23 November 2017

Uganda: All Electricity Meters to Be Retested

Kampala — The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), the statutory body that develops and promotes standards, will retest all the electricity metres currently in use.

It will also test new metres before the power distribution companies install them at premises.

UNBS will do all this to establish if the metres are of the required standard for measuring electricity.

Testing the metres comes at a time when some electricity consumers are claiming their meters' disks or counters run faster than normal.

Thus, the counters or dials, which indicate the total amount of power used, give the impression that consumers have used more units of electricity, which might not be the case.

UNBS' fee for testing prepaid meters is Shs40, 000 (Shs5, 000 is for the starting test, Shs5, 000 creeping test, Shs5, 000 high voltage testing fee, Shs30, 000 accuracy fee and Shs10, 000 laboratory fee).

Umeme, as of September 30, 2017 had 1 million customers.

It is not clear when UNBS will start the testing and when the exercise will end.

Also not clear is how many UNBS staff will be involved.

What is clear, according to electricity distributor Umeme's application, is that the staff will go to electricity consumers' premises to test the installed meters.

Umeme has now written to the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) to consider the resultant costs.

"Umeme has written to ERA to consider the corresponding costs to execute the meter testing within the tariff computation as operational costs for installed meters and capital costs..." Umeme said through its Tariff Review Application for 2018.

The tariff for distributing power is composed of operation and maintenance (O&M) costs, energy losses, uncollected electricity payments and investment-related costs.

Testing of the meters would, going by the aforementioned formula, be under the O&M expenses.

"The debate now is who will meet the cost. Will it be the government or the consumer [through the retail tariff]?" ERA's Manager Consumer and Public Affairs, John Julius Wandera, said.

"UNBS came up with regulations for meter testing and the regulator is interested in upholding those regulations."

Attempts to reach UNBS' spokesperson Barbara Kamusiime failed.

ERA is going through different power utilities tariff review applications for 2018.

Additionally, it will through a public hearing next month seek for publics' views on the utilities proposals, including the suggestion of factoring in the meter testing in the retail tariff.

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