Smart prepaid meters: Tonga prepares for 2016 rollout

Tonga island smart prepaid meters
Tonga Power Limited and Itron will begin deploying smart prepaid meters on Tonga’s main island from early next year in a bid to reduce a high disconnection rate

In Polynesia, the Kingdom of Tonga has confirmed it will begin deploying smart prepaid meters from early next year.

State energy provider Tonga Power Limited (TPL) told local media last week that the utility will work with Itron to roll out smart meters to more than 15,000 customers on the main island Tongatapu from Q1 2016.

The first stage of the project entails the deployment of 3,000 smart prepaid meters to lower-income households.

The next five years will see the further deployment of more than 20,000 meters throughout the Kingdom of Tonga, said Robert Matthews, CEO of TPL.

Mr Matthews said: “The rollout of smart meters across the TPL network is a significant step in offering our customers a pre-payment option.

“The meters can be remotely interrogated by TPL head office to provide important customer usage and billing information including quality of supply and performance of our electricity network.”

Matthews said the utility hopes the technology will also reduce the “relatively high number of disconnections each month” and improve TPL’s customer service.

Smart prepaid meters – platform

In August 2015, the Tongan utility announced it had recruited Itron to deliver its communication platform OpenWay Riva.

TPL bought the Itron technology in a bid to bolster network communications across the island, improve revenue protection and help manage customer disconnects and reconnects remotely.

Managing the integration of renewable energy into the grid is also a priority as the kingdom expects to soon generate more than half its electricity from renewable sources.

The OpenWay Riva solution comprises smart prepaid meters, Cisco Connected Grid Routers as well as back-office data collection software, including Itron’s meter data management, collection engine and reporting software and Cisco’s IoT Field Network Director.

TPL’s Project Manager, Lualala Tapueluelu, said “The technology has been under development throughout the last decade with Tonga Power Ltd deploying its latest release. This system will enable Tonga Power to monitor conditions and performance of the electricity network at each customer’s network connection”.

Itron held a one-week workshop at TPL’s head office earlier this month to brief TPL on the life cycle of the project, reports news website Matangi.