Millions of electricity metering systems converted to curb theft

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Eskom and municipalities have converted half of over 11 million electricity metering systems to curb theft. According to the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) so far municipalities have managed to recode half of their costumers’ meters.

There are 11.6 million prepaid electricity meters in South Africa that need to be updated or recoded. These meters are the responsibility of Eskom and the municipalities across the country. And many of these could stop functioning from 24 November 2024 if they do not get updated in time.

The process commenced in August 2023.

Eskom says its project has been progressing well. It says it has recoded 52% of the prepaid meters as of 15 May 2024.

On the other hand, the SALGA says municipalities have to date reset 2.6 million prepaid meters.

“We have currently as municipalities of 4.7 million metres that are on prepaid and we have reset according to our calculations, we have reset around 2.6 million and we’re left with around 2.1 million meters to be converted and we know out of 2.1 million meters there are meters that are faulty meters that will need replacement. We are in a process of quantifying that exact number for the meters that will need replacement and this replacement comes with the meters that would have already been converted to key revision number 2,” says Sila Mulaudzi, Sustainable Energy Specialist at SALGA.

Eskom says the process of buying electricity remains unchanged. However, customers are reminded to enter all previously purchased credit tokens. It says this is important because old credit tokens will not work after the meter is recoded.

The Johannesburg’s City Power has reiterated that come the deadline, credit tokens will start duplicating.

“The way prepaid meters are working, they are working through a standard called standard transaction system, which is called an STS and that STS allows the vending system to produce 20-digit numbers. Now these are random numbers that are able to tell the meter if you have bought for 500 or you bought 400. Now what has been happening is that these numbers, random as they are, we are at risk that beyond November 2024 they those numbers will start duplicating, so it means, once you punch in that number on your meter, your meter will see it as if it’s a number that it has used before,” says Thamsanqa Mathiso, Meter Reading Manager: City Power.

Eskom urges customers to exercise caution during this period of recoding of meters. The power utility says this process is done at no cost to the customers.

Video: SA Energy Crisis – Eskom’s progress on curbing electricity theft