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Home » Industry News » Power & Energy Efficiency » Free-to-use electricity smart meter software pilots in South Africa

Free-to-use electricity smart meter software pilots in South Africa

Streamlining processes across the board between municipalities and end-users, Access

Energy is a freely licensed software solution that reads smart meters, stores the meter data in a meter data sharing system, and delivers that data to municipalities. The software then allows the municipality to create and load their electricity tariffs and then apply them to a bill.

It’s been hailed as a game-changer for municipalities wanting to integrate renewable energy resources into their grid.

George Municipality is the first electricity provider in the country to pilot this freely licensed software that automates the reading, processing, and billing of electricity smart meter data.

“The need for this freely licensed software pilot became evident when we considered the scaling of wheeling and renewable energy on the George Municipality’s electricity grid.” says

Mr Bongani Mandla, the director of electrotechnical services at George Municipality. “The manual billing process was one the main challenges, and resolving this meant reducing reliance and pressure on key human resources, reducing potential errors that could occur in the billing process. Engagement with Open Access Energy on showcasing their software that they license for free, has assisted in addressing the challenge for us and we are now piloting the automation of our metering and billing services,” continued Mandla Wheeling is the delivery of electricity generated by a private operator in one location to a buyer or off-taker in another location via a third-party network (Utility or Municipality).

Mr Bongani Mandla highlighted that the current George Municipality wheeling pilot consists of trade between one generator and four off-takers through Enpower Trading (a NERSA licensed Energy Trader) and this entire process has now been automated using Open Access Energy’s software. The Municipality is working on further improvements to its wheeling projects and to incentivise the private sector (both generators and off-takers) to participate in this program.

These include creating a platform for customers to view their accounts and access their consumption and billing data in real-time, forming various committees to expedite the process of standardising the use-of-system contracts as well as moving from the 30-minute reconciliation to a Time-of-Use reconciliation.

James Beatty, Chief-Executive-Officer of Enpower Trading (NERSA licensed energy trader), said they obtained a use-of-system agreement at George Municipality and looked at ways to automate the wheeling pilot.

According to Gerjo Hoffman, Chief-Executive-Officer and co-founder of Open Access Energy, the developers of Access Energy, the software company aims to boost the use of renewable energy by simplifying wheeling.

“Our products aim to automate wheeling and serve the needs of anyone that wants to wheel energy. Our initial focus is South Africa, but our future aspiration is to offer solutions in all emerging markets globally,” says Hoffman.

Open Access Energy currently has two products in the market. Access Energy is a freely licensed software solution that reads smart meters, stores the meter data in a meter data sharing system, and exposes that data to municipalities. The software allows the Municipality to create and load their electricity tariffs and then apply them to a bill. The final bill is sent to the municipalities Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, which then sends the bill to the end customer. Customers, however, do not have to wait until the end of the month to view their accounts and can access and view their consumption and billing data in real time. The sharing of this meter data to the customer by Access Energy is made possible through its implementation of the Eskom sanctioned NRS049 5-2 protocol.

“When we started looking at how we can enable the wheeling market, we realised that many  municipalities and metros don’t have access to sufficient software to allow these transactions.

Municipalities have to go through tedious tender and procurement processes, so we decided to license our software for free to local municipalities and state-owned entities.” Continues Hoffman.

Open Access Energy's second product is called EnergyPro. This Software as a Service (SaaS) solution focuses on IPPs and Energy traders and assists wheelers to wheel to multiple customers.

“Our clients are renewable energy producers and energy traders who want to sell their energy to customers all over South Africa”, concludes Hoffman.

Hoffman says they will be approaching more municipalities and hope to assist local municipalities by enabling them to offer renewable energy to their customers and alleviate the challenge of load shedding in South Africa.

To find out more about how Open Access Energy is helping enable wheeling in South Africa, visit us at https://www.openaccess.energy/ or email us at pr@openaccess.energy

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