By Hennie Moodie, Team Lead New Business at Remote Metering Solutions
South Africans looking for a more user-friendly and transparent way of managing their energy consumption are embracing smart meter technology. These are deployed with a prepaid or smart wallet system to help people stay in control of their electricity expenditure. Consumption data is available on usage per time interval, so consumers can be more pro-active in identifying power-heavy appliances at home. But with millions of electricity consumers still needing to convert, there is massive untapped potential for smart meters in the country.
Beyond the advantages for consumers, smart meters can have far-reaching benefits for landlords, managing agents, municipalities, and the environment.
It can help electricity service providers optimise their revenues by greatly assisting in remote metering and billing. Smart meters also make the likes of implementing peak and off-peak tariffs far easier to apply while delivering demand-side management through demand response. This is crucial given how electricity service providers are looking at load generation balancing due to continued concerns around systems management and maintenance.
Using smart meters mean that queries relating to electricity billing will be eliminated and real-time outage detection will enable electricity service providers to respond faster to faults in the field. Smart meters also have anti-tampering technology and tamper alerts which can be linked to the smart systems of the service providers to report malfunctions and detect meter tampering. This reduces fraud which has always been a significant challenge. With smart meters in place, customers can also receive SMS, in-app notifications, and email reminders when they are running out of credit or drop below a pre-set threshold.
Such is the boost it provides to the more efficient delivery of services, that most municipalities across South Africa have already begun with smart meter roll outs. Most new developments come standard with smart meters especially at a time when the cost of electricity continue to rise.
While there has been some adoption in the different markets, we will likely see an increase in adoption over the coming year as business looks to reduce electricity losses, promote energy efficiency, and enhance their billing and credit control systems while utility costs still outperform inflation.
There are multiple cost-savings examples in the property market where smart metering has changed the landscape of the consumer as well as the landlord while outperforming the desirable ROI on the project. The starting point, and easiest measurement of a project, is calculated and approved based on a desirable ROI. The more difficult measurements are the operational efficiency, consumer satisfaction, and the direct effect the smart meters have on the environment by creating an appetite with consumers to manage their consumption habits better and change their habits where necessary.
With the fast-changing environment and the shift to be more environmentally friendly and reduction of carbon footprint, one must consider transitioning to this way or you may be found lagging behind the adoption curve.