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​The Utility Show allowed Joburg to reflect on what initiatives it had implemented and where further strides needed to be taken.
MUNICIPAL managers, operating officers, advisers and directors of power utilities and distributors all converged on the Sandton Convention Centre on 27 and 28 March to exchange knowledge and discuss best practices in revenue management, credit control and customer engagement strategies.

Exhibitors The exhibition gave participants a platform to showcase different power generation technologiesThis was for The Utility Show Africa 2012, which formed a component of the Power and Electricity World Africa trade show. The show is the continent’s largest, attracting about 4 000 visitors and about 250 exhibitors. This year was the 15th edition of the annual conference and exhibition.

At the top of the agenda for The Utility Show was meeting the challenge of offering uninterrupted power and energy supply to all citizens, as well as providing it in a sustainable manner. The City of Johannesburg participated in the discussion, with the director of energy, Thabo Mahlatsi, taking up the gauntlet on the first day of the conference.

He said: “Electrifying African houses has serious economic spin-offs but we, as Africans, need to work together.” He spoke about the need for African power utilities to restructure their tariffs in order to make the energy sector more inclusive, and of the need to support and implement renewable energy initiatives such as solar water heating systems, hydro power generation and landfill closed cycle gas turbine (CCGT), some of which Joburg has already implemented.

Also on the agenda was learning from other municipalities all over the world. Eric Callisto from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in the United States spoke about structuring rates and several of the initiatives that Wisconsin had put in place, such as time-of-use (TOU) rates; this refers to electricity prices that are set for a particular time period. Prices are known to customers, who are able to change their consumption to regulate their energy costs.

However, he mentioned it was a challenge to change consumers’ habits, and get them to look at the long-term benefits of cutting down on their consumption, which was something that municipalities and utilities needed to keep in mind.

opportunity to networkAn opportunity to network: The Power & Electricity World Africa exhibitionAnother topic that came up for discussion was smart metering and how it could enable customers to manage their electricity use.

Smart metering is already being implemented by the City, and is to be further rolled out in the coming years. It works by recording consumption in intervals of an hour or less and communicating this information back to a centralised database. By pinpointing hours of the day that consumption is highest, customers will be able to regulate their usage accordingly.

It also allows City Power to detect power outages when they occur and resolve the problem swiftly and efficiently.

The Africa Energy Awards, which celebrate excellence in Africa’s power and electricity sector, wrapped up The Utility Show on the evening of 28 March. The conference was a success for the City as it allowed it to reflect on what initiatives it had implemented, where it was in terms of other African and global utilities, as well as where further strides needed to be taken.

The Power and Electricity World Africa exhibition began on 26 March and will end on 29 March.

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