Paris, France --- (METERING.COM)

On July 25, France’s minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy and Economy and Finance gave their approval in principle – with a final decision to follow the tender outcome – to the mass deployment of the Gazpar smart gas meters.

This statement followed two positive deliberations by France’s Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) on June 13, 2013, confirming that the project fully complies with consumers’ expectations regarding billing accuracy and contributes to helping energy management. Specifically in its deliberations CRE recommended that a positive decision be made regarding the mass rollout of smart gas meters, and proposed necessary modifications to the regulatory framework.

The Gazpar smart meter has been under development by GrDF, with full input from local authorities, energy suppliers, consumers associations, and other stakeholders since 2009. It will provide daily consumption data to 11 million residential and small business natural gas consumers. GrDF believes this solution answers two major objectives:

  • Switching from estimated bills to systematic billing on real measurements will increase billing accuracy and hence customer satisfaction
  • Frequent consumption data will support the development of consumption profile analyses, and advice and actions to consumers to reduce their energy bills.

Project steps
A lot of preparatory work remains to be done before deployment starts. It is proposed that mass rollout should start at the end of 2015, with a one-year pilot aiming at deploying 150,000 meters. Then a progressive ramp-up would lead to deploying the remaining 11 million meters over a period of 6 years simultaneously in every region of France. The project is expected to end in 2022 according to current planning hypothesis.

From a technical point of view, the smart gas meter project comprises:

  • Replacing 11 million meters with gas meters equipped with a radio module
  • Deploying a secure data communication infrastructure from the meters to the information system
  • Developing GrDF’s information system to receive and manage 11 million meter readings per day.

Various consumption data (monthly, daily, hourly) will be retrieved and sent to suppliers and then customers, which will enable consumers to act on their energy consumption.

The business case
The project cost is approximately €1 billion – half of which is for the equipment, a third for the rollout, and the rest for information system development (to be undertaken by Capgemini).

In the economic study ordered by CRE, the project was indicated to be highly profitable for the community due to expected energy savings. A conservative estimate of 1.5% savings on total gas consumption was made. Field test in the United Kingdom and Ireland yielded savings between 2% and 3% in similar context to France. Moreover, energy suppliers and energy efficiency consulting businesses have indicated that a significant market of energy efficiency services will eventually emerge thanks to the rollout of smart gas meters.

The Gazpar meters will be financed through the distribution tariff due by energy suppliers to GrDF. The financial impact on the tariff has been evaluated to be less than 1.3% over the duration of the project, and hence around 0.3% on an average customer’s energy bill. However, this increase is expected to be fully compensated by the energy savings.