Woodstock has been identified as one of the several communities to benefit from the roll out of electricity meter replacements conducted by the City of Cape Town. The replacement project sees residents switching to prepaid meters.“The City is offering this programme free of charge. It holds many benefits to residents and also the municipality as it is vital to invest in the maintenance and replacement of old infrastructure for a city to thrive and become more resilient. Many credit meters are in excess of 30 years old and are required to be replaced to avoid inaccurate reading,” says Cape Town mayor Dan Plato. “A prepaid meter puts the power in the hands of the customer as it enables them to have more direct control over their usage and household budgeting is made easier as the meters include an in-home display that shows consumption clearly. It helps to eliminate the chances of month-end electricity account shocks. The chance of electricity supply being cut off due to non-payment is also eliminated when a prepaid meter is installed. The risk of meter failure is furthermore reduced.”The order in which areas benefit is determined based on the number of electricity meters in need of replacement. Other areas also benefiting from the initiative is the City Centre, Fresnaye, Three Anchor Bay, Schotsche Kloof, Hout Bay, Mowbray, Pinelands and Edgemead, among others.“One of the greatest advantages of switching to a prepaid meter is that it enables qualifying customers to move to the subsidised Lifeline tariff. This would make it possible for them to access financial aid and free units and help to keep monthly household utility costs down,” says Mayco member for energy and climate change, Phindile Maxiti.“It is important to emphasise that, contrary to the urban myth, electricity is not more expensive via a prepaid meter. It actually enables customers to limit or reduce their usage directly and manage their household expenditure. We encourage customers to join others in making the switch and reaping the potential rewards.”The new prepaid meter is located outside on the street, with an in-house display provided inside the customer’s property. Locating the meter outside the premises allows the City to more easily access the meter.Residents have, however, been warned to be weary of a scam that sees a group posing as municipal workers to gain entry to homes. The City says men pose as City electricity officials and they carry some form of identification. The modus operandi include them visiting residents at their homes and insisting they open the front door so that electricity infrastructure, including the meter, can be checked. While one scammer talks to the resident, the other steals small, personal items. It appears that elderly residents are especially being targeted, says Mayco member for energy and climate change, Phindile Maxiti.“The City does not have members of staff going door-to-door to check on infrastructure without an appointment. “The City does check on electricity meters, but must make an appointment with the resident,” says Maxiti.“All municipal workers and contractors must carry a work order number specific to that dwelling and a City-issued identification card. “Residents should ask to check the official identification card before allowing anyone onto their property.”The scam was brought to the City’s attention by a Helderberg resident last week, but reports indicate a similar scam took place in Parow earlier this year.“These scammers tend to operate where there are many elderly residents. “Once the City alerts the public, they tend to move to another area,” says Maxiti.“The City encourages residents to be vigilant and to check all workers’ official identification card before allowing anyone onto their property. “Any suspicious behaviour must be reported to the City’s law enforcement agencies, the City’s fraud hotline or to the South African Police Service,” he says.Residents are urged to check work orders and identification.“The identification card must display the City logo, the name and surname of the staff member or mandated contractor, and must contain an embedded photo of the staff member or mandated contractor,” says Maxiti.“Residents are not to allow anyone onto their premises until they have verified these details. “Our residents should always be vigilant in these cases.”Once in an area, a contractor appointed by the City will do a mail-drop at each targeted customer’s address, requesting that they make contact to set up an appointment at a time that is convenient to them. Once the appointment has been made, a reference number will be generated. If residents have not received a mail-drop or are in any doubt as to whether this is a legitimate City project, they can contact the City’s call centre on 0860 103 089.V Visit www.capetown.gov.za/electricitymeters for a detailed replacement schedule.