35 million smart meters roll out. Not so fast?
The French government just announced its decision to roll out 35 million smart meters across the country. The program will start in 2013 and end in 2018 at a pace of 7 million meters installed every year. So far, this is the biggest single smart grid deployment project ever announced and meter manufacturers such as Itron, eMeter and Landys+Gyr are planning to bid for this “once in the life time opportunity”.
The decision ofcourse was made after EdF (the utility that has a quasi-monopoly on power generation and distribution in France) conducted successful pilots and developed a compelling business case. According to the company, the average cost of a meter would be €171 ($240) and consumers would gain €50 of savings on and average bill of €400.
Not everybody agrees though. The French federation of municipalities believes that the real cost of the program will be €8B to €9B instead of €4.3B as announced by the government. The French property manager association does not want the consumers to pay anything for this program in pinpointing that EdF actually charged the consumers participating to the pilot €3.5 a month (about $5). At the same time, UFC, the most powerful consumers association in France criticizes the government decision arguing that none of the goals assigned to the pilots project were reached. UFC claims that the meters used for the testing are not dependable, that the installation process took much more time than planned and that consumers will have to bear an extra cost of €12 to €240 (between $170 and $340) per meter.
Like in Canada recently, a big smart grid roll out is facing mounting protest. The French roll out was initially scheduled to start in 2012 and end in 2016. The new planning is pushed one year, maybe because EdF and the French government know that this roll out will not be so easy.
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