Czech power group CEZ (Prague, Czech Republic) plans to have 23,500 smart energy meters installed in western Bulgaria by the end of 2012 to help modernize its power grid and boost its efficiency, the company said on Wednesday.
CEZ -- central and Eastern Europe's largest utility -- has already installed more than 18,000 smart meters costing some $46.5 million since 2009, it said in a statement. The number should hit 20,000 by the end of 2011.
Smart meters enable more efficient use of energy by adapting consumers' supplies to changing daily demand patterns and enabling consumers to feed unneeded electricity back into the grid.
In Bulgaria, however, CEZ's smart meters will be initially used only for a remote metering of power consumption until the country fully liberalizes its power market and consumers start choosing between different providers, CEZ spokesman said.
The company, which took over power distribution in western Bulgaria in 2004, serves more than 1.9 million end-consumers and has invested some $345 million to improve the Balkan country's outdated power grid.
The Bulgarian state, which has 33% stake in CEZ's Bulgarian units, plans to float its shares by the year-end to bolster its public finances.
(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; editing by Michael Kahn)