59994526 - row of analog electric meters. electricity consumption concept. 3d illustration

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has approved a €1bn loan supporting E-Distribuzione’s plan to replace digital meters in Italy.According to a release, the terms of an initial instalment of €500 million were agreed on Friday.The signing of the agreement was attended by EIB vice president Dario Scannapieco, Enel CEO Francesco Starace and Gianluigi Fioriti, head of E-Distribuzione. Enel S.p.A. has guaranteed the loan.

The release states that "the loan recipient is E-Distribuzione, the Enel Group company holding the concession for electricity distribution services and responsible for installing the new 'Open Meters'".

The EIB will finance part of the investment envisaged for 2017-2021 in the smart meter installation plan.

The smart meter plan includes the installation of approximately 41 million new generation smart meters (2.0) over a 15 year period.

“This transaction further strengthens our relationship with the Enel Group, with whom we have worked for years in a wide range of areas: from modernising power plants to the electricity distribution grid, and new alternative energy projects, just as we supported the installation of the first generation of smart meters 15 years ago," said Dario Scannapieco, vice president of the EIB.

“The second generation of smart meters will open a new world of opportunities and services for households, businesses, offices and shopping centres, reconciling consumer protection with technological innovation. The new device represents a leap in performance that will make Italy the world’s most advanced country in electricity distribution. The initiative is a major investment that will involve 250 Italian companies and 4,000 technicians in the installation phase alone," commented Francesco Starace, CEO of Enel.

Meeting EU energy efficiency standards

The replacement of existing meters with the next generation of devices has been prompted by the requirement for electricity distribution companies to deploy intelligent metering systems that meet the energy-efficiency standards set by the European Union (European Directive 2012/27/EU, transposed into Italian law with Legislative Decree 102/2014).

[quote] The release notes that "the energy scenario of recent years has underscored the importance of timely management of more comprehensive and detailed information to support the activities of electric companies and their customers. The Open Meter technology will make it possible to promote energy efficiency, increase awareness of consumption behaviour, foster competition in post-meter services and develop the home automation market."

E-Distribuzione’s plan has been designated an EU project of common interest (PCI) and is part of the EIB’s activities in the energy sector, fighting climate change and providing support for convergence regions (i.e. less economically developed EU regions), since 40% of meters are located in southern Italy, Sicily and Sardinia.