customer in the city will be supplied via a prepaid meter, which will protect the service against bad debts,” said Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services.
Once in an area, a contractor appointed by the City will do a mail-drop at each targeted customer’s address requesting that they make contact to set up an appointment at a time that is convenient to them. Once the appointment has been made, a reference number will be generated.
If residents have not received a mail-drop or are in any doubt as to whether this is a legitimate City project, they can contact the City’s call centre (0860 103 089).
Once the meter is installed, residents will benefit in several ways:
* No more meter-reading estimates.
* No more bill surprises.
* Better oversight on consumption with an in-home display, making budgeting easier.
* Reduced risk of meter failure and supply loss.
* No more electricity cuts due to unpaid bills.
* Ideal for communal renting or leasing, with no more bill disputes with tenants.
The new prepaid meter is located outside on the street, with an in-house display provided inside the customer’s property. Locating the meter outside the premises allows the City to more easily access the meter and also to check whether there has been any tampering.
“Residents supplied via prepaid meters use an average of 10 to 15 percent less electricity due to the increased oversight provided by prepaid meters,” said Ms Limberg.
Residents with prepaid meters are reminded that once they purchase more than a certain number of units in a calendar month (350 units for lifeline customers and 600 units for domestic customers), the price of units goes up until the first of the next month when the tariff resets and residents can buy at the cheaper rate again.
For this reason, residents should aim to buy only the number of units they need for the month.
The replacement of credit meters with prepaid meters is free when the upgrade programme is in the scheduled area and residents can pre-register on the City’s website for when the programme reaches their area. Residents who don’t want to wait for the programme to reach their area can upgrade immediately, however the cost of the new meter and installation (R3 100) will be recovered via the prepaid meter (available from July 1).