SharedSolar provides pay-as-you-go electricity to low income communities through innovative solar microgrids. Local customers pre-pay for the service when they want electricity and do so without any monthly fees. Real-time demand and supply management strategies help ensure fair distribution and high uptimes across the microgrid.
As demand grows over time, capacity can be added through more solar panels or even other energy sources like wind, hydro, or diesel. When the grid arrives, the local distribution network and management system can be utilized without modifications.
All SharedSolar stakeholders have access to real-time, contextual information. Customers can access their use and balance data and make payments using mobile phones, operators have enhanced situational awareness and control, and donors and governmental agencies can monitor performance using the same platforms.
By summer 2012, eight SharedSolar microgrid systems were installed in the Mbarara province of Uganda, specifically in the villages of Nyaktunda, Ruhiira and Nyarushanje. These systems now needed a formal review to better understand uptime, consumption, customer feedback, and any technical issues.
The SharedSolar project included the following goals:
- Visit and survey all installation sites
- Meet key local personnel for O&M and bill collection
- Conduct customer survey on electricity usage and other feedback
Price Reduction to Incentivize Consumption
Given the low level of consumption compared to operating capacity, we decided to significantly lower prices upon receiving customer feedback through an oral survey. We proposed revisiting consumption data on a monthly basis to analyze the effects of this change to see how it has affected both demand and revenue.
Customer Education on Acceptable Appliances
Along with the MVP team in Mbarara, we developed a list of acceptable appliances for the SharedSolar systems and provided contact information to answer any further questions. Customer feedback and questions during our oral surveys suggested that customers needed more guidance on what appliances were applicable for the microgrid.
Repaired Inoperable SharedSolar Systems
After visiting each SharedSolar system, all were repaired and are now working properly. Customers have been notified and educated on acceptable appliances and the new tariff schedule.
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