by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG – THERE are concerns South African utilities might leave it too late until about 7 million prepaid electricity meters become obsolete by 2024 when the system that runs credit tokens run out of numbers.
The Standard Transfer Specification Association (STSA) has thus embarked on an awareness programme to inform the utilities to upgrade their vending systems and the need to reset meters before November of that year.
All 7 million existing meters will stop accepting credit tokens and must be upgraded to Standard Technical Specification (STS) 600 . STSA estimates the number of prepayment meters could still grow to approximately eight million by 2024.
Approximately 50 million meters are currently installed globally.
Don Taylor, director of the STSA, the South African metering standards industry body, explained the token identifier (TID) is calculated as the number of minutes that have elapsed since a defined base date of 1993 up to the time of creating the token.
The TID has a limited range and will run out in November 2024, at which point all existing prepayment meters will stop accepting credit tokens, Taylor further explained.
“In order to circumvent this issue, the memory of each meter needs to be cleared of all stored TIDs and its cryptographic key needs to be changed before 2024.”
Utilities or the end customer should clear the memory and change the meter keys before November 2024.
The new range of TIDs will then start from a new base date of 2014 and run out in 2045.
“There is thus a six-year window within which the utilities have to complete this programme,” said Taylor.
He expressed concern utilities might leave this too late, hence the standards body was embarking on an awareness programme. It is reaching out to all STS users and providing a platform to facilitate technical support and guidance to users during the implementation of the TID rollover programme.
STSA aims to establish a website where users can interact on related issues.
In addition, it is embarking on a communication effort with users by making use of media channels and conference events to raise awareness of the 2024 TID rollover.
STSA was created in in 1993 as an industry standard to support the Eskom’s electrification programme to connect 10 million households to the grid.
It is a returning industry partner association and exhibitor at the African Utility Week exhibition and conference scheduled for Cape Town in May.
– CAJ News