The Free State government director-general, Kopung Ralikontsane, envisages that municipalities in the province will be able to curb escalating debt to power supplier Eskom by installing prepaid meters. Last week the provincial government rescued seven defaulting municipalities owing the power utility millions. The provincial government threw life lines at the cash-strapped municipalities after Eskom threatened power interruptions and supply cut-offs to 22 defaulting municipalities in the country. The seven affected municipalities in the Free State are Tokologo, Nketoana, Nala, Mantsopa, Masilonyana, Dihlabeng and Moqhaka.The installation of prepaid meters is a product of a closed-door meeting between Eskom and the Free State government. It was led by Eskom’s interim group chief executive, Matshela Koko.It is an effort to find sustainable solutions regarding payment plans to resolve outstanding arrears debt on Eskom accounts.“We agreed to suspend electricity supply interruptions to the seven defaulting municipalities in the Free State following their payments in line with the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (Paja) process. “Their January current account will be paid by mid-February 2017,” Koko said. The two parties also agreed that while the outstanding debt cannot be written off, certain elements need urgent review. “We also agreed on the installation of the prepaid meters as being the lasting revenue management solution which can help us avoid the current debt escalation. We should be able to start implementation by July 2017 at the latest in a number of municipalities,” said Ralikontsane. “We encourage municipalities to sustain current account payments to Eskom,” he said.The meeting further agreed on the dates of March and May 2017 to conclude the administrative processes needed to allow Eskom to complete the revenue management function in the identified municipalities, to make way for implementation to start after March and July 2017, said Ralikontsane.