City Power prepaid rates for 3 phase residential connection + smart meter

Saajid

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I recently moved into a new place with a prepaid meter, and the electricity recharges are ridiculously high compared to what I was paying at my old place.

The old place had single phase electricity and one of the old prepaid meters (i.e. not smart). My prepaid recharges in September/October were as follows:

Step 1: 105.75 c/kWh
Step 2: 120.14 c/kWh
Step 3: 129.01 c/kWh

The new place has 3 phase electricity and a smart meter. The prepaid recharges are much higher, and came as a complete shock to me:

Step 1: 154.15 c/kWh
Step 2: 169.19 c/kWh

It's burning a hole in my pocket now, and in winter I don't know what I am going to do. So far I haven't reached step 3. Dreading to see what those rates are like.

Now do the above rates seem normal? Am I paying a higher rate because (1) the connection is 3 phase and (2) I have a smart meter installed? Is there anything I can do about this?

I've already tried phoning Joburg City Power, but they said I need to contact the prepaid meter department - they gave me 2 numbers to try. Both numbers just ring non-stop the few times I tried. I'll keep trying, but until then, any advice or information will be appreciated.
 
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maumau

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My blood runs cold at the thought of trying to sort this out.

Please keep us posted.
 

Gnome

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Some prepaid meters go via third party sellers that add on top of the regular charge.

Additionally, based on historical usage over the past 12 months you pay according to a rate schedule. The higher your usage over the past 12 months the more you pay per kwh.

Single phase VS 3 phase doesn't have any bearing here. (or shouldn't since historically homes had 3 phase)
 

Saajid

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Some prepaid meters go via third party sellers that add on top of the regular charge.

Additionally, based on historical usage over the past 12 months you pay according to a rate schedule. The higher your usage over the past 12 months the more you pay per kwh.

Single phase VS 3 phase doesn't have any bearing here. (or shouldn't since historically homes had 3 phase)

Thanks for the reply. Do you know where I can see this rate schedule? The house was sitting empty for about 3 months, so usage was very little. Just enough to run the alarm system, 2 empty fridges and 1 empty freezer. It should have brought the average down quite a bit, at least by a 20-25% (3 out of 12 months = 25%).
 

Gnome

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Thanks for the reply. Do you know where I can see this rate schedule? The house was sitting empty for about 3 months, so usage was very little. Just enough to run the alarm system, 2 empty fridges and 1 empty freezer. It should have brought the average down quite a bit, at least by a 20-25% (3 out of 12 months = 25%).

It would depend on who supplies your electricity.

Also old fridges and freezers are notorious for consuming vast amounts of power.
 

Gnome

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Because it uses more power?


That would be the logical explanation.

Houses supplied with 3 phase don't have 3 phase plugs 99% of the time...

You won't even know you have 3 phase until you see the 3 pole main breaker
 

HavocXphere

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The rates seem fine. You might be paying a premium for 3 phase though.


Houses supplied with 3 phase don't have 3 phase plugs 99% of the time...
Why would they? Unless you're running an industrial plant in your back yard...
 

maumau

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Why did you keep the empty fridges and freezer plugged in for three months?

Would have switched them off.
 

richjdavies

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Simply put, you aint on 'City Power's Residential Tariff', instead it looks like someone is charging you 'business rates':

The tariffs are here:
http://www.joburg.org.za/images/stories/2015/May/2015-16 tariffs for approval.pdf
business rates notes.JPG
Brace yourself for winter -- as the rate goes up as well as your usage! (see pic above)

So whoever is charging you to top-up is charging you a business rate - but they aren't charging you the service charge (that's nice of them!). They have to tell you what tariff you are on when you top-up otherwise they are breaking the law.

* The other advice you've been given about 'usage' etc. only applies to those people on subsidised / indigent tariffs -- i.e. you only stay on such a tariff if your usage stays below a certain level. I don't think that applies here. Also - for Joburg's city power - on prepaid the charges are EXACTLY the same if you are 3 phase or single phase -- so again, somewhat of a red-herring.*

PS - for anyone not sure what's going on with their tariff, just google your municipality tariff and look it up - it's all there, it's all public...
 

Saajid

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Houses supplied with 3 phase don't have 3 phase plugs 99% of the time...

You won't even know you have 3 phase until you see the 3 pole main breaker

Yip. I don't have 3 phase plugs. Just regular ones. But on the main DB Board of the house, there are 3 sections of breakers. Each one is running on its own phase, or so I have been told.

Why would they? Unless you're running an industrial plant in your back yard...

This makes sense. No need for 3 phase electricity to individual outlets. I've got no devices that use 3 phase electricity. There however is a huge aircon unit in the ceiling, with a huge compressor/condenser/whatever unit outside, with vents running into every room. Could this be using 3-phase electricity directly?

Why did you keep the empty fridges and freezer plugged in for three months?

Would have switched them off.

Wasn't me that left it on. That was before I moved in. I didn't pay for any of that usage though.
 

Saajid

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Simply put, you aint on 'City Power's Residential Tariff', instead it looks like someone is charging you 'business rates':

The tariffs are here:
http://www.joburg.org.za/images/stories/2015/May/2015-16 tariffs for approval.pdf
View attachment 321793
Brace yourself for winter -- as the rate goes up as well as your usage! (see pic above)

So whoever is charging you to top-up is charging you a business rate - but they aren't charging you the service charge (that's nice of them!). They have to tell you what tariff you are on when you top-up otherwise they are breaking the law.

* The other advice you've been given about 'usage' etc. only applies to those people on subsidised / indigent tariffs -- i.e. you only stay on such a tariff if your usage stays below a certain level. I don't think that applies here. Also - for Joburg's city power - on prepaid the charges are EXACTLY the same if you are 3 phase or single phase -- so again, somewhat of a red-herring.*

PS - for anyone not sure what's going on with their tariff, just google your municipality tariff and look it up - it's all there, it's all public...

Thanks dude. This helps tremendously! First bit of useful info I've managed to find. My Googling skills have failed me.

The recharges were through FNB Internet Banking, using the Android app - how I've always recharged. I think I'll probably be charged the same rates no matter who I recharge with. The issue is that property is listed for business rates, instead of residential. This is gonna be a biaaatch to sort out!
 

richjdavies

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Glad to have helped.

What's strange is that rate your paying IS NOT the Prepaid rate -- it's the 'account' rate.

The prepaid rate is actually about 4c/kWh more! -- see just below the tariff I highlighted before.
prepaid business city.JPG

Maybe they did some kind of promotion to move 'smart' meter people onto prepaid?

(http://www.joburg.org.za/images/stories/2015/May/2015-16 tariffs for approval.pdf)

There's a mention of Section 6 when changing tariff, but there is no clear section 6 in that document..

PS - I've found I can eventually get answers from City Power (and we're not even customers). You will get passed around, but it's about relentlessly pursuing people and on each email/phone call telling them who you've already spoken to and that they were told that THEY are the people to help.
On one email chain - just looking at the cost of changing to prepaid - I think I was passed to 8 different people... each time it was like a hospital pass to the next person!
 
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