THE Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company says revenue inflows have increased by over 35 percent since the adoption of the prepaid meter system, which has also helped to significantly whittle down debts.
Without stating figures, ZETDC said that the prepaid metering project resulted in increased revenue inflows per month and significant avoided costs. The power utility embarked on the programme about half a decade ago.
This bodes well for it’s the company’s capital intensive operations after the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority last year declined its request for a tariff hike.
The power utility had applied to increase its tariff to 14,69 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) to cover for increased costs of procuring emergency power from Dema, Mozambique’s Hydro Cahora Bassa and Eskom of South Africa.
ZETDC said sometime last year that its revenue collections had increased by about 20 percent from an average of $54 million per month to $64,8 million.
Parent firm, Zesa Holding’s generation unit said the prepaid system has allowed it to collect not just what was due from current sales, but also outstanding amounts from the electricity consumed during the post paid ear.
ZETDC said it has collected $123 million from debts from its customers’ longstanding debts while an amount of $247 million was still outstanding, but is being amortized through a fixed 50 percent deduction on all new sales.
However, the outstanding debt is spread equally over a six months period for industrial or commercial users who shall be migrated from post paid to smart metering. About 4 000 of the targeted 40 000 units will be installed by end of year.
“The collection index for post paid meters was around 65 percent but collection increased to more than 100 percent (including repayment of legacy debt for every purchase) after migration to the prepayment metering.
“Since inception of the project, ZETDC has collected debt around $123 million from customers migrated to prepayment metering,” Zesa Holdings said.
ZETDC is owed $136 million by domestic users and $32 million by industrial or commercial consumers both being users who were migrated to the prepaid system, which requires customers to pay upfront and avoids operational costs associated with meter reading, credit control and billing users.
Zesa is working on introducing smart metering system will be deployed at points where it is technically not feasible to deploy the standard prepaid meters.
Smart metering will enable convert medium and large power users to prepayment to prevent the accumulation of debt and improve operational efficiency.
The tenders for platform and meters are at an advanced stage and the plan is to install 4 000 meters by December 2017.
The full scope of the smart metering project is 40 000 meters and the balance will be deployed on a phased approach with the project expected to be complete by first quarter of 2019.
Smart metering usually consist of meters deployed at sites, communication infrastructure and the back-end system that is commonly known as the meter data management system that will be acquired through a separate tender.