A retired man says he has been living in the dark after French energy company Enedis cut electricity to his home because he refused to have a Linky meter installed.
Philippe, a retired teacher, says he has lost at least 6 kg and fallen over once since his supply was cut in late May.
He had been demanding a replacement meter for months, but when Enedis turned up with a Linky in March he refused.
Philippe said he explained his reasons for not wanting the Linky smart meter - a device that was rolled out in 2018 in France and allows readings to be sent directly to the electricity supplier - but was then threatened by the Enedis worker.
“He told me: ‘If you do not want the Linky, you will have your electricity cut off’,” Philippe, who lives in the Saône-et-Loire department, told France 3 television channel. “I replied: ‘But that’s illegal’. ‘Yes, but it’s that or nothing,’ he said.”
On May 27 May, Philippe said a team from Enedis turned up without warning and cut electricity to his home, again saying it was because he had refused a Linky meter.
How did Enedis respond?
Enedis said the replacement of Philippe’s old meter with a Linky had been authorised by a court. The company said safety is its main priority and if it discovers an electricity meter is faulty, it will replace it to safeguard people.
It added that in line with the law on the rollout of Linky smart electricity meters, 92.6% of homes in Philippe’s region have a Linky meter meaning they are charged in real-time for their electricity.
Enedis also cited the other advantages of a Linky meter, including new rates offered by electricity companies and faster and remote meter readings.
Power cut complicates Philippe’s health problems
Philippe said his life has changed dramatically since his power was cut.
“I walk around with a head torch at night or in dark rooms. Tonight I fell because I could not see anything on the stairs. I eat cold food, I go to friends’ houses to charge my phone and the batteries for my head torch. All my cold foodstuffs are at my friends’ places.”
His health problems make the situation more complicated, as without electricity he can not use the artificial respirator he needs to manage his lung condition.
Philippe said he does not understand how such a situation could have happened.
“In my view, it is a crime of abuse of a state of frailty. They must restore my electricity, I am in the right, this cutoff is illegal. EDF [France’s electricity provider] can cut the electricity off for people who do not pay, or following a court decision, but I did not do anything.”
Despite urging from his friends, Philippe has said he will not “drop it” as he has done nothing wrong: “They are denying me energy which is a civil right.”