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Prepay meters make financial sense
08 August 2008

There are significant benefits to going the prepayment route when it comes to electricity; the user, for example, controls consumption.

Prepaid meters help to manage the consumption of electricity
Prepaid meters help to manage the consumption of electricity

RESIDENTS and businesses have been encouraged by City Power to apply for prepayment electricity meters, as they are cheaper than credit meters.

According to Silas Zimu, the managing director of City Power, there are several benefits to having prepayment meters - there are no estimations, overcharges or undercharges; there is no need for meter readers; and there is full consumption control.

No consumption deposit is required when applying; there are no service charges; and better financial management is possible for customers because they buy only what they need each month.

Prepaid customers who are on the lifeline tariff can claim their free 50KWh, while customers on lifeline tariff one - those using less than 300KWh - are entitled to 100KWh of free electricity a month, provided they are legally connected.

Converting to prepayment meters takes 21 working days, unless technicians have busy workloads.

Zimu points out that going the prepayment route is not only for poor people; everyone qualifies for prepayment meters. "We are encouraging customers to go the prepayment route as there are immediate benefits to the user."

With credit meters, meter readers must visit premises to read the meter once a month. The reader then uploads the information into the City Power system and an account is sent to the consumer.

If the meter is broken or faulty, the reader estimates the amount of electricity used based on the amount used in the previous months. Human error is, therefore, possible. For example, the consumer could have been away and not used the same amount of electricity as in previous months.

In 2005, the City installed over 30 000 meters in a bid to eliminate service account problems.

"We are in the process of expanding the availability of prepaid tokens to banks, petrol garages and spaza shops to meet consumer needs," Zimu says.

Consumers can only convert to prepayment once their electricity accounts are settled in full or they have signed an acknowledgement of debt with the City. A conversion fee must also be paid. The fee differs depending on the size of the meter, ranging from R3 306 for a single-phase 80 amp meter to R8 094 for a three-phase 80 amp meter.

For more information or to apply for a prepayment meter, contact any City Power Customer Service Centre: Central on 011 490 7000; Lenasia on 011 857 1842/3; Alexandra on 011 443 8800; Midrand on 011 256 8500; Randburg on 011 793 1105; Roodepoort on 011 470 3600; Siemert on 011 402 5750; and Hursthill on 011 830 0041.

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