Prepaid electric meters market set for expansion

The worldwide installed base of prepaid electric meters is expected to grow from 35.7 million in 2015 to 85.1 million by 2024, according to a new report from Navigant Research.

The market for prepaid electric metering is steadily gaining ground, due to the spread of smart metering technology and growing acceptance of the idea of prepaying for services.

Paying in advance for electricity not only helps utilities improve their cash flow and reduce their delinquent payments, but also can help consumers better manage their budgets and, in some cases, reduce their energy consumption.

“Vendors expect prepaid metering to grow steadily in the coming years, but some regulators have not embraced the idea out of concern for protecting vulnerable customers, such as the elderly,” says Neil Strother, principal research analyst with Navigant Research. “While prepaid metering is common at some utilities, such as SRP in Arizona, and in South Africa and the United Kingdom, this market is highly dependent on local norms and regulations.”

In North America, only a small fraction of customers use prepay, according to the report, though it has made some inroads, particularly among cooperatives that have made it a priority. The region with the most prepay customers is expected to be Asia Pacific, where countries like Indonesia have made prepay a priority and are deploying conventional prepaid meters at a rapid pace.

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