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Clarity sought on the City of Cape Town’s prepaid electricity metering software

The City said failure to upgrade would result in customers not being able to recharge their meters with new tokens and they would be left without a power supply. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

The City said failure to upgrade would result in customers not being able to recharge their meters with new tokens and they would be left without a power supply. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 6, 2022

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Cape Town - Lobby group Stop CoCT and ratepayers are seeking clarity on the City's prepaid electricity metering software update which began last week in the Milnerton, Table View, Blaauwberg, Parklands and Melkbosstrand areas.

Stop CoCT founder Sandra Dickson said while this was a good idea, there was scant information available on what changes the new software would bring and how this would benefit the ratepayers.

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The City said failure to upgrade would result in customers not being able to recharge their meters with new tokens and they would be left without a power supply.

It said the upgrade would follow a phased approach, with Plattekloof, Parow and Goodwood to follow from February 1.

Dickson said the City should be more forthcoming with information about the upgrades.

“These meters have been around for decades and this is the first time such an upgrade is needed. Stop CoCT urges the City to be more transparent and inform the public what changes will be made and spell out what, if any, benefits there are to the public. Upgrading 570 000 prepaid meters will be a costly exercise requiring lots of manpower, which ratepayers will have to pay,” she said.

Ratepayer Adele Pote said she was hoping that the City would clarify why a system with “expiring software” was used and the cost for the upgrades.

“Over and above prepaid metering software concerns, to my knowledge meters require calibration from time to time. How do citizens know with certainty whether the installed meters have been accurately calibrated upon installation?” she said.

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Energy mayoral committee member Beverley van Reenen said the current prepaid electricity metering software would expire in 2024 for all prepaid electricity meters in South Africa. She said this was the first update in the history of prepaid meters and was scheduled to be done every 31.9 years.

Van Reenen said the City was changing the base date in the meter to 2014 and was updating the cryptographic strength of the meter firmware. She said the update would not include any additional features.

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