Actaris, a subsidiary of Itron Inc, has entered into contracts in Azerbaijan for prepayment metering technology to help electricity and gas providers improve revenue collection.Actaris signed an agreement with Azeri Gas and Electricity Metering (AGEM) to deliver 100,000 integrated Smart Card prepayment electricity meters, and the TaleXus Vendor revenue collection system. The meters will be installed in two areas of Azerbaijan. Additionally, Actaris, through its partner Gulf Axxess, is deploying a prepayment solution for 65,000 gas meters in the city of Ganga. The gas prepayment solution has been in pilot with Azeri Gas since 2006.Prepayment solutions have become a focus for Azerbaijan because utilities can significantly improve revenue collection and increase investment in power generation and distribution infrastructure. There are already a number of pilot programs for prepayment solutions in a number of cities with further long-term integration planned throughout the country. Actaris Smart Card technology offers an efficient and cost-effective method for secure revenue collection via full “two-way” prepayment—using a smart card to carry credit to the meter and meter readings back to the utility. This adaptable technology offers consumers a convenient and flexible way to manage their own energy consumption and costs and at the same time, enable the utilities to collect revenue, recover debts and understand the customer’s energy usage. Existing bank “smart cards” of participating consumers, (which can be used by consumers for a variety of purposes, including transportation) will be adapted so that they can also be used to credit their electricity meters. This is the first time that utilities in Azerbaijan have implemented a prepayment system using existing bank cards and linking prepayment technology with a banking infrastructure. Deployment is expected to begin in March 2008.