Serbia: Smart meters 80MEUR tender raise fierce critics on Power utility EPS, foreign suppliers can meet tender requirements

25. December 2014. / News Serbia Energy

Domestic companies have no chance on a tender for procurement of “smart” meters which was announced by Serbian Power utility company Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS), claim domestic producers. Three international companies meet the requirements. Missed opportunity for employment of 1,500 people.

None of the Serbian company can fulfill the conditions of the tender for the procurement of smart meters, which was announced by “Electric Power Industry of Serbia”. The condition for the contest is an annual turnover of 75 MEUR and to dispose of at least 25 MEUR. It is necessary that they can supply 250,000 meters per year, and that they already were doing similar work and sold at least 100,000 devices.

If our company took over this project, we could, as claim domestic meters producers,open 1,500 new jobs in the country. The opportunity to compete will have only three companies engaged in the electricity meters production in the world. The French engaged even 80 percent of domestic manufacturers of these devices for this business. So they opened 10,000 jobs. Unlike them, the foreign electricity meters will measureconsumption in Serbia.

– Domestic manufacturers have also developed and producedmeters generation more than 20 yearsthat allow remote sensing, monitoring and control – says JovanVujasinovic, president of the Group of equipment manufacturers for measuring electricity in the Serbian Chamber of Commerce. – After EPS strategically chose to use smart metersfour years ago, we have prepared to be the bearers of mass deployment in Serbia.

11 domestic companies that produce smart meters of electricity consumption and employ 600 people are joined together within the Serbian Chamber of Commerce. And if they attempted to apply together for a job –they would not pass because they earn 20 MEUR annually, which is five million less than EPS ordered.

-I responsibly claim that our group can complete the mass deployment job of smart measurement in Serbia and in parallel exports – says Vujasinovic.

– However, from what we have seen from the published tender none of us have opportunities to participate. Only the strongest companies of the world, namely several of them can answerat the conditions.

In our energy giant, however, claim that the tender is open to all meters manufacturers, both foreign and domestic.

– The most modern measurement system, where the smart meter is only one of the segments, will improve the quality of customer service and increase the energy and economic efficiency of EPS – say in this company.

There are about 3.5 million meters, of which 3.1 million are in households, and about 400,000 are industrial consumers.

That the market for meters production is gainful shows the celebrities involvement in the ownership of companies that deal with it. Four companies that are dominant in Serbia are “Sitel” daughter of “Microelectronics” from Banja Luka, EVG owned by former basketball player Dejan Bodiroga, “Enel” of Dragan Vasiljevic from Belgrade and “Meter end control” within “Rudnap group” of Vojin Lazarevic.

These companies, say producers, usually do not get a job in tenders financed by international financial institutions such as the EBRD or the World Bank.

The costs of installing “smart” meters will not be charged to the consumers but EPS will pay them from loans. Thus, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank will credit EPS with 40 MEUR for this project. According to EBRD, procurement will include, in addition to smart meters, hardware and software delivery, communications devices, applications and services for system integration and training.

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