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Smart Electricity Meters in all Homes

Wednesday 06 January 2016

A programme for the installation of smart electricity meters in all homes in France is being rolled out.

The regular visit of the technician to do manual reading of your electricity meter in France will soon be a thing of the past, as will estimated electricity meter readings.

In a programme that is scheduled to be completed by 2021, the French electricity distribution agency ERDF has commenced the installation of 'Linky' smart meters in all homes in France.

The programme is being carried out as part of a wider European based initiative on the use of intelligent meters and follows substantial trials on the new system carried out in parts of France.

Once installed, your electricity meter will be read remotely to your supplier, and your bill for each accounting period will be based on actual consumption.

The meters also come with real-time displays, which in theory should allow consumers to monitor electricity consumption.

However, ERDF have not been obliged to install the meters where they can be easily read by the household, so for those who have a meter outside of the property that benefit will not be available for everyone, although it will be possible to consult consumption on a dedicated website.

Even where the meter can be read, it will only show consumption in kilowatts-hours (Kwh), not the actual cost.

The change has been made obligatory on all households, and although the meters will initially be installed free of charge to the consumer, from 2021 there will be an additional levy on your electricity bill.

The costs to ERDF of around €5 billion (around €150 per household) will be offset by the savings they will making on employing 2,000 technicians to undertake manual meter readings.

One of the features of the supply of electricity in France is that households are able to choose the amount of power to the property, from 3KVA to 36KVA, with a progressively higher consumption charge payable.

Many households in the country have a power output that is not suited to their actual consumption, being either too high or too low.

A number of consumer organisations in France claim that as the new smart meters are more sensitive to excessive power surges, many households will be required to increase their power supply at a higher rate.

This is a charge denied by ERDF, who have stated that the new meters are not more sensitive than existing meters.

They also claim that with the provision of additional information about consumer usage it will be possible to offer consumers a lower power supply, to within 1KVA of their needs, currently only possible in steps of 3KVA.

The electricity regulator, the Commission de régulation de l'énergie (CRE), has requested that if a change of the power supply is necessary as a result of the new meter, there should be no charge.

For those who are also using renewable energy in their property, where the use of two meters is generally necessary, a single Linky meter will replace the existing meters.

The new meters will also allow other operations to be carried out remotely, such as closing and opening of accounts.

For those with mains gas a programme of intelligent meter (Gazpar) installation will commence in 2017.

Details of the broad programme of installation can be found at Le compteur Linky chez vous, from where, at an appropriate juncture, you can also contact ERDF about the actual date of installation on your property.

Notice of the proposed installation will be given to you by letter from ERDF 30 to 45 days in advance of the work.

The new meter will be installed in the same location as the existing meter and will take approximately 30 minutes.

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