IBNA Special Report/The Albanian government struck a deal with the German company Deutsche Telecom to install 10 thousand smart meters in a part of Tirana. This pilot project, according to PM Edi Rama, aims at being the starting point for its expansion throughout the country. The opposition is skeptic. It warns that the costs will be very high and that these meters are damaging for the health of people.
Tirana, February 13, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Edison Kurani
Deutsche Telekom will start a Smart Metering pilot in Albania. Claudia Nemat, Deutsche Telekom, Board Member for Europe and Technology, announced this on the occasion of her visit in Albanian capital Tirana on Thursday.
“I am pleased that German state of the art technology and expertise pave the way towards Albania’s digital future. For that purpose we will launch a smart metering pilot in the coming months.” Nemat pointed out that Deutsche Telekom wants to support the Albanian government in modernizing the energy sector and thereby also in reducing electricity abuse, a big issue in Albania.
This could be a lighthouse-project towards positioning Albania as a key player for ICT based innovation in Southeastern Europe.”In the next months, we will have the opportunity to demonstrate our technological leadership and cutting-edge solutions to the Albanian people.” At present, several European countries are designing or implementing smart metering solutions.
Nemat considers the project in Albania as one of the many important steps towards becoming the leading European telecommunications provider. “We are working on a pan-European, IP-based network without regard to national borders across our footprint. The first step in this direction is to migrate all our fixed-line customers across Europe to IP. We want to complete this project by the end of 2018.”
Rama and Nemat: Guarantee for success
PM Edi Rama says that the involvement of Deutsche Telecom in this process, “which is a leader in Europe in the domain of technology and innovation, is a guarantee for success”.
“We’re privileged that such a large world company has joined us in this effort. Deutsche Telecom is also a European authority in the domain of technology that serves millions of subscribers and manages millions of land lines throughout the world”, says Mr. Rama.
Mrs. Nemat says that currently, Deutsche Telecom plans the creation of a pan European network based on the internet protocol modern technology. According to her, “this is the contribution for what it’s called as “the United States of Europe”.
The opposition has its own reserves
Suzana Guxholli (photo), head of the Energy and Natural Resources Department at the Democratic Party says that there are many question marks on the smart meters, while adding that these meters are damaging for the health.
“Smart meters require lots of investments, they result in big costs, can be manipulated and are damaging to health”, says Guxholli.
She says that “before Edi Rama announces the project in such a heroic manner, he must explain to the citizens of the country about the big costs, about all these questions and what’s most important, if the money for these smart meters would come out of Albanians’ pockets?”
The pilot project foresees 10 thousand meters which will be offered by the partner company.
Guxholli raises a question which has not received an answer so far: “What worries the citizens of the country is whether 1 million meters will be donated or will be bought by the government?”.
The democrat expert says that these meters are expensive, varying from 350 to 600 Euros. According to her, if they are paid from the tax payers’ money, they will further increase the already high energy bill.
“But, besides the 500 million Euros which is the estimated cost of 1 million meters, there must be preliminary investments to guarantee absolute stability in the entire system. There must be a stable power supply, there must be a communicating infrastructure of data through the supply company, meters and consumer, hence without a doubt, hundreds of millions of Euros worth of investments”, continues the opposition with its gloomy predictions.
Former adviser to Prime Minister Sali Berisha also stops on another issue, which relates to smart meters: “These meters have caused problems and debates even in developed countries, starting from health due to the radiation that they have, the high cost and lack of safety, because they can be manipulated”.
The expert says that in many countries like the USA, in California and New York, this issue is being debated by many instances, because these meters cause damages to the health of people, with a microwave radiation 100 times higher than that of smart phones”.
Guxholli says that these conclusions have been drawn by different scientists and by American Medical Association.
According to her, these meters are being criticized in other developed countries: “In Ontario, Canada or Victoria, Australia, criticism has reached as far as parliament about the costs and great damages”.
OSHEE: Opposition wants to prevent the investment
OSHEE (Distribution System Operator) says that the reserves expressed by DP are unfounded. According to it, a project pilot, entirely funded by the German side, has been attacked without even starting.
OSHEE says that “the smart meters project doesn’t aim at picking the pockets of Albanian taxpayers, but to fulfill the wish of Albanian consumers to pay for what they consume”.
OSHEE declares that it will fund the expansion of the meters throughout the country. “The funding of this major operation will be covered through OSHEE’s incomes from the expected fall of losses, as a result of the success of smart meters”.
On the other hand, OSHEE assures the public: “We will not sell the smart meters to Albanian people, but they will be property of OSHEE”.
In the recent days, there has been news for the Albanian government plans to resell OSHEE.
The plan is part of the program for economic reforms 2015-2017, which has been officially submitted to the European Union. The Ministry of Finance is consulting an expert company on this issue. According to it, a contract is expected to be signed at the middle of this year.
The granting of OSHEE management to a private company has been first publicly signaled by the minister of Energy. Sources from the Ministry of Energy admit that this is an option that is being discussed, but according to them, it’s still an idea, although according to the document of the ministry of Finance, this project may be materialized within this year.
The government’s incentive comes a few months after the nationalization of OSHEE, following its sale to the Czech company, CEZ. If the first time the company was sold, this time, the aim is to pass it into private administration, but it will still remain under public ownership. /ibna/