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Clock ticking as pre-paid meters run out of time

All prepaid electricity meters will stop accepting credit tokens from November 2024, unless they participate in a rollover programme.

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Picture by Brian Katt

Between seven and eight million prepaid electricity meters in South Africa need to be reset before November 2024, as the mechanism used to manage, control and prevent credit token reuse will run out of numbers.

This means all existing prepaid meters will stop accepting credit tokens from November 2024, unless they participate in a token identifier (TID) rollover programme.
 
“Utilities have very little time left,” says Lance Hawkins-Dady, research and development manager at metering company Conlog and chairperson of the Standard Transfer Specification Association (STSA), the South African metering standards industry body. “There is a lot of planning that goes into ensuring a TID Rollover programme is successfully executed and the date of 24/11/2024 is fast approaching.”

The STSA has embarked on an awareness programme to inform utilities about the programme. 

Says Hawkins-Dady: “Currently all tokens contain a Token Identifier (TID) that is calculated on a base date of 1993. The TID is used to uniquely identify each token so that tokens cannot be used more than once. The TID will reach its maximum value in 2024. 

“When this event happens, all tokens will be considered as old and will no longer be accepted by the prepaid meters. The only way to prevent tokens being rejected post 24/11/2024 is for users of the STS technology to have successfully completed the TID Rollover programme.

“There is a lot of work that needs to be done and the time to get this done is decreasing every day. I encourage all utilities that have not yet started their TID Rollover programme or who are unsure of how to begin, to contact Conlog for assistance.”

It is estimated that there about 7-million meters currently in South Africa alone and this is expected to reach 8-million by 2024.

“It is difficult to predict how many meters are installed globally,” says Hawkins-Dady. “However we estimate this figure to be anywhere between 60- and 70-million. As more electricity meters are rolled out and with both gas and water utilities adopting the STS specification, the number of STS prepayment meters will increase rapidly.”

Hawkins-Dady will lead a live webinar on energy journal ESI Africa’s portal on 12 March on the “Risks of the STS TID Rollover”.  Registration is free. 

“We felt that it was imperative for us to bring an elevated awareness and understanding to all users of STS with regards to the impact of the TID rollover,” he says. “By all users I am referring to utilities, municipalities and sub-vendors. For some, especially those with a large installed base, the process may seem daunting. 

“We have developed a framework that can be tailored to suit each utility’s specific needs and challenges and we encourage all utilities that are facing the enormity of this challenge, to reach out to us for support and guidance. We want to ensure that no customer is impacted by the TID Rollover in 2024.”

The latest advances and challenges in the metering and smart energy industry, including the TID rollover, will also be discussed in the strategic conference of the 20th edition of the upcoming African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa in Cape Town from 12 to 14 May 2020. 

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