P.M. defends E.P.C. smart meters rollout

The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, has defended the implementation of the $4 million-plus smart meter rollout project by the Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C.). 

Earlier this year consumers complained of flaws in the new equipment’s design leading to the rollout being halted.

But the Prime Minister defended the new technology upgrade against earlier criticism. 

“It is our nature to be upset about any changes, hence people objecting to the [new smart meters],” the Prime Minister said on his programme with TV3 on Wednesday, hosted by Toelapai Rula Su’a Vaai. 

Last month, the newly appointed General Manager of E.P.C., Faumui Tauiliili Iese Toimoana told the Samoa Observer the Corporation is trying its best to get the new technology working so customers can be assured of its reliability. 

He said the E.P.C. is now looking at having the new system fully functional by next year. 

“We continue to receive complaints about the smart meters from members of the public and we cannot say they’re mistaken and so the E.P.C. has never stopped working on this project until it is fixed,” Faumui said at the time.

“We’re also in contact with the contractors of the smart meters and they will fix this error so we’re estimating that by next year it should be up and running.”

Faumui said he hoped complainants took into account the advantages that come with using smart meter technology on their electrical appliances. 

 The Prime Minister, during his program on Wednesday, said that technological improvements are always for the better. 

“The E.P.C. does not proceed with changes without relevant benefits for its consumers, but this is our nature; we just don’t want to adapt to any new changes,” he said.

While laughing, Tuilaepa said the same nature of the Samoan mindset is evident whenever the Government proposes any new legislation.

He also referenced the length of time for which the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) has been in office, which has some people calling for change. 

“And this is despite the Government doing great things for the country, people want to see new faces running the Government, and as indicated earlier that is the nature of our people,” the Prime Minister said. 

“And it begs the question, what happens after the change in Government? But there hasn’t been an answer to that query.”

Tuilaepa said people should appreciate the work and development achieved under the current Government. 

In August this year, the E.P.C. stopped the smart meter rollout following complaints from members of the public over the accuracy of the system. 

The Office of the Regulator conducted a survey among residents using newly installed smart meters, and feedback showed problems with their use, leading the Office to recommend the programme be halted. 

The former E.P.C. General Manager, Tologata Tile Tuimalealiifano, said the smart meters will be rolled out as the technical problems had been resolved and that E.P.C. has found a solution to the problem and is confident that the rollout will resume.

“Currently, there are some interference from frequencies where it operates, hence why the delay from the consumer, and the vending is also a problem but the company has found a solution,” he said earlier. 

“The main problem with smart meters is interference in communication. The smart meter is based at our main office in Sogi and it’s two-way communication.”

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