At the beginning of March NERSA announced that they had approved an increase of 9.4% on Eskom’s sale of electricity for the period 1st April 2016 – 31st March 2017. This 9.4% is an average across all Eskom sales to its direct customers with Municipalities only paying an additional 7.857% for bulk electricity bought from Eskom. Further to this, NERSA then granted the municipalities an increase of 7.64% in their sale of electricity to customers. This comes into effect from the1st July 2016 until 30th June 2017. The lower increase to municipalities has been sparked by; amongst other criteria, the inefficient billing and collection process. Previously municipalities have been able to get away with poor billing and collection due to their larger annual increases when compared to Eskom’s bulk increase. It is unlikely municipality billing will improve in the short term and customers are often over or under billed. Whilst one may think it is to your benefit to be under billed, it is actually a major concern for customers as the municipalities are allowed to backdate their billing by 36 months if they detect a customer’s bill is incorrect.

This is where intelligent energy monitoring and management software once again proves its value. It is for this reason our engineers will regularly ask you for a copy of your latest council or Eskom bill with which they can perform a comparison against the installed metering solution (if it exists) and confirm the accuracy of the bills and advise should there be a large discrepancy. In addition to this, automated tariff calculation is becoming increasingly important. South Africa has possibly the most complex and varied electricity tariff structure in the world and changes frequently. Intelligent software should be able to determine which tariffs are applicable to you, based on the analysis of historical electricity data; and what alternative tariffs might be available too.

Along with understanding electricity consumption, increasing costs and varying tariff options; determining energy waste at an operational level is the next step in managing your electricity costs. Intelligent energy monitoring software also needs to identifying and quantifying energy wastage at your facility based on the operating hours and the expected energy baseline at different times of the day. Certain equipment has clear operating hours. For instance, lights in an office park or retail store should only be on during business hours and wastage occurs during unnecessary operation. If the lights are left on overnight, your system should be setup to use your operating hours to measure wasted energy and then give you a summary of the cost. This will provide an indication of the extent of the wastage and cost effective solutions to reduce waste.  Additional tools such as SMS alerts should also be available to set up to notifications if unexpected electricity consumption occurs. These alert can be sent to you based on predetermined parameters, such as a high nighttime base load, when the power factor drops significantly or when the maximum demand of the site is met.

Whilst electricity prices continue to increase, we strive to ensure that you are always getting the highest possible value through reducing risks and enhancing opportunities that will assist your company.

Terra Firma Solutions has developed its own Energy Monitoring and Management Software, COPPER, which meets all of the requirements listed above. If you would like to find out more about how we help our clients manage the ever increasing cost of their electricity, don’t hesitate to email us directly, or call us on 021 300 1620 or 011 568 0768.