Electrical meters have been used from the late 19th century. First meters operated on liquid movements, analogous to sand watch. Then mechanical meters have arrived, surviving without major changes for more than 100 years. Mechanical meters are obsolete in electronic, highly computerized environment of both electricity production and distribution, and customer service and payment processing.
Why electronic meters
By late 1990s, mechanical meters became obviously outdated. A few major disadvantages are clear:
Mechanical meters could easily be tampered with.
A great number of inspectors has to be employed for reading the meters.
Sending out bills is an expensive procedure.
Processing payments is even more expensive, requiring a large number of employees.
Single tariff constrains effective usage of electricity. Power distribution companies can't discourage peak time usage by punitive tariff and promote night-time consumption by industrial customers with lower tariff.
Electronic meters not only overcome these obstacles but also offer a number of additional advantages:
Electronic meters could be connected in network, just like computers.
Real-time reading gives up-to-the-minute clear picture of consumption with any detalization required, even up to single building level. Power Distribution Company now knows where to upgrade cables and transformers. It doesn't have to rely any more on subjective requests of its customers or use often misleading monthly averages.
Prepaid cards let avoid any bad debts.
Customer is automatically disconnected when his prepaid balance reaches zero.
Not only multi-tariffs are allowed but they also could be changed remotely at any time