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Smart meters are on their way

THE first batch of 35million Linky smart electricity meters, which allow customers to be charged for actual power consumption and not estimates as currently, will be fitted in French homes from this Autumn.

THE first batch of 35million Linky smart electricity meters, which allow customers to be charged for actual power consumption and not estimates as currently, will be fitted in French homes from this Autumn.

The move comes as parliament gave final approval to the energy transition law and opened the way for 11,000 jobs to be created in the electricity and gas industries thus allowing technicians to start fitting and developing Linky meters this year.

In two years time, the first of 11m Gazpar meters will start arriving in homes across the country.

For households welcoming the new fluorescent green Linky and orange Gazpar, into their homes, the majority should see a reduced energy bill as figures will be based on actual consumption and not estimations.

As the system beds in new forfaits contracts will be set up – similar to those for mobile phones – that allow clients to pick the usage regime that most suits them.

Linky will also give the power supplier quicker information on power cuts. Changes to contracts or settings or information needed while moving to a new home will also be transmitted faster.

Some meters can be fitted at a distance and with less delay – within 24 hours instead of the current five days and with no need to wait in for a technician to come.

Tests in around 300,000 households have shown that Linky can lead to fewer billing complaints and a cut in management errors and fraud while also bringing a reduction in power costs for the supplier through better peak demand management.

Linky also helps those who have renewable energy installations by recording both the production and consumption at the same time.

Although it does not display the consumption in real-time – this can be done by paying for extra services from an outside energy supplier – the information from the Linky is available within 24 hours on a dedicated internet page and gives a graphic showing how household energy demand changes in 10-minute periods.

This graphic shows consumption in kWh (kiloWatt hours) rather than the handier euros and centimes (as ERDF does not have billing information) but it will permit the launch of new graduated tariffs to allow households to cut bills.

Linky does not know the energy consumption of the various items in your home but you will be able to see the change in consumption when the washing machine is started and, perhaps, set it to delay for a cheaper period.

For a price, the Linky can also be extended to work with smart household equipment and householders may be able to save money by opting to have heating switched off at peak demand times.

The Linky switch starts in December and the first three million will be fitted by the end of 2016. It will cost between €5-6bn over the next six years while the €1bn Gazpar scheme is starting tests this year for roll-out between 2017 and 2022. Linky installation costs will be met by the grid company ERDF from the savings it makes on not sending out meter readers. The gas supply company GrDF says fitting costs for Gazpar will also be absorbed.

ERDF has a map that shows when the roll-out will start where you live – type your commune name or number.

The firm will write to each home about 30-45 days before the due date and the fitter will follow up with a letter giving a suggested date. If the meter is inside the house then a firm appointment can be agreed. Fitters will have a photo badge with identity details and phone numbers plus the ‘Partenaire Linky par ERDF’ logo. The changeover takes about 30 minutes and the power will be off for about 15 minutes.

Once done, ERDF will provide information on available services. You then create an account to access Linky information.


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