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ECG explains how its prepaid customers get debts

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The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) says it has started work to improve the communication link between its servers and prepaid meters to reduce instances of its customers getting debts on their meters.

In a press release addressing concerns by the Institute of Energy Securities about the service it renders to prepaid customers, the ECG said its team of technical staff have been deployed to upgrade the communication network between the prepaid meters and its servers which has resulted in debts for some customers.

Addressing concerns by the Institute of Energy Securities about the service it renders to prepaid customers, the ECG said there is no feature in the prepayment system that converts electricity credit to debt.

“Currently, a team of technical staff have 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,” the release said.

“We take this opportunity to thank our affected customers for their patience, and the IES for raising the concerns of customers. However, 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 release signed by the Managing Director of ECG, Kwame Agyemang-Budu added that in some “minimal cases, prepaid customers stay connected even after their credit runs out which can lead to a debt which is deducted at the next deposit.

“ECG currently operates internationally approved standard prepayment metering systems for over 2 million customers using the approved PURC tariff. There is no feature in the prepayment systems that converts electricity credit to debt, nor is there a facility where “the more a customer buys electricity, that customer will owe ECG”,” the release said.

“Generally, 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. 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”.

The release further explained that there can be a lag in communication between ECG servers and some smart meters deployed in 2014 which can result in a negative balance when communication is restored

“For some smart meters deployed in 2014 in parts of Accra, the money is deposited into the customer’s account on a centralized server and gets dispensed only when the meter is remotely connected to the server,” the release said.

“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”.

Read the entire release below;

Date: 22nd December 2020

PRESS RELEASE

RE: THE ECG MUST QUICKLY RESOLVE THE CHALLENGES OF PREPAID CUSTOMERS

The Electricity Company of Ghana’s (ECG) attention has been drawn to a media release on 21 December 2020, by the Institute of Energy Security (IES) to quickly resolve challenges of prepaid customers.

The ECG wishes to explain the situation to its stakeholders and our cherished customers as follows;

ECG currently operates internationally approved standard prepayment metering systems for over 2 million customers using the approved PURC tariff. There is no feature in the prepayment systems that converts electricity credit to debt, nor is there a facility where “the more a customer buys electricity, that customer will owe ECG”

Generally, 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. 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 money is deposited into the customer’s account on a centralized 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 have 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. However, 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.

Customers who require further information or have peculiar challenges with their prepaid meters are being advised to call ECG customer service centre 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. Thank you. END.

Kwame Agyeman-Budu

Managing Director.

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