Smart Gas Prepayment Solution
Powercom’s smart gas meter prepayment system is an excellent platform for utilities who wish to implement a pre-payment solution based on a “Smart Grid” platform.
Powercom has engineered a smart gas pre-payment system enabling the operator to remotely control essential elements such as the ability to: (i) remotely credit a meter; (ii) remotely switch between credit and pre-payment; (iii) send immediate online tariff changes; (iv) provide emergency credit; (v) trickle flow when credit runs out; (vi) user friendly pre-notification of disconnections; and (vii) remote disconnection.
The smart gas meter battery pack is situated in a consumer accessible front compartment. When the batteries run low, the smart gas meter initiates an automated SMS or Email notifying the consumer to replace the batteries. Failure to replace the batteries will result in automatic disconnection.
Powercom vending solution options include scratch card, and e-wallet. By using advanced communications technologies it is also possible to credit a meter remotely from the point of transaction. This eliminates the need for vending machine to purchase credit. In several Pre-Payment deployments where reliable GPRS communication exists, Powercom has installed the pre-Payment system without the need for the keypad and relied solely upon the communications to credit the meter.
Powercom’s reliable two-way communication verifies that the credit was successfully loaded and accepted into the meter, and sends an automatic (optional) SMS or Email to the customer advising that the transaction process has been completed.
Powercom point of sale direct access is an optional functionality of the system which features basic customer invoicing and payment reconciliations reports. This vending transaction solution avoids the cost to the utility of the extra payment for the vending payments process.
Friendly “over-draft” credit is an option to provide a small amount of emergency credit, so that customers can avoid loss of service in the middle of the night. The average amount can be immediately subtracted from the next payment. Another option in the case that the customer did not pay on-time is to allow the customer to consume small amounts of gas before full disconnection. Other options are: customised rates to different classes of customers; and suspension of automatic disconnections on weekends/holidays, during adverse weather conditions, and accounts flagged as “critical need/lifeline” so that disconnection does not endanger health and safety.
The Powercom prepayment solution is the most secure in the world as it uses two elements. As well as using the STS code generator for producing the pre-paid token numbers, the Powercom system benefits by having hourly consumption readings from the meters as well as the balance of credit stored in the prepayment meter. With every increase in the credit balance within the system, the system automatically verifies with the billing and vending system whether that increase is backed up by a legal transaction. The system logs all activity with the meter so that it is able to maintain records of the individual who loaded the credit, whether it was performed automatically or manually, the time of the transaction and the amount. All this information is stored in the database and is available for mangers to verify.
The system sends a reminder to customer when their credit is low. As the account balance approaches zero, the billing system initiates a message to the customer and sends it via an outgoing text message, or email. The Powercom customer portal website enables each customer to enter their unique username and password to access their consumption history in graphs according to user selected intervals.