Smart meter company says it “won’t hurt Emfuleni” through mass power cut-off

Archive photo: An upset group of residents last year took matters in their own hands when they removed Smart Meter infrastructure in Peacehaven, Vereeniging. Although some residents don't want to have Smart Meters installed at their premises, others say the meters function perfevtly and that their electricity bills iare even lower and more manageable than on any previous system.

 
Craig Kotze

“We are part of the Emfuleni community and we will never hurt our people or the business sector by mass disabling of the smart meter system. In fact we would do everything in our power to avoid such an event.”

That is the response of BXCSA – the company and contract-holder responsible for developing and implementing Gauteng’s most advanced functioning smart meter system – on fears that it could be forced to disable the entire network should the local municipality terminate its contract.

More than 9 000 Emfuleni businesses and residents rely on smart meters for electricity and power resupply but to date the local authority has not addressed widespread security of supply fears. Installations to reach a 66 000 contractual target in the region have been repeatedly halted by the municipality itself.

To date, it is believed that BXCSA has generated close to R150 million for the local municipality through smart meters but has not received any payment yet from the local authority.

Emfuleni’s Golden Triangle Chamber of Commerce (GTCoC) has welcomed the statement from BXCSA, and has again made an urgent call on the Emfuleni Local Municipality (ELM) to clarify the situation between itself and BXCSA.

“The situation cannot simply be left hanging in the air and acute uncertainty in this regard must be addressed as a matter of urgency. We thus again urge ELM to clarify the situation,” said Klippies Kritzinger, CEO of GTCoC.

However, a BXCSA spokesperson refused to comment in any way whatsoever on its contractual relationship with ELM or whether its R1,1 billion contract was under review or headed to court due to non-payment by ELM.

“We have invested close to R500 million in Emfuleni at own risk and we are committed to seeing Emfuleni prosper and become an investment destination. As long as the smart meter system is under our control we will never do a mass disablement of the smart meter system,” the spokesperson told Ster/Vaalweekblad.

The spokesperson also refused to comment on reports that ELM was contractually bound to pay it up to R700 million in a contract termination scenario or that the municipality also owed BXCSA close to R30 million in additional payments.

ELM Municipal Manager Oupa Nkoane told Ster/Vaalweekblad last week he could not comment on the issue as the “matter could go to court”, but the BXCSA spokesperson also refused to comment on the matter.

Ster/Vaalweekblad has established that BXCSA has been forced to lay off employees due to failure of ELM to pay and has been operating on a skeleton staff for months.

Ster/Vaalweekblad is in contact with the Emfuleni Local Council regarding the Smart Meter situation and we will give feedback as soon as more information about the future of the project is available.

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