E.P.C. stops smart meter roll out

The Electric Power Corporation has ceased the roll out of its $4.1 million smart meter project following complaints from the public about the accuracy of the system. 

In response to queries from the Samoa Observer, E.P.C. General Manager, Tologata Tile Tuimalealiifano confirmed the decision to halt the project. 

A survey recently carried out by the Office of the Regulator on residents with newly installed smart meters exposed problems encountered by users leading to the recommendation to cease the roll out. 

“Yes the rolling out of smart meters has been ceased while [the] E.P.C., Office of the Regulator and the Supplier of Smart Meters (ITRON) are working on the interference experience on telecommunication networks,” said the E.P.C. General Manager. 

Tologata assured that households who already have the smart meters installed are doing well except for some delays in response to the system due to interference of telecommunication. 

 “Once we address and solve the telecommunication interference that we are facing, then we will continue with the installation of smart meters to the rest of our consumers,” he added. 

The General Manager emphasised the benefits of the smart meters that can provide for both the customers and E.P.C. remove access to the meter. 

He said other benefits include meter reading can be done remotely and disconnection will be done remotely for single phase and three phase direct consumers. 

Consumers can purchase using prepaid phones, consumers can monitor their electricity consumption and know the quality of electricity they are receiving, said Tologata. 

“[The] E.P.C. can also remotely monitor the quality of electricity and act accordingly before consumers complain or report.” 

Unlike the cash power meter that switches off when credit runs out, the smart meter can be programmed to still be on if the meter runs out of credit during night time. 

Tologata said this gives consumer time to purchase electricity the next morning. 

Minister of Communications Information Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupai reaffirmed that the smart meters roll out has been ceased upon recommendation from the Regulator's Office. 

He said this has been done to allow the Regulator and the E.P.C. to work together to address issues raised by those being surveyed by the Regulator. 

The survey report from the Regulator highlighted complaints from residents alleging false information from E.P.C. that messages will be received after purchase of new balance. 

However, the residents stated that it takes more than two days until they receive the message. 

In conclusion the Regulator’s office said: “The users we have interviewed are enough to represent all other users with smart meters that raised issues they faced with these smart meters”. 

“We have recorded that most users do not prefer smart meters due to the reasons stated,” said the Regulator. 

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