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Harmony Case study
 
Mine Housing Saves Electricity and Water with Advanced Prepayment Metering Solutions
 
Background
 
Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) has set a 15% energy demand reduction target for the mining sector in South Africa, to be met by 2015. South Africa’s large mining industry consumes approximately 6% of South African entire energy consumption. While the Industrial and Mining Sectors together consume two thirds of electricity usage.
 
This percentage includes consumption of utilities for housing of staff accommodation. Mines have large housing complexes for mine workers located on non-proclaimed land, serviced and maintained by the mine. The housing complexes are provided by the mine with utilities such as water and electricity.
 
This means that such housing complexes do not fall under municipal metering but are under the responsibility of the mine and therefore fall under sub-metering. For this reason the mines not only provide utilities but also have to meter them and pay the Eskom bill at the end of every month. Each month the mine receives a utility bill in bulk from local council or utility company. In turn, the mine has to deal with any utility consumption, management and cost saving programs they wish or need to implement.
 
  • Many large housing complexes and living residences of employees in mining and other large organizations fall under sub-metering.
  • People who get electricity and water for free are not mindful of consumption.
 
The Problem
 
Traditionally, when utilities were cheap, large organizations such as mines would often supply utilities at minimal to no cost to the workers situated under their sub-metering environment. Over the years this tradition has created a mentality of consumption without control. At a time when utilities were cheap or free, everyone could use as much as they wished, even if a high monthly consumption was not justified.
 
This situation created a lack of mindfulness such as leaving electricity and air-conditioning on 24/7, forgetting to switch off night-lights during the day, burning light bulbs 24 hours 7 days a week, never checking or fixing leaking taps, never checking for leaking pipes or changing a leaking washer when necessary. In the past that may have been acceptable. However, in today’s environment this is no longer sustainable.
 
Over many years, prices of electricity have doubled and quadrupled. Faced with the continuous increases in utility pricing, the subsidization of utilities to staff accommodation has become a heavy financial burden totalling up in millions every month.
 
Global warming, utility price increases, excessive waste of utilities, penalties from utility companies and much more have brought large organizations such as mines to change their strategy when it comes to the consumption of utilities, instating various programs aimed at demand reduction and cost savings.
 
  • Electricity and water price increases no longer afford large organization to provide free utilities for employees accommodation.
 
 
Harmony Kusasalethu Leading the Way
 
Electricity and water price increases no longer afford large organization to provide free utilities for employees accommodation.
 
Harmony Mines is showing the way forward with innovative thinking. PrepaidMeters.co.za was approached in 2010 by Harmony Mines to inquire about installation of prepaid water and electricity meters at the Harmony Kusasalethu mine.
 
The requirements of Harmony Mines were to create a managed environment of utilities spent in the housing sector, which was comprised of 480 houses on non-proclaimed land managed by Harmony.
 
Harmony’s requirements were to save water and electricity, enable residents to manage their consumption, and provide the residents with affordable pricing for utilities while providing the most convenient way to purchase utilities.
 
In a normal prepayment environment that would be relatively easy task to achieve. However, with unique requirements of a mine such as special tariffs, remote locations and lack of access to suburban retailers where top-up vouchers can be bought at any time of day; this initiative presented a challenge and required a unique solution tailored to the needs of a mining community.
 
Harmony Mines approached this challenge by researching in depth all the possibilities available throughout the metering industry. Once decided on various possibilities that provided the mine with the outcomes envisaged, Harmony went out on tender for prepaid electricity and water meters.
 
  • Todays’ conservation vision necessitates employees residing in accommodation of large organizations such as mines to be mindful of consumption; reduce water wastage and contribute in the efforts to conserve energy and carbon footprint.
 
PrepaidMeters.co.za Answer to Harmony’s Requirements
 
PrepaidMeters.co.za was awarded the tender for the installation and supply of services for 480 electricity and water meters for Harmony Kusasalethu mine. PrepaidMeter.co.za provided Harmony Mines with the solution that met the Harmony requirements and which supported their vision for sustainability.
 
  • Large organizations such as mines can save millions each month in management of utilities in the housing sector alone; while giving residents the opportunity to save and manage their budgets.
 
Technological Solution
 
In October 2011 PrepaidMeters.co.za installed at 960 STS prepaid water meters and AMI smart electricity meters. The AMI meters also support STS prepayment and are currently used as normal prepayment meters while in progress to be switched to provide AMI functionality which will also enable the option for post payment billing and detailed usage reports and alerts on each and every meter. The meters and software solution also provides various ways to detect tampering and bypass of the meter.
 
To satisfy the purchasing requirement of utilities by residents, a reporting and data export solution was also provided to import raw data in the correct format for the SAP HR module. This enables the deduction of utility purchases directly from payroll. The remaining item on the requirement list was the ability to purchase utilities in the most convenient manner.This was solved by training staff in the housing department to issue vouchers directly from the utility management system, while at late hours when housing department was closed, PrepaidMeters.co.za call centre is tasked to issue vouchers to any mine worker calling in using payroll as the payment method.
 
As the call centre at PrepaidMeters.co.za is open 7 days a week, this provides a convenient way to re-charge meters 7 days a week, even when housing department is closed or employees are on leave, with a simple phone call and without leaving the mine grounds. The additional value of this solution is the ability of workers and their families to monitor and manage their usage and save on consumption and costs. Water meters now enable residents not only to manage consumption but also to identify leaks in water pipes and reduce wastage. Overall the consumption of electricity and water combined was reduced by up to approximately 30% in the housing sector, while the monitoring and management thereof have become easier and more beneficial to the mine as well as the overall strategy of energy and water conservation.
 
Summary
 
Harmony Mine achieved reductions in electricity and water consumption, while enabling the long term investment in equipment to provide both prepayment and post-payment metering with extensive reporting for internal use. The solution provides ease of purchase for mine workers and residents of the housing complexes. The accounting department can allocate purchases easily and pass data through to SAP HR. Beyond the evident benefits of the solution; mine workers faced with the necessity to pay for utilities can also benefit by having the control of consumption in their hands via monitoring and managing their budgets.
 
Mines and large organization engaged in production of goods, products and services are large consumers of utilities and employ thousands of people often in each and every location; such reductions and cost savings make a big difference in the bottom line both of the mine and the residents. Cost saving in one month can amount to millions of rand. Saving in such industries can contribute largely in the overall conservation effort due to there sheer consumption and housing is no different.
 
Enbaya Prepaid Meters has developed and integrated technologies to enable both Smart Metering and Prepayment to achieve the vision of energy and water conservation for large organizations such as; mines, agricultural organizations and the industries that provide and manage utilities for staff housing accommodation. PrepaidMeters.co.za is continuously dedicated to finding the right technology solutions that suites the organizations overall strategy. To prove this Enbaya Prepaid Meters t/a PrepaidMeters.co.za is a 2012 Top mTechnology 100 [TT100] Qualifier for the second year in a row.