Fair and transparent generator billing: Ensuring equitable utility management

Share this...

With electricity costs continuously soaring and Nersa approving an annual increase in 2023 of 18.65% (over CPI), landlords and tenants face a challenging landscape.

Coupled with the burden of load-shedding and the higher energy cost of generators, fair and transparent billing becomes essential for harmonious landlord-tenant relationships. In response to this pressing need, RMS, the largest private utility service provider in South Africa, is has announced the release of its innovative generator cost-recovery solution.

The complexity of generator cost recovery

Supplementing grid energy with diesel generators adds a layer of complexity to billing and cost recovery. Inaccurate billing of generator costs can lead to financial losses for landlords and undue financial stress for tenants. Recognising this challenge, RMS offers its generator cost recovery solution to address the need for a comprehensive approach to ensure fairness and accuracy in billing.

“Our Generator cost recovery solution strengthens our seamless end-to-end utility management offering, and further mitigates the risks of unfair or incorrect billing,” said Ilse Swanepoel, Chief Operating Officer at RMS. “By leveraging advanced metering technologies, powerful software, and robust business processes, our solution guarantees tenants are billed for the energy they utilise during power outages, eliminating discrepancies.”

The role of smart metering in fair cost recovery

A robust smart metering architecture plays a crucial role in the RMS Generator cost recovery solution, which ensures accurate and fair cost recovery for electricity generated by diesel generators. Smart meters collect energy consumption data regularly, typically every 30 minutes or less, providing a granular view of tenants’ daily consumption patterns. This real-time data collection is particularly essential for accurate generator billing.

“With interval data collected by smart meters, our Generator cost recovery solution automatically conducts load profile analysis of the power delivered by the generator as well as all the points of consumption, in particular tenants, and our system automatically applies the correct tariff to the periods when a building relies on generator power,” explained Mario Schehle, Chief Information Officer at RMS. “We invested significant effort to enhance our billing platform to automatically perform generator billing, as manual processes are too risky and prone to error, due to the inherent complexity of generator cost recovery in multi-tenanted buildings. The investment in developing this functionality aligns with our long-term view on the rapid revolution of the utility space, with energy sources like generators, solar PV, battery storage, and even wheeling agreements becoming more and more prevalent. When we designed our generator billing solution, we made sure it could scale easily to cater to these additional energy sources.”

Benefits for landlords and tenants

By implementing the RMS Generator cost recovery solution, both landlords and tenants can reap significant benefits:

1. Landlords can recover the actual cost of electricity produced by diesel generators, helping to cover the additional expenses incurred due to interruptions in grid energy supply.

2. Accurate billing minimises revenue leakage and, in this way, maximises profitability, ensuring a healthy return on investment for landlords.

3. Transparent billing practices foster trust and satisfaction among tenants, promoting positive landlord-tenant relationships and tenant retention.

4. The fair allocation of costs provides a sense of fairness to tenants, preventing unnecessary financial burdens, and enables tenants to take control of their electricity expenses during power interruptions.

Additional generator services for seamless generator management

In addition to accurate billing, proper generator maintenance and fuel level monitoring are vital for a seamless utility management offering. Regular maintenance ensures efficient generator operation, minimising downtime and reducing reliance on costly diesel energy. Real-time fuel level monitoring enables landlords to plan to refuel effectively, ensuring an uninterrupted power supply.

“Our generator monitoring and fuel management solutions enable landlords to proactively manage their generators, leveraging our data-driven approach to generator maintenance,” stated Lee Ferreira, Operations & Maintenance Solution Owner at RMS. “Furthermore, in conjunction with RMS’ generator cost recovery solution, this empowers landlords to make well-informed decisions regarding cost recovery, as they gain a clear understanding of the actual diesel cost to produce a kWh.”

RMS offers an end-to-end generator maintenance service with state-of-the-art fuel level monitoring and reporting, further enhancing the value of their utility management solutions.

Customised solutions for all scenarios

While a robust smart metering infrastructure is ideal for the RMS Generator cost recovery solution, RMS recognises that not all buildings have fully remote or smart metering sites. The solution makes provisions for scenarios where only smart meters have been installed on the generator supply but not at the tenant level or where only conventional meters are available.

“Our recovery team will work closely with landlords to determine the fairest and most accurate allocation of fuel expenses to tenants, even in scenarios without smart metering,” said Ronel le Roux, Utility Management Team Lead at RMS. “While alternative solutions are available, we strongly recommend transitioning to smart metering for full transparency and confidence in cost recovery.”