Prepayment successful in Alaskan village


AlaskaSt. George, Alaska — (METERING.COM) — November 13, 2006 – Revenue collection is a problem in many parts of Alaska, and the situation is worsening – but the introduction of prepayment meters in a small village has helped both the utility and the environment.

Residents in St. George are using their prepayment meters to monitor the cost of running various electric appliances, and are saving money by turning off those devices that aren’t being used, or restricting their use. Village power consumption has decreased by 15 per cent since the meters were installed earlier this year.

And in an area where 50% of residents weren’t up to date with their electric bills before the prepayment meters were installed, the increased revenues have benefited the energy supplier too.

The new meters operate on the smartcard principle, with a card reader and a digital consumer interface unit mounted in a convenient spot in the home. Villagers purchase credit at the City Hall and when they get back home they swipe their cards through the card reader. The customer interface unit allows them to see how much each device costs to run, and what the effect of switching off certain devices is.

The card reader warns customers when credit is low; when all the power has been used the electricity shuts off, except on weekends of holidays, when the City Hall is closed and customers aren’t able to recharge their smart cards.
Prepayment works extremely well in small, closely-knit communities where it is difficult for utility workers to disconnect relatives or friends. With collections becoming a real problem in Alaska – in some areas unpaid bills have doubled in the last year alone – the introduction of a prepayment metering system is seen as a positive solution to a growing problem.