THE installation of smart meters in households could benefit customers by helping them cut their energy consumption.
This was said at a gathering at Metro Centre in Braamfontein to discuss possible technologies that the City could adopt to sustain its resources in the future.
Under the theme, Resource sustainability, leaders from the City’s waste, water and electricity departments; senior public officials; and entrepreneurs discussed the challenges inherent in sustaining resources.
City Power’s acting managing director, Sicelo Xulu, discussed the benefits of smart metering and how it could help consumers manage their energy use. “Smart metering offers a number of potential benefits to households. Billing customers by time of day will encourage them to adjust their consumption habits.”
A smart meter records consumption of electricity in intervals of an hour or less and communicates that information at least daily back to the utility for monitoring and billing.
“Smart meters enable two-way communication between the meter and the central system. Unlike home energy monitors, smart meters can gather data for remote reporting,” Xulu explained.
The first big roll-out was in Roodepoort where City Power had installed 20 000 smart meters. The installation of the meters now made it easier for people to manage their energy use and reduce their energy bills and carbon emissions, he said.
Devesh Mothilall, the City’s programme manager for energy, agreed that smart meters were an important development that would enable the City to detect power outages and restore power swiftly.
“The two-way communication network will pinpoint outages when and where they occur, thus enabling workers to be efficiently deployed to correct the problem,” said Mothilall.
The technology also allowed energy companies to read meters remotely.
Emmanuel Maepa from Rebuilding Our Nation encouraged the City to make use of waste water to generate electricity. “There is a lot of energy in wastewater,” said Maepa. “If we become clever enough we will find way to recapture it.”
He explained that wastewater contained nine times the energy that typically was captured and used in water treatment plants. He also emphasised the importance of training people in green technology to avoid having to import skills from overseas.
“We need to adopt a robust approach in educating communities about green technology and make sure that it is included in the curriculum of schools,” said Maepa.
A Siemens account manager, Marvin Benjamin, said quite a lot of growth was taking place in cities in the developing world, straining their water and energy resources.
“In light of the global economic crisis, the energy sector is entering a new phase of its growth and we are all facing huge challenges.”
He said Siemens was ready to share its knowledge and experiences with Joburg.
The discussions were part of the City’s nine-week outreach campaign to get the public involved in Johannesburg’s Growth and Development Strategy, which it has called GDS2040.
It looked at liveable cities in the first week and resource sustainability the second week. From 22 to 27 August, the City will focus on health and poverty.
There will be discussions with a wide variety of people on ways to improve the living conditions of people in informal settlements, the state of access to health and social services for migrants, and the relationship between poverty, health and the school systems.
Other GDS2040 themes that will be tackled in the following weeks are: economic growth, community safety, transport, governance, smart cities and environment.
To have your say on resource sustainability and what Joburg should do, and to find out more about upcoming events for each week, you can follow the GDS review process on Facebook or on Twitter, @GDS2040. It also has a website.