THE Energy Regulation Board (ERB) has announced that an investigation into the alleged unusual and unexplained depletion of electricity units on Zesco Limited’s prepaid metres have found nothing irregular as the devices meet the required specifications.

In a statement, Thursday, ERB public relations manager Kwali Mfuni announced that investigations into the alleged unusual and unexplained depletion of electricity units on Zesco’s prepaid metres had been completed and found nothing irregular.

This follows heightened complaints received by the regulator earlier this year on the alleged fast-depleting units, particularly immediately after power tariffs were adjusted upwards late last year and implemented from January 1, this year.

“Investigations into complaints of alleged and unexplained depletion of electricity units on Zesco’s prepaid metres have been completed and the results show that the metres meet the specifications. The ERB and the Zambia Metrology Agency (ZMA) had collaborated to determine the accuracy of Zesco’s prepaid metres following complaints from different parts of the country about the unusually high consumption of electricity experienced in the period leading to August, 2020,” Mfuni stated.

“Further, a review of both Zesco’s vending system for possible tampering of metres remotely and verification of compliance to ERB approved tariffs for transactions were undertaken. In terms of accuracy of metres, 14 metres were tested out of the 15 complaints received by the ERB and all were found to be within the maximum permissible limits of error as stipulated in the Zambian Standard ZS 643 of 2006: Electricity Metering Equipment (a.c.) – Particular Requirements Static Metering for Active Energy (classes 1 and 2).”

She added that the regulator had equally ruled out the possibility of remote tampering of the domestic prepaid metres following thorough investigation.

“Furthermore, based on the complaints received, the possibility of remote tampering of domestic prepaid metres was investigated. In that regard, our investigations established that it was impractical to remotely tamper with the domestic prepaid metres as there is no remote communication link between electricity metres and the Zesco metering system or its electricity vending points (credit dispensing units),” she added.

“Given the nature of the complaints received, it became necessary to also verify Zesco’s compliance to the ERB approved tariffs. In that connection, our investigations established that electricity transactions on Zesco prepaid metre accounts conformed to the ERB approved tariffs, which came into effect on January 1, 2020.”

She further stated that the regulator would, however, continue to monitor Zesco’s prepaid metering system to ensure compliance to all applicable standards in view of the high number of complaints recorded on the matter.

The ERB and the ZMA had instituted investigations to verify the consumer’s suspicions that the metres were not functioning normally.

Consumers had alleged that there was a possibility of remote tampering of the prepaid metres through unauthorised access as having led to the anomaly.

A total of 15 complaints were received from various parts of the country.