Advanced Prepayment Solutions
The Power-C Metering Africa solution adopts the guidelines from ESKOM in South Africa which specifies smart metering in smart prepayment systems (NRS049 – Smart Prepayment/Metering, and NRS084 -Load management and Demand response). Each Power-C Metering Africa smart meter has the flexibility to switch between pre-payment and post-payment from the MDM software without having to change the meter.
Power-C Metering Africa has engineered a pre-payment system enabling the operator to remotely control essential elements such as the ability to: (i) remotely credit a meter; (ii) remotely switch between credit and pre-payment; (iii) send immediate online tariff changes; (iv) provide emergency credit; (v) trickle flow or load limiting when credit runs out; and (vi) user friendly pre-notification of disconnections.
By using advanced communications technologies it is now possible to credit a meter remotely from the point of transaction. This eliminates the need for vending machine to purchase credit. In several Pre-Payment deployments where reliable GPRS communication exists, PCMA has installed the pre-Payment system without the need for the keypad and relied solely upon the communications to credit the meter.
PCMA’s reliable two-way communication verifies that the credit was successfully loaded and accepted into the meter, and sends an automatic (optional) SMS or Email to the customer advising that the transaction process has been completed.
PCMA point of sale direct access is an optional functionality of the system which features basic customer invoicing and payment reconciliations reports. This vending transaction solution avoids the cost to the utility of the extra payment for the vending payments process.
Friendly “over-draft” credit is an option to provide a small amount of emergency credit, so that customers can avoid loss of service in the middle of the night. The average amount can be immediately subtracted from the next payment. Another option in the case that the customer did not pay on-time is to allow the customer to consume small amounts of energy (only for lights and refrigerator) before full disconnection. Other options are: customised rates to different classes of customers; and suspension of automatic disconnections on weekends/holidays, during adverse weather conditions, and accounts flagged as “critical need/lifeline” (customers who, for instance, use vital breathing equipment) so that disconnection does not endanger health and safety.
The PCMA prepayment solution is the most secure in the world as it uses two elements. As well as using the STS code generator for producing the pre-paid token numbers, the PCMA system benefits by having hourly consumption readings from the meters as well as the balance of KW hours stored in the prepayment meter. With every increase in the KW hour balance within the system, the system automatically verifies with the billing and vending system whether that increase is backed up by a legal transaction. The system logs all activity with the meter so that it is able to maintain records of the individual who loaded the credit, whether it was performed automatically or manually, the time of the transaction and the amount. All this information is stored in the database and is available for mangers to verify.
The system sends a reminder to customer when their credit is low. As the account balance approaches zero, the billing system initiates a message to the customer and sends it via an outgoing text message, or email. The PCMA customer portal website enables each customer to enter their unique username and password to access their consumption history in graphs according to user selected intervals