Will Enedis turn off the water heaters of 4 million French people remotely thanks to Linky? – Liberation

To avoid overheating of the electricity grid in this winter, a decree provides for the possibility of suspending the heating of the water tanks of some users for two hours during consumption peaks in the central hours of the day. But users will have the ability to legally circumvent this measure.

Power outages this winter are a concern. To cushion the consumption peaks, RTE, the electric carrier, has asked the authorities to limit the use of water heaters between noon and two. It’s done. A decree of 22 September authorizes the operators of the public electricity distribution networks – primarily Enedis – to suspend, for users equipped with a special box, the heating of their water tank for two hours, in the central hours of the day .

“This temporary suspension, which saves the equivalent of 2.5 GW (ie the equivalent of two production units) at 12:30 and 1 GW at 13 (one production unit), is intended to limit the risk of power outages during consumption peaks from 12 noon to 2 pm The heating period will therefore take place during off-peak night hours, as is already the case for most customers. The customer keeps the price for peak hours / off-peak hours for all your consumption during this time from 12:00 to 14:00. explains Enedis. And insist CheckNews that it is neither a power outage nor a hot water outage.

Electric signal

The provision will come into effect from October 15th to April 15th. However, it does not apply to all consumers. In fact, only natural persons, professionals and local authorities who have subscribed a power lower than or equal to 36 kVA, “who have Linky and an off-peak meridian pass”, so in the middle of the day, he will be worried, explains Enedis. This is 4.3 million potential customers, out of approximately 35 million Linky meters installed.

How does the manager intend to proceed? During a press conference organized this Wednesday, Thierry Sudret, operations and systems director of Enedis, explained that the modality foreseen by the decree “It refers to the reduced rate system that has existed for forty years to save energy”.

We remind you that for years customers have been able to subscribe to a subscription with differentiated billing of electricity according to the so-called peak hours (where the kWh is more expensive) and the so-called off-peak hours (kWh cheaper), defined in the contract.

A specific electrical signal is then sent to the meter to activate off-peak hours and therefore the most advantageous pricing. But this signal also allows the heating of the hot water kettle to be turned on, for the people who have it“one contactor”. This is a specific switch, installed on the electrical panel, which is used – in most cases – to control the water heater. In addition to the open and closed positions, available on conventional switches, “The contactor has a third position that starts the hot water operation when it receives the” rush hour “signal”, explains Thierry Sudret. Using this contactor is the only way to remotely control the water heater. It is therefore essential to apply the decree.

No visible consequences

What is the role of the Linky meter in this device that has been around for decades? Contrary to what some of its detractors claim, the “smart” meter does not allow you to control this or that electrical device. It is also based on the contactor, like the previous models. However, “Linky makes it possible to preserve the reduced rate while postponing the launch of the water heater”, explains Thierry Sudret. How ? Suspending “the auto-on signal linked to off-peak hours from 12:00 to 14:00.”, which normally triggers the contactor, is written in the decree. In other words, the water heater “thinks” it is in peak hours and does not turn on, without the peak hour rate being applied for the other appliances, which are always on. Without Linky, such a measure could have represented a significant cost to the consumer who would have had to pay all his electricity consumption at the peak hour rate.

Enedis believes that the measure should not have visible consequences for users, except for particularly high water consumption.

However, the device has two limitations in terms of effectiveness. The first: all customers with peak and off-peak rates do not have a contactor installed on the electrical panel. Some websites also explain how to install this box with a Linky meter. When asked about the share of customers with a contactor, Thierry Sudret replied that he could not give a figure. “The vast majority of people who install an off-peak electric water heater have a contactor,” he believes, though.

Second limit, and no less important: a customer, if he wishes, can still start his water heater in “forced operation” from his electrical panel, with a simple movement of the finger, taking advantage of the reduced rate. This maneuver can be useful, for example if all the water in the balloon has been used up during the lunch break.

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