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Installation of smart meters to take 8 years at a cost of SR7bn

The Electricity and Co-generation Regulatory Authority (ECRA) said the estimated cost of installing smart meters will amount to SR7 billion, and the time for the implementation process will take up to 8 years.
Abdullah Al-Shahri, governor of ECRA, was quoted saying to a local newspaper that a national supervisory committee has been formed with the participation of the Ministry of Electricity and Water and a number of relevant bodies to implement the trial phase of the meters’ installation, and to discuss possible solutions to technical and administrative problems that may emerge following their installation.
He said the Electricity Company has carried out a number of trial projects to be familiar with the performance of the meters, the extent of their resistance to heat and various communication means. He added that 6,000 digital meters will be installed for all industrial subscribers.
“Work is currently underway to install 40 thousand meters for major commercial subscribers to begin with,” explained Al-Shahri, adding, “The whole integrated plan needs high funding and much more time.”
The study estimated the initial cost of the installation of smart meters to stand at SR7 billion, he said noting, “But they will yield much more than that to the company and our national economy given the savings in the fuel to operate and manage the electricity loads.”
Commenting on the news recently circulated on the chairmanship of the Ministry of Electricity to the board of directors of the ECRA, and its governor as a deputy, he asserted that there is no conflict of interests in this regard.
He said that that the ECRA board includes 12 members besides the chairman. “The members include the governor, 6 members representing relevant government bodies, and 5 independent members appointed through a decision by the Council of Ministers,” he explained.
He explained that the decisions of the ECRA require the approval of the majority for their endorsement. “This is the case with the other authorities in the Kingdom such as the Communications & Information Technology Commission which is chaired by the Minister of Communication and Information Technology and has the governor of ECRA as his deputy, the Industrial Cities and Technology Zones (Modon) with the Minister of Commerce and Industry as the chairman of board of directors,” he said.
He said that supervising the financial and administrative independence of ECRA is under the control of the Council of Ministers, much like the rest of the independent bodies of the ministries. Its accounts also, he explained are included in the monitoring process of the General Auditing Bureau. “This involves, of course, monitoring its performance, assuming its responsibilities and the handling of its accounts by outside auditors,” he added.
It is worth mentioning that ECRA assumes the tasks of issuing the executive lists of the technical, environmental, procedural and operational rules as well as the necessary licensing concerning any electrical activity. It also sets out the performance standards for licensees to meet before issuing the required licenses.

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