Speaking at a recent meeting of the Highveld branch of the Association of Municipal Electrical Utilities (AMEU), Nomalungelo Mbewu, the general manager for strategy at Johannesburg’s City Power, said that the company intends to have all electricity customers who use less than 1000 kWh/month on prepaid meters, while those who consume more than 1000 kWh/month will be billed according to time-of-use (ToU) tariffs by means of smart meters.
The power company, which now sees its itself as an energy company, not just as an electricity supply utility, is considering the implementation of a system which will prevent prepaid customers who are in arrears with their water and rates from purchasing additional electricity credits. This has been implemented by some other municipalities with great success, said Mbewu.
City Power is also working on a pilot project which, if successful, will enable it to add more than the existing limit of 1 MW per 1000 dwellings in informal settlements. The residents, the company has found, want more than just lights, a cellphone charger and a TV. The company is therefore considering the possibility of a combination of locally-sited solar PV and storage to bolster the total supply to the community. It may be possible to supply natural gas to some of these communities for cooking and heating, too.
The company, which is owned by the City of Johannesburg, plans to offer energy derived from biogas and natural gas as well as electricity derived from Kelvin, its coal-fired power station, and Eskom.
In this regard, the company is in discussion with Eskom in a bid to take over the supply of electricity to Soweto and other areas in the greater Johannesburg area which are currently supplied by Eskom directly. The company is also in discussions with the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) regarding the licensing of embedded distributed generation.
In response to a question, Mbewu said that City Power has a power-purchase agreement with the owners of Kelvin Power Station until 2021. The power station is expected to continue operating until at least that date.
The company’s strategic focus is the maintenance and proper operation of traffic lights and street lights. It will address the problems of theft, vandalism and out-of-service plant, such as cables, circuit breakers and transformers to ensure a reliable service.
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