Eskom wants to make sure all smart meters are interoperable

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Smart meters have been implemented in many households across the country, but Eskom wants to make sure that all meters work as well as intended with Eskom’s grid.

Many companies in South Africa make smart meters, and since the internal workings of these devices vary quite a bit, Eskom is concerned that some meters operate differently on the grid than others.

“Eskom Research, Testing & Development Department (RT&D) has conducted extensive research to identify suitable interoperability test tools and is in the process of building a smart meter interoperability test platform at its James Watt Metering Laboratory which is housed at Eskom’s Research and Innovation Centre (ERIC) in Rosherville,” Eskom explained.

Eskom said that these tests will allow the company to independently evaluate interoperability between smart meter products from different manufacturers.

Ultimately it will support Eskom’s aim to fast-track the deployment of cost-effective, reliable and future-proof smart metering technology.

“Eskom is currently rolling out its smart prepayment programme in Sandton, Midrand and Soweto as well as in surrounding areas, with a number of customers already benefitting from the roll-out. The thrust towards this technology is the need to curb increasing residential customer debt, improve revenue collection and enable effective demand side management,” it said.

To make sure that all smart meters are interoperable in the future, Eskom has developed the Standard for Adopted Open Protocols for Eskom Advanced Meters (240-85106861), a mandate that communicates protocols in all Eskom smart meter specifications to ensure interoperability between smart meters from different manufacturers.

But even with the Open Protocols, the testing is still necessary.

“To ensure all smart meters provided by the various manufacturers are interoperable it is necessary to perform interoperability testing.,” it said. “The work being done by Eskom’s research team is therefore important in supporting the medium to long term strategy of the company to achieve technical and financial sustainability.”

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