The French government has given the go ahead to a nationwide rollout of electricity smart metering in France, which will see a total of 35 million meters installed at a cost of €4.3 billion starting in 2013.
The announcement was made by the minister for Industry, Energy and Digital Economy, Eric Besson.
The meters are the so-called “Linky” meters, of which 300,000 have been under test by EDF’s distribution subsidiary, ERDF, for a year from March 2010 to March 2011 in the regions of Lyon and Tours.
According to Minister Besson, 7 million Linky meters will be deployed between 2013 and 2014, followed by the additional 28 million between 2015 and 2018 – completing the rollout well in advance of the European target of 80 percent coverage by 2020.
Further, the meters, which include a built in display, will be supplied free to customers, with the additional costs of the deployment expected to be offset by the productivity gains it will achieve.
New services for customers that are envisaged starting in 2012 include invoices based on actual consumption, rather than on estimates, thereby eliminating the main cause of customer complaints. Customers will have access to up to two years of consumption history online, and they will be able to set consumption thresholds, which if they exceed they will be notified by SMS. Consumers also will be able to access free personalized advice from their supplier, based on their consumption.
“With 35 million meters to deploy, the Linky project is the most ambitious communicating meter deployment plan in the world,” stated Minister Besson.
He added that he would be taking steps to ensure the necessary legal and regulatory frameworks are in place, with confidence that these would be completed quickly, enabling ERDF to put out a tender for supply of the meters.
The previous Linky advisory committee, comprised of stakeholders including consumers, will now take on the role of monitoring the deployment. In addition it has been tasked with developing services for the home.
Minister Besson also envisaged that the experience would position French companies competitively for the export market.
“Overall the project is expected to create about 10,000 jobs in France,” concluded Minister Besson.