ECG stops power theft with new metering system

The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) has reduced its customer debt from 27 to 22 per cent following the introduction of street meters in two districts in the Greater Accra region, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the company has said.

A few years ago, the ECG introduced Prepaid Street Meters at Teshie-Nungua and Bortianor on pilot basis primarily to reduce losses and stop customers from tampering with the meters. 

Under the project, a number of meters owned by different customers are mounted on one pole unlike the postpaid meters which are in the confines of the homes of customers.

In an interview with The Mirror, the PRO of ECG, Mr William Boateng, said the introduction of the street prepaid meters was to improve upon the service and minimise theft of power.

He explained that the districts were carefully selected for the project based on the low purchasing power and income levels of consumers there. This was to help determine whether it would be suitable for Ghana as a whole to adopt the street metering system. 

He explained that the company embarked on the pilot scheme to also gauge acceptability of the project by the people.

‘The ECG does not intend to spread the new scheme to everybody nationwide. There will still be people who will continue to be on the postpaid meters until we are satisfied with operations in the two pilot districts,’ he said. 

Mr Boateng said similar projects were on going in other developing countries. He said before the installation of the prepaid meters, a survey conducted by the company revealed that the system was suitable for Ghana, taking into consideration issues of weather, safety of the meters and their durability. 

He said that one of the biggest challenges faced by all electricity companies worldwide was how to check and control theft of electric power. He said this had also been one of the biggest challenges the ECG was facing. 

‘It was as a result of this that the company has targeted densely populated areas to start its pilot project’, he said.

But primarily, the ECG PRO said the installation of prepaid meters was for the purpose of reducing losses and improve on the collection of debts.

He explained that when the system worked smoothly, it would enhance the reliability and quality of power supply.

According to Mr Boateng, since the beginning of the project, the company’s losses had reduced by 10 per cent. He said complaints lodged by consumers helped the company to correct defects and errors. 

For instance, he said complaints by consumers over the large number of meters on a single pole had been considered. Under the circumstance,’a new approach has been devised to push the meters further up the poles and that the consumer can use an automatically controlled device to control the meters from a favourable distance’.

He condemned the practice where some consumers tampered with power supply systems by connecting high energy consumables such as air conditioners and electric stoves directly to cables on the poles while tapping power for low energy consumables such as bulbs through the meter.  

On load shedding, Mr Boateng said the practice was still on-going as energy suppliers were still not certain when maintenance and expansion works would be completed.

A resident of Teshie, Mr Richard Sowah, told The Mirror that the street metres were more expensive to use as compared with the post-paid ones. He also said the street metres seemed to run faster than the post-paid ones. 

‘When I buy GH¢60 worth of electricity, it gets used up in less than two weeks,’ Mr Sowah said. ‘Due to that, I have stopped using appliances such as fan and rice cooker in order to save money.’

Another resident, Naa Merley Korley, said she did not like the introduction of the street meters because they were mounted outside and thought it was not safe to step out when one’s credit run out late at night. 

She also added that  some residents found it difficult using the remote controls that came with the meters while others complained of their remote controls not functioning at all.

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