New ECG metres nightmare for customers
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New ECG meters nightmare for customers

The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), Accra West Region, announced that it had acquired 450,000 new meters for replacement in residents and industrial facilities.

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Over the course of the exercise, which started a couple of months ago, ECG is replacing post-paid, non-smart prepaid and faulty meters in the region with what it describes as MMS-compliant smart prepaid meters, over the next five months.

The meter replacement exercise is part of the company’s Loss Reduction Programme (LRP); an initiative to facilitate the installation of smart meters and to improve energy accounting. The project aims to also ensure the availability of meters to meet service connection requests and reduce system losses.

Consequently, the ECG assured customers of the convenience that the smart prepaid meters offer, saying for instance that with the smart prepaid meters, a customer can buy credits unto their meters from the comfort of their homes or anywhere they are by downloading the ECG Power App or using the short code *226#”.

The move by the ECG can be described as a positive step in view of the objectives for which the meters were acquired.

This is because the Graphic Business is aware of the significant losses the company makes and their impact on the energy sector.

However, we must state without any equivocation that the new meters have not only become a nightmare for the users but also an albatross on their neck.

For instance, some users have indicated to the paper that, in many instances, they are unable to load their credit onto the meter from their phones because the ECG App does not work optimally or freezes very often when used.

Again, any attempt to buy from a vendor proves futile in many instances just because the same challenges of ‘no network’ associated with the old meters still persist.

People who use the meters for business such as barbers, hairdressers among others are also unable to work for days because they encounter the recurring challenges without any solutions in sight.

Aside from these challenges, the Graphic Business has also picked information to the effect that these new meters seem to run faster and consume more power than the old ones.

Much as we believe that there are increases in the tariffs, we deduce from the complaints that there is something seriously amiss with the new meters which demands urgent attention.

We call on the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) to be on the lookout and conduct mystery shopping exercises to ascertain the veracity of the allegations. It is the duty of the authority to ensure that the meters are well calibrated to match the charges per usage and ensure that customers are not shortchanged under the guise of raising revenue.

We have known from history that the more the payment of tariffs becomes unbearable for the people, the more all manner of means to bypass the meters with the connivance of some ECG staff who themselves are also consumers of electricity.

The Graphic Business believes it is the responsibility of the ECG to ensure that its services are convenient and offer easy accessibility without compromising on standards that will be defeating the very objectives for which such a laudable project was first initiated. 

There are concerns that since these old meters, which are being replaced are functioning well, they must be secured to ensure that they do not find their way back into the system.

At a time when the economy is not friendly, with the cost of living so high and disposable income fast dwindling, it behoves service providers such as the ECG to be sensitive to the plight of the people as they go about their lawful duty of revenue maximisation. 

It must be emphasised here that the objectives of revenue enhancement must be the guiding principles and not harassment of customers, especially those who have been consistent with paying their bills on time.

We believe the ECG must recoup what is due it but we also trust that at a time when there is a lot of ‘localised power outages’, the plight of the people is not worsened through non-functional meters.

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