Remote Meter Reading for Standalone Prepaid Meters.

Today a high percentage of electricity revenue is lost due to power theft, incorrect meter reading and billing, and reluctance of consumers to payment of electricity bills for meters working in credit mode. Despite the fact that Smart Metering and AMI Infrastructure is being adopted by more and more countries, becomes mandatory and is included in metering road-maps, many countries still cannot afford to invest into smart metering, communication infrastructure and respective software, which together with prepaid meters could eliminate revenue losses.

Considerable amount of revenue losses can be reduced by using only Standalone Prepaid Electricity Meters and this is what motivates electricity utilities in many countries to install them. One of the most wide-spread technologies used for prepayment meters is STS (Standard Transfer Specification). It is being required in majority of countries on African continent, as well as in some countries of Asia and Latin America. The solution was originally designed for standalone meters which do not require communication infrastructure and never report energy consumption to utility.

Large projects involving use of standalone prepayment meters in Ghana, South Africa, Indonesia and other countries show that such lack of reporting is a serious disadvantage in standalone STS prepaid meters being even a catalyzer for electricity theft. Consumers who use prepaid meters have a higher motivation to steal power as compared to those on postpaid meters. The utility being based not on consumption data registered by the meter, but rather on the information from vending software, has an exposure:  malevolent consumers and sometimes even electricians working for utilities enter into illegal deals of bypassing the meter and while the vending software reports monthly purchase of tokens for certain value of kWh, in reality the token is never used and electricity consumption bypassing the meter can be seriously higher than the purchased token.

So how to overcome this problem in a situation where there is a need to get reporting of consumption and tampering alarms from meters while smart metering infrastructure is not affordable for electricity utility?

ADD GRUP offers its new generation of meters suitable for prepaid metering and supporting STS standard. The new generation has modular meters with replaceable modules (PLC, Hybrid, RF, Cellular) and DIN-rail mounted meters. Both categories have BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) interface.

Together with ADDERRA payment control solution meters that do not have communication module are no longer stand-alone. The system is structured in such a way, that every time you need to get a new token, you first have to exchange data between meter and a key-fob or between meter and a smartphone app. This is possible through the use of integrated BLE interface. The data which are received from the meter can be current consumption and alarms (tampering, power down etc) or any other registers. The keyfob and app will send these data into HES before new token transaction happens. So now the consumer becomes a reliable data carrier and while utility having this info from stand-alone meters and being able to compare those with information from vending software is much better prepared to deal with electricity theft even without having built communication infrastructure.

Both BLE DIN-rail meters and modular meters can become part of smart metering infrastructure at a later stage as soon as electricity utility gets sufficient funding for such investment.

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