French consumers, town halls resist ERDF smart meters
Monday 15 February 2016 | 22:38 CET | News
French power grid ERDF, an EDF subsidiary, is facing opposition to its Linky smart meter project, reports Le Figaro. The project calls for all 35 million of the country’s electricity meters to be replaced by 2021 at a cost of EUR 5 billion. Some opponents are concerned that remote readings will result in higher bills, others worry about privacy, and yet others fear negative health consequences of electromagnetic emissions. France’s national safety and environment agency, Anses, is due to submit a report to the government on so-called electromagnetic field hypersensitivity by the end of the year.
In the meantime, several groups, including Robin des Toits and Priartem-Electrosenibles, have called on citizens to refuse the smart meter, arguing that the law does not explicitly forbid it. According to consumer rights association 60 Millions de Consommateurs, “You cannot, in principle, prevent an installation, but at this time, ERDF is not forcing its way into homes and does not impose Linky on users who refuse it.”
Another consumer group, UFC-Que Choisir reminds its members that electricity customers do not own the meter, which remains the property of local authorities that turn them over to ERDF for operation. In addition, municipalities and local residents groups across France are opposing the installation of Linky as well as its counterpart for gas, Gazpar. Le Figaro cites a half a dozen town halls and opposition groups around the country.
ERDF told the newspaper that the Linky project has obtained all necessary authorisations and that “no local deliberation can contradict the authorisations received by ERDF.” The company adds that it will deal with the cascade of local complains through dialogue and community relations with elected officials. ERDF has 1,000 local offices. The utility infrastructure operator said that any of France’s 36,000 French mayors can schedule a meeting with a dedicated staff member who will answer their questions.