By Joselyn Biira Mwine
The power sector in Uganda has made rapid strides during the last decade in the field of generation, transmission, distribution and utilization of electric energy. The energy meter is the only instrument which measures and registers actual energy consumed.
Electricity meters form part of a wide range of trade type instruments which are a basis for transactions (buying and selling) and are subjected to legal metrological control. In order to achieve and guarantee fairness of trade, such equipment is subjected to a procedure of verification and re-verification to ensure sustained accuracy.
As per electricity regulation, it is mandatory to test all meters in service periodically. Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) derives this mandate from the statutory instruments 2015 No. 69. The weights and measures (Electricity Meter) rules 2015.
In this basic operation, the meter is verified especially to control unfair billing or cheating in the electricity transactions.
UNBS started in house verification of energy meters in 2015 and has since extended the service to field verification in 2019.
Currently both new meters (before installation) and in-service meters are all verified by Uganda National Bureau of Standards. For all the new meters, the coverage is 100% implying that each new verified meter is stamped with a UNBS sticker.
During the exercise, sensitization is done on-site when inspectors come to verify the meter. They explain to the consumer what they are going to do and why they are doing it. This presents an opportunity for consumers to understand how verification is done.
Since the verification commenced in 2015, there has been a significant improvement in compliance. Importers often bring prototypes to UNBS for approval before importing which means that chances are high that a pre-tested prototype will pass verification in the field.
UNBS can test an energy meter on request through UMEME; under the Statutory instruments 2015 No. 69, a consumer has the right to choose where verification of their meter can be done. Therefore, a consumer can insist that verification be done by UNBS at their cost. The process of verification of in-service meters can also be requested for by a client and is done on site. The service is charged Ugx 25,000 for field verification and does not include logistical fees, otherwise it is Ugx. 8,000 for in-house verification.
Finally, it is now a requirement for every meter to be stamped or to have a verification seal from UNBS. Customers getting new meters should be vigilant to ensure that their meters have been verified. For customers who suspect that their meters are faulty or unfairly charging, they can call the toll free line on 0800133133 to request for verification.
The writer is a Public Relations Officer at Uganda National Bureau of Standards