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Smart meters not expensive: E.P.C. chief

Smart meters are not “more expensive” than the previous cash power meters, says the Electric Power Corporation's Chief Executive Officer, Faumui Tauiliili Toimoana.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, the E.P.C. head said that was one of the main concerns raised during their consultations with the public a couple of weeks ago.

But Faumui said that’s “not the case" as the units' cost remains the same between the old and new meters used.

He explained that the misunderstanding is usually because whilst cash power meters display the units’ worth of the amount the customer bought, the smart meter displays the money value bought instead.

“Many of the issues raised by the people include claims that the new meter (smart meters) is more expensive than the old meters and we explained that there is no difference or a change to the charges on electricity,” said Faumui.

“It is the same price, but for this [new] meter, it shows you your credit in the talā value. But the old meter showed kilowatt units that customers bought.”

Faumui assured that problems encountered by consumers in the trial have been resolved.

He said customers can keep track of their daily usage by checking the meter at the same time each day to nail down daily usage.

“You can check your meter at 6 a.m. to see the kilowatts at that time and check again the next day at 6 a.m.; from there you can deduct the two amounts and find out how many kilowatts you used within the last 24 hours,” Faumui explained.

The E.P.C. is continuing the smart meter project expansion this week following the Office of the Regulator (O.O.T.R.) giving the green light to continue with the mass rollout of the $4.1 million project, after it was halted last August. 

The expansion is starting in Vaitele uta, Vaitele tai, Vaiusu, Vailoa, and Vaigaga. This will add to some 2900 smart meters already installed in Vaitele fou, Nu’u, and Siusega. 

Meanwhile, customers can expect another increase in their electricity bills from next month according to the state-owned power supplier. 

The new electricity rates have been approved by the Office of the Regulator and will be effective June 1. 

The notice on the change in its tariff per unit of electricity is due to energy charge monthly changes and "reinstatement of the 0.10 sene provided for the COVID-19 stimulus package." 

Last year, government announced its COVID-19 stimulus package in 2020 which included a $0.10 sene reduction in the cost of electricity, which was an intervention that acknowledged Samoans’ financial hardships. 

Domestic consumers using cash power will now pay $0.60 per unit for 1-50 kilowatts and $0.74 per unit for 51 kilowatts and over, as shown in an E.P.C. notice dated 20 May. 

Non-domestic consumers using cash power will be charged at a rate of $0.74 for all units. The same rate will also apply to domestic users on postpaid (induction) meters. 

Non-domestic consumers for postpaid will be charged $0.79 for all units.

For this year, the increase in electricity prices began in April 2021.

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