8, 000 ESCOM Meters Gather Dust
At least 8, 000 wall mounted electricity meters which government bought two years ago will be rendered useless if not put into use by November 24, 2023 as they will not be compatible to ESCOM’s split energy system or pole mounting metering system which the power utility body adopted two years ago.
The meters are gathering dust at the department of energy when some mini grids like Mulanje Electricity Generation Agency (MEGA) in Mulanje and a Rumphi based Chapopoma Mini Hydro Scheme are in dire need of wall meters.
“We tried these wall mounted meters and they are compatible to our system and we have tried in vain to buy them from government and for your information we have over 2000 new applicants but we are failing to connect them to our grid due to lack of meters,” said MEGA Project Coordinator Arnold Kadziponye.
ESCOM Public Relations Manager Kitty Chingota told Zodiak Online that ESCOM migrated from the wall mounted meters to pole mounted meters in order to protect its revenue as unscrupulous customers were by passing the wall meters.
“The 8000 meters you are talking about would not make economic sense to install them in the system because that would defeat the whole purpose of ESCOM'S revenue protection strategy,” said Chingota.
Chingota who says ESCOM was also having problems in accessing some premises to check the meters said the process of replacing wall meters with pole mounting meters is an ongoing and all the wall meters will be replaced.
Spokesperson for the Ministry of Energy Upile Kamoto Lali said government bought 10,000 wall mounted meters under Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (MAREP) before ESCOM switched to split energy meters and currently close to 8,000 meters remain in stock.
“Currently, the department is working on modalities on how to dispose of the meters according to public assets disposal law,” said Lali.
He said interested mini-grid companies will participate in the open bidding.