Ghana’s southern electricity distribution company, ECG, has assured its customers and stakeholders that it has started working assiduously to resolve the irregularities in prepayment credit being experienced by customers.
“We wish to assure our stakeholders that we have already started assiduous work to improve the communication link between the server and the meters, as well as replace faulty meters with new ones,” the company said in a statement signed by Managing Director, Kwame Agyeman-Budu.
This follows concerns raised by Institute for Energy Security (IES), a think tank, that there are widespread challenges being faced by ECG pre-paid customers.
The IES claimed that ECG customers who have pre-financed the use of electricity at a later time are having their electricity credits being converted to debits.
“The more a customer buys power to be used, the more the customer owes the ECG, resulting in many homes and workplaces being disconnected,” the energy think tank said.
Reacting to the claims, ECG, which commended IES for bringing the issues to their attention, however, discounted the claim that the system now converts customers credit to debt.
“There is no feature in the prepayment system that converts electricity credit to debt, or is there a facility in which the more a customer buys electricity, the more the customer owes the ECG.”
Giving explanation to the current challenges being face by customers, it said with ECG prepaid meters, money is deposited into a meter account and dispensed with an approved tariff till it is finished, then the meter disconnects electricity supply till another deposit is made.
According to ECG, in some minimal cases, the meter breaker stays connected and the meter continues to record the customer’s consumption on a zero balance, and this can lead to a debt.
For some smart meters deployed in 2014 in parts of Accra, the nation’s capital, the money is deposited into the customer’s account on a centralised server and gets dispensed only when the meter is remotely connected to the server. Delayed routine reconciliation due to failed remote communication between meters and the server automatically switches the meters into credit mode and allows the customers to consume electricity beyond their remaining credit.
This usually results in a negative balance when communication is restored between the server and the meters. In most cases, debt after the reconciliation of the customer’s initial deposit and the actual electricity consumed is scheduled for payment on flexible terms for the customer.
“Currently, a team of technical staff has been deployed to upgrade the communication network between the prepaid meters and the server, and this has resulted in the increasing debts of customers whose meters have been operating on credit mode, and as such have not made any commensurate purchases of electricity used over the months.
“We take this opportunity to thank our affected customers for their patience, and the IES for raising the concerns of customers,” ECG said.
Customers who require further information or have peculiar challenges with their prepaid meters are being advised to call the ECG customer service center on 0302 611611, where their details will be recorded for the metering experts to take up the issues and work promptly to normalize the situation.