City Power launches rollout of 5,000 smart meters in Alex

City Power launches rollout of 5,000 smart meters in Alex

The City of Johannesburg’s power utility installed the first of 5,000 smart meters at the homes of two councillors in Alexandra, north of Joburg, on Thursday.

City Power smart meter
Masechaba Sefularo/Jacaranda FM News

City Power CEO Tshifularo Mashava commended local councillors Tefo Raphadi and Adolph Marema for leading by example as the city works to regularise consumption and ramp up revenue collection.

“Service delivery is championed by the council of the City of Johannesburg, so when you have councillors who say ‘I want to be the first one. Come to my house and get this done so I can lead by example’, it gives us hope that the collaboration between the political and administrative arms is working in unison to make sure that we have a financially viable entity,” she said.

The metro-wide project, which was launched in August this year, entails the replacement of non-SMART (legacy technology) meters with advanced technology equivalents, which are then reset to comply with the new token identifier. which becomes obsolete at the end of 2024.

Mashava urged residents to open their doors to the utility’s trained agents, who were expected to audit up to 4,000 households daily.

City Power previously said residents and businesses owe it an estimated R4 billion.

Environment and Infrastructure Services Department MMC Jack Sekwaila said the collection of revenue would go a long way in ensuring the municipality had the funds it desperately needed to improve service delivery.

“We spoke about a R4 billion budget that we need monthly. That money isn’t sitting in a particular bank account. It must be generated, and it's still within the residents…

“We also want to deal with the culture of non-payment. The collection rate is low in the city. These 5,000 meters can give us, give or take, R1 million a month.”

READ: City Power on drive to ‘normalise’ meters in Alexandra

In June, Finance MMC Dada Morero allocated Joburg’s power utility a R23.7 billion operational budget and a three-year capital budget of R4.3 billion.

A 14.97% electricity tariff hike also kicked in in July.

City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena said the rollout campaign in the township was expected to last two months.

He said of the more than 4,000 current meters, only 2% were regularised

The meters allow for remote management of consumption as the country grapples to lower demand on the grid amid higher stages of load shedding.

Eastbank resident Gilbert Kwamape, who is also a pensioner, said he welcomed the initiative.

“Everyone should pay. I can complain about load shedding because I am paying for electricity.”

A local businessman on 16th Avenue, Nathaniel Ratsaka, said the interrupted supply of power due to load shedding, illegal connections, and vandalism had adversely affected his business.

“My customers always complained that their drinks were too warm, and the grocery stock would rot, and we’d have to throw everything away. I am happy because maybe this means all that will end.”

The locally produced meters use a SIM card that transmits readings to the central hub, which informs the billing process.

In an earlier statement, Mangena said: “The implementation of these innovative meters empowers us and our patrons to curtail electricity consumption through remote load-limiting functionalities, thereby contributing to the reduction of load-shedding instances.”

The Alexandra smart meter installation drive came as officials clamped down on hijacked buildings in the city centre as part of the metro’s revenue protection program.


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