E.P.C.'s "smart meter" switch to cost $4.1 million
Electric Power Corporation’s (E.P.C.) smart meter technology will cost the state-owned entity US$1.6 million (T$4.1 million) and take three years to roll out.
That is the view of the E.P.C. General Manager, Tologata Tile Tuimaleali’ifano, when he gave the Samoa Observer an overview of the project and its implementation in an exclusive interview on Monday.
He said work to begin the installation of the new meters should have started last month, but the arrival of the meters in the country has been delayed until next week.
“We have geared up our employees in terms of their training has already been done, so that once the meters arrive we will go straight into the process of installing them,” he says.
The installation of the meters will start in Letogo, before the E.P.C. team moves to Fagali’i, Apia, Vailima and Vaitele.
Tologata said the rolling out of the new meters will take three years to complete as it will depend on the finances of the organisation.
“Because we cannot achieve this entire $US1.6 million in one year,” he said.
The benefits of moving to smart meter technology are mainly threefold for both the electricity consumer and the E.P.C..
The C.E.O. said one benefit for the consumer is the automatic crediting of the consumer’s electricity account, thus removing the need for the public to manually punch their credits into the cashpower meter as is done today.
The new technology will also enable the E.P.C. to remotely monitor consumers’ meters from their main office in Sogi, which according to Tologata means they can detect any attempts to tamper with the meter and in the process nullify theft.
“Those are the advantages for us here at E.P.C.,” he said.
Remote monitoring of the meters by the power regulator also cuts out the need for meter readers to visit consumers’ residents, which the C.E.O. said is in line with their reforms to reduce employee numbers.
“Mind you, the reform that E.P.C. did was to lessen our employees. There will be no more remotely meter readers as there are only a few remotely read meters left,” he added.
The state-owned power company will work with consumers who still use meters in the old system, who will read their own meters and report to their office.
Tologata said their goal ultimately is to reduce the theft of electricity by consumers and add value to the service that they are providing Samoa’s electricity consumers.
An app is also being developed to enable consumers to access information on their power meters at their leisure using their smartphones, the C.E.O. added. The extra features could include the use of Digicel’s Money Wallet and BlueSky’s M-Tala, which he said could become consumer’s payment platform alternatives, as work continues behind the scenes with the two telecommunication companies.
“If you are registered on the M-Tala or Money Wallet, you can just purchase your power from there,” he said.
Tologata said more updates on the new system will be made available to the public next week when the new meters arrive in the country.