Recommendation 8.2 : “Inform suppliers of what arrangements to make vis-à-vis customers when changing an old meter that exceptionally was part of a faulty series (that underestimated the reading) and led to complaints”
0- Follow-up to the recommendation
Implementation by ENEDIS in the 1st quarter of 2019.
Enedis sets great store by the quality of its metering data. This data is used by electricity suppliers to ensure accurate customer billing. Enedis carries out compliance tests on its meters. A metering fault can be detected during on-site maintenance (e.g. repairs, adjusting a circuit-breaker, etc.), at the request of a customer or the supplier. If a fault is detected, the distributor informs the customer and the supplier.
If an adjustment is needed after analysis by Enedis, the latter follows the procedures in force and corrects the usage data based on usage history. However, if no history is available, the customer’s usage is estimated on the basis of comparable supply points.
Enedis sends the customer and supplier a notification letter explaining the reasons for the rectified figures. The letter is sent along with a proposed evaluation of rectified usage in kWh.
In December 2017, the claimant queried the supplier ENGIE about his billing, in particular his recorded usage. The bill dated 4/12/2017 includes the electricity usage based on actual remote readings from 5/11/2016 to 7/11/2017 (off-peak hours reading between 569 kWh and 1,932 kWh and peak hours reading between 828 kWh and 3,259 kWh). This bill is based on readings taken by a LINKY meter fitted in June 2016. The billed electricity usage does not match usage observed in the past, and the claimant therefore questioned the accuracy of the fitted meter.
2- Mediation solution
In June 2016, as part of the national meter modernization programme, a service provider for distributor ENEDIS visited the claimant’s home to remove the meter (showing an off-peak hours reading of 09,586 and a peak hours reading of 13,265) and fit a Linky meter (with zero readings: 00,000/00,000). With regard to usage, the claimant’s meter was read twice a year up to June 2016 then every month from June 2016 (when the Linky meter was fitted).
From 2012 to October 2016, annual average usage was steady at around 10 kWh per day, without any seasonal variations between winter and summer. This stability of usage was confirmed during the 4 months following the fitting of the Linky meter. However, from November 2016, an increase in annual average usage was observed (14 kWh per day), concentrated in 2 winter periods (2016/2017 and 2017/2018), whereas average usage in the summer period was slightly lower than that observed in previous years. The stability of summer usage eliminates any suspicion of a faulty meter. This is because a meter cannot malfunction intermittently. Furthermore, such seasonal variations in usage can be explained by intentional or unintentional changes in usage patterns or equipment (heating appliances in particular in winter).
The old meter replaced with a LINKY model underestimated usage. The meter was part of a faulty series. However, neither the distributor nor the supplier explained this meter fault to the claimant, which would have enabled the matter to understand why usage increased with the new LINKY meter. The distributor did not pass on this information to the supplier.
The supplier ENGIE’s bill is correct and was based on accurate readings. Therefore, with regard to this mediation process, the supplier offered the claimant a free payment plan over 10 months to settle the bill dated 4/12/2017, as well as compensation for the inconvenience caused.
3- Generic observation
When changing a faulty meter known by the manufacturer to present a risk of underestimating
usage, the distributor should warn the supplier, who would then be able to inform its customer of the risk of underestimation. When a new meter is installed, it restores a “normal” level of consumption, which is probably higher than the level indicated by the old meter due to its structural defect.
4- Recommendation / Generic solution
The distributors (GRDF or ENEDIS) should send suppliers the list of meters publicly acknowledged as presenting a risk of underestimation by their manufacturers, to enable the suppliers to inform their customers in the event of complaints. In effect, when the new meter is installed, in all likelihood the customer will notice an increase in billed usage. The ENGIE Group’s Mediation service recommends that no adjustments should be billed solely in this case, for the period of operation of the meter known to be part of a faulty series.