Not everyone wants a billing relationship with utilities, especially if you are not sure how much money you will have left at the end of the month. That is where ‘pay-as-you-go’ smart metering can help.
The IEC has revised a key International Standard to enhance the security and functionality of metering prepayment systems. The open Standard Transfer Specification (STS), IEC 62055-41, will benefit customers of electricity, water and gas utilities, particularly in developing countries.
‘Pay-as-you-go’ systems benefit users by encouraging them to manage their consumption more efficiently. The technology enables users to track and even reduce their costs, for example, by increasing consumption during cheaper, off-peak tariff periods.
It is based on a 20-digit token system that enables consumers to buy in advance and to manage their consumption more efficiently. Offline token-based credit transfer methods are particularly suitable for environments where the online communication infrastructure is poorly supported.
“Most people living in developing countries find it very difficult to predict how much money they will have left at the end of the month,” says Don Taylor, the convenor of the IEC working group that developed the Standard, as well as the director of the STS association. “Wages are often paid weekly and a monthly electricity bill, similar to what exists in Europe or the USA, would be totally impractical.”
The revised Standard enhances security through a robust and proven encryption technology. “We wanted to improve drastically the encryption algorithms and make them state-of-the-art secure. The idea is for the encryption level to be valid for the next 30 years,” explains Mr. Taylor.
IEC 62055-41 is the only globally recognized International Standard for electricity metering prepayment systems. It facilitates more efficient grid management by giving utilities access to detailed consumption data, as well as ensuring interoperability between system components from different manufacturers.
The STS is developed by IEC Technical Committee 13: Electrical energy measurement and control. The technologies developed by TC13 help governments to liberalize energy markets and play an important role in the fight on climate change by allowing both utilities and users to track carbon emissions.
The STS was originally created in South Africa in 1993 as an industry Standard to support the public utility’s electrification programme to connect 10 million households to the supply grid by making use of prepayment metering technology.