Electricity meters in Uganda to be re-tested

The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), the statutory body that develops and promotes standards, will re-test all the electricity meters currently in use.

It will also test new meters before the power distribution companies install them at premises. UNBS will do all this to establish if the meters are of the required standard for measuring electricity.

Testing the meters comes at a time when some electricity consumers claim 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. However, this might not be the case.

UNBS’ fee for testing prepaid meters is US $11 (US $1.4 is for the starting test, US $1.4 creeping test, US $1.4 high voltage testing fee, US $8.2 accuracy fee and US $2.7 laboratory fee). As of September 30, 2017, Umeme had 1 million customers.

It is not clear when UNBS will start the testing and when the exercise will end. However, it is clear that the staff will go to electricity consumers’ premises to test the installed meters.

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

John Julius Wandera, ERA’s Manager Consumer and Public Affairs said that the only debate is who will meet the cost; will it be the government or the consumer?

Meter testing regulations

UNBS has regulations for meter testing. The regulator is to uphold those regulations. 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. This will include the suggestion of factoring in the meter testing in the retail tariff.

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