France will be the next focal point for the smart meter industry. All that needs to happen is for the government to announce final details of a tender plan, and the country will enter a rollout phase that will involve 35 million smart electric meters, covering essentially every home in the country and lasting through 2021. A decision is expected soon, perhaps as early as mid-summer.
The new meters will be deployed in two phases. Phase one calls for 7 million smart meters – dubbed Linky – to be installed in homes starting in 2014, with the remaining 28 million smart meters to follow in the second phase. The estimated value of the long-term deployment is between $6.7 billion and $9.3 billion.
The big question among smart meter vendors is who will win orders from ERDF, the French utility that oversees the power distribution network in France that covers nearly all of the country’s electricity customers. ERDF is expected to choose multiple meter vendors, and Itron, Landis+Gyr, and Elster appear to be the most likely winners, according to industry insiders.
I got a preview of this big deployment when I attended the SG Paris 2013 conference in early June. Hardware vendors are optimistic, as the French deployment represents one of the largest smart metering opportunities anywhere in the world, outside of China.
There is some concern about how France’s famously prickly consumers will react to the new smart meters. During the conference, I took part in a panel discussion on the subject of business-to-consumer relations between utilities and their customers, and the general view is that French consumers will have little choice but to accept the meters, with government regulators monitoring any pushback. So, the next major smart meter rollout looks like a fait accompli, at least for now.
Tags: Conferences & Events, Energy Management, Policy & Regulation, Smart Grid, Smart Meters, Smart Utilities Program
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