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SARAJEVO, May 17 (Reuters) - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) approved on Wednesday a 32 million euro ($35.6 million) loan to Montenegro to help the Balkan nation meet an environmentally-driven EU scheme before a 2020 deadline.
The loan will help the country buy another 60,000 smart electricity meters and lift installation levels to 85 percent of consumers by 2019. It will also improve Montenegro's electricity network and cut CO2 emissions by 86,000 tonnes a year.
The smart meters allow utilities to collect real-time data on customers' consumption and manage networks remotely, eliminating the need to send out costly technicians and visits by meter readers.
Montenegro, which has a population of just 650,000, is aiming to join the EU. With this project, it will meet an EU directive requiring 80 percent of its households to have smart meters installed by 2020 as part of a scheme to promote greater awareness of energy use.
The total cost of the project is put at 39 million euros, with the remainder to be provided by Montenegro's electricity distribution system operator CEDIS.
$1 = 0.8977 euros Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Mark Potter