Articles

  • Mirka Karra

How to help vulnerable customers in France manage their energy bill

In France, the roll out of this year’s energy cheque (chèque énergie) to 5.8 million people has begun. The support is designed to help lower-income households manage their energy bills. The payment can go towards electricity, gas, heating oil, and even firewood expenses, as well as certain eco-friendly renovation projects. Last year the government had to make an extra payment of 100 euros in December to help low-income households, who typically spend in excess of 10% of their income on energy bills, deal with the rapid rise in energy costs. This year, in an additional effort to help these vulnerable customers manage their energy bills, new legislation will come into force. The decree mandates that energy retailers must offer this customer group access to free real-time energy insights displayed in an easy-to-understand consumer app or web portal. The deadline for implementation is in October with financial support packages available to retailers to help fund the initiative.



What does it take for French energy retailers to offer real-time insights to their customers?


Some energy retailers in France are already offering in-house built energy disaggregation to their customers based on smart meter data. This service provides energy information only on the previous day at the activity level. To offer next-level monitoring based on real-time data requires an additional hardware integration for the existing portfolio of linky smart meters. The quality of hardware and how accurate data can be captured play a major role. The problem with such services can be that algorithms that predict accuracy may be poorly trained and the acquisition cost for hardware too high.


Delivering a solution to meet the needs of consumers


NET2GRID has developed one such solution specifically focused on delivering against these objectives and overcoming common challenges. With over 95% of French households now equipped with a Linky Smart meter, a new self-install hardware solution can be simply connected to unlock the data from the meter. The data can then be easily integrated into existing customer apps or if required a full-service solution including the app itself can be delivered as a one-stop-shop solution. NET2GRID has developed affordable hardware while the algorithms that conduct the data analysis are trained based on real-time information and the largest labeled appliance data set in the world. As a result, NET2GRID can disaggregate real-time data with over 90% accuracy.

When it comes to services’ features, detailed household energy disaggregation, self, and peer comparison, and energy saving tips can be easily added. Research has shown that this level of insight can lead to energy savings of up to 15% (Source). Such services are typically only available as premium monthly subscriptions not normally accessible to the low-income group who can benefit the most.

For the retailer, the added benefit comes from the fact that the solution delivers against all the requirements and objectives of the new decree as well as being completely transferable for premium service offerings such as solar monitoring and EV charge management.