British Gas set to speed up smart meter rollout

British Gas set to speed up smart meter rollout

The utility company needs to install nearly 90 percent of target by end of 2012

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British Gas has said it will now be speeding up its smart meter rollout in order to meet its target of installing two million smart meters in homes and businesses by the end of 2012.

The government wants to have 47 million smart meters , which provide real-time information about energy usage to customers and the supplier, installed in the UK by 2020.

According to the British Gas’s parent company Centrica’s corporate responsibility report published today, it has installed more than 258,000 smart meters since it started doing so in 2010, which is only around 13 percent of the target.

“We always wanted to do a slow rollout,” said Elliot Grady, media relations manager at British Gas, citing reasons such as ongoing discussions with industry regulator Ofgem to agree the meter specifications, such having open standards, and wanting to test the meters before a wider implementation.

“There’s still one or two bits to bed down with Ofgem but the specifications are there,” said Grady.

In addition, Grady said that the roll out will speed up once British Gas has completed the recruitment of a new in-house smart meter team, to eliminate the use of contractors.

 “We are in the process of hiring the 2,600 [smart meter employees], and we’ve got more than half. The rollout is increasing rapidly from now.”

Meanwhile, to help reduce its carbon emissions, Centrica has implemented strategies such as rolling out GPS to its UK commercial vehicles, which helps to calculate the most efficient routes, to reduce the mileage and fuel used. More than 80 percent of the fleet is now fitted with GPS, and it follows a recent introduction of speed limiters in its fleet.

To reduce business travel and the associated carbon emissions, the company has also invested in upgrading video-conferencing equipment at its main offices to encourage more virtual meetings, and improved the delivery and support of its web-conferencing solution, which it plans to re-launch this year with a new training and awareness campaign.

In addition, Centrica has installed software that automatically shuts down PCs that are left on in the evening, and then turns them back on before employees arrive at work the next morning.

According to a recent analysis of the participants of the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme, by consultancy firm Cambium LLP, companies in the energy sector were the best performing of all private companies on sustainability indicators.  

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