British Gas rolls out 80,000 smart meters

British Gas rolls out 80,000 smart meters

Energy firm also ‘on track’ with £100m cost cutting

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British Gas has rolled out 80,000 smart meters to customers. The company has also confirmed its plans to cut £100 million from operational costs remain "on track".

The company said the smart meters, which aim to show consumers their energy usage in real time, had been installed in “homes and businesses” across the UK by the end of last month. This was part of activities that would help “underpin future growth”, British Gas said.

Some 2,300 engineers are already employed to install the meters. By 2012, British Gas will create over 2,500 more jobs to work on the smart meter rollout.

Under government plans, every household in the UK will have a smart meter by 2020. The government has insisted that energy suppliers are responsible for fitting and paying for the meters. Nationally, the scheme is aimed at delivering £14.6 billion of benefits in the period, including £6.3 billion savings for suppliers through avoided meter reading, and £4.6 billion savings for consumers through reduced energy usage.

British Gas parent Centrica told investors yesterday that it expected a positive year ahead, adding it was also “on track” to cut operational costs “by more than the £100 million originally targeted”.

At an investor presentation two months ago, British Gas managing director Phil Bentley said the focus on costs was “relentless”, and included a reduction in the number of back office staff, the removal of duplicated processes and improvements in general efficiency.

The company, which is also working to improve procurement, said it was developing an online risk assessment tool “to improve supply chain risk assessment”. This aims to help monitor procurement ranging from boilers to IT support services.

Meanwhile, British Gas is engaged in a dispute with its former IT supplier Accenture over the 2006 collapse of the utility company’s SAP-based customer billing system. The case is not expected to be heard in court until 2012.

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