MULFUNTIONING UTILITY METERS (EASY PAY METERS) MAY BE PPL’S BIGGEST MONEY PIT
Utility Meters used for the metering of power, clean water, gas, taxi meter, Parking Meters, Telephone Meters, can be the main cause a Utility company such as PPL, huge sums of money in lost revenue. This is if the very meters installed are not calibrated for their metering accuracy and tested for functionality purposes as per their calibration cycles.
This is what the Director General of National Institute of Standards and Industrial Technology, Mr. Victor Gabi had to say following the announcement on this daily of the resignation of yet another Managing Director of PNG Power.
Mr. Gabi said that it was concerning to see Mr. Flagon Becker another qualified CEO in this sector resign after a short stint with PNG Power. Since taking office and the recent announcement of Loss of K25 million every month in PPL’s distribution network is a very good starting point. For me there is a window of hope now for PNG Power and its stakeholders to work together and troubleshoot causes of PNG Powers lost revenue.
Whilst PNG power loses K25 million each month, we do not believe all this loss is stolen, we believe a good portion of it is lost through in-accurate (uncalibrated) or malfunctioning easy-pay meters still in use.
One thing that has been lacking in PNG Power is the lack of regular monitoring and evaluation programs, such as calibration and testing of Household Meters, Inspection of Household Installation of Meters.
Furthermore, PNG Power is not using the type of easy-pay meter that has been recommended by the International Organization of Legal Metrology (OIML) which is the international Metrology Body that pattern approves such things like utility meters which are certified to be sold internationally. We have on several occasions crossed paths when PPL wanted to purchase a new type of meter for household metering. NISIT had made several recommendations on this, but PPL had to make their own choice on it.
Having said this the current meter is not the best one in the international market but is already put in use however an effective calibration program has never been in place. So, the only solution therefore is PNG Power to employ an effective calibration program for all Easy-pay meters in PNG.
Easy pay meters installed in houses as we speak are approved for a pattern to be recalibrated every 5 years, 7 years and replaced on the 10th year. Similarly, a sample verification must be carried out in situ every 2 years. Failure to do this can lead to disastrous consequences, as I believe this is what we are seeing for PPL.
Failure to be up to date with the calibration program of these batch of easy pay meters calls for a complete replacement of all easy-pay meters starting from Port Moresby, as all meters in houses have been compromised due to the lack of information of installation and commissioning, and no single calibration service done on them, no testing for performance according to (OIML R46). I would like PNG Power to look into this issue and develop a proper metering plan/program for the Utility Meter (Easy-pay Meter) as a matter of urgency if they want PPL’s bottom line to change.
It is also a good move by Government to create the National Energy Authority which will take carriage of the Regulatory Aspects of this sector out of PPL to create the independence it needs in ensuring standards are met. I call on the NEA and PPL and ICCC to sanction an inspection program for a fact-finding mission- do this quickly to come up with the metering issues and facts and invite NISIT so we can work through your solutions.