How many times have we heard it? Pay-As-You-Go utility metering solutions are not viable in North America. We’ve read the articles, heard the discussions and seen the reviews on why prepay hasn’t taken off as in other countries. We’ve heard that the American culture isn’t ready; some say there isn’t enough competition, and others blame the public utility commissions. All are real issues for a utility programme, and they’re holding back wide proliferation of the Pay-As-You-Go solution.
And yet the Pay-As-You-Go payment option consistently receives consumer satisfaction ratings of over 90% among members of programmes that have been introduced in North America. Consider the Woodstock Hydro Services example. This Canadian company, located in South Western Ontario, has had a Pay-As-You-Go metering system in place since 1989. The initial intent of the programme was to address high maintenance customers, but the offering attracted a much wider customer base. To date approximately 26% of the consumers in the City of Woodstock use the Pay-As-You-Go service. The prepaid customers like the convenience of being able to purchase energy on their terms, and have averaged a 20% reduction in consumption. The obvious conclusion – if customers are given the tools with which to monitor their usage, they will.
Onlookers throughout North America are taking note. According to a recent Chartwell report on AMR, 38% of the US IOUs interviewed stated that they were considering prepay programmes. So what’s holding back prepay in North America? It probably has to do with high meter cost points, complicated systems with over lapping CIS and vending software programmes, and regulatory bodies which have precluded wide expansion of prepay metering. And it may take an international meter company to put the go in the North American Pay-As-You-Go Market.
A leading international metering company has chosen to address these issues and to enter the North America prepayment market. AMPY Automation Digilog Limited, a prepayment meter manufacturer based out of the United Kingdom which has been supplying the international market for years, has announced two exclusive North American partners. The US-based company Widefield will be responsible for the Western and Southern US States, and the Canadian-based Info Energy Inc. will be responsible for Canada and the North Eastern USA.
AMPY’s entry into the North American market is significant because:
- AMPY offers converging technology across the utility value chain.
- AMPY has designed a system that does not duplicate the complex CIS or vending programmes, but merely works to interface these systems for maximum efficiency.
- AMPY, a successful meter manufacturer, will drive the cost of production down to provide its customers with a cost effective solution.
- AMPY works with a network of distribution partners who provide value added services, allowing them to focus on their core competency of delivering high quality, standard driven, low cost smart metering technology.