IEC updates global standard for prepaid meters


The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has revised a key international standard to enhance the security and functionality of prepaid meters and related systems.

The revised open Standard Transfer Specification (STS), IEC 62055-41, will benefit customers of electricity, water and gas utilities, particularly in developing countries, according to a statement.

The IEC 62055-41 is a globally recognised international standard for electricity metering payment systems.  It facilitates more efficient grid management by giving utilities access to enhanced consumption data, as well as ensuring interoperability between system components from different manufacturers.

The standard was originally developed by the IEC Technical Committee13 in South Africa in 1993. The aim was to support the public utility’s electrification programme to connect 10 million households to the supply grid by making use of prepayment metering technology.

However, the focus shifted to helping governments and utilities across the globe to liberalise energy markets and fight climate change by tracking carbon emissions.

The ‘pay-as-you-go’ solution is based on a 20-digit token system that enables consumers to buy in advance and to manage their consumption more efficiently. Offline token-based credit transfer methods are particularly suitable for environments where the online communication infrastructure is poorly supported.

Don Taylor, director os the STS Association, said: “We wanted to improve drastically the encryption algorithms and make them state-of-the-art secure. The idea is for the encryption level to be valid for the next 30 years.

“Most people living in developing countries find it very difficult to predict how much money they will have left at the end of the month.

“Wages are often paid weekly and a monthly electricity bill, similar to what exists in Europe or the USA, would be totally impractical.”