Smart Meter Contract for British Gas Creates 600 Jobs
By Anne Lewis-Schneider
In excess of ten million smart meters are to be manufactured for British Gas by Landis+Gyr after they were awarded with the contract worth around £600 million. Government has launched a systemic roll-out of the smart meters, which it hopes will be completed and installed in all homes by 2020. The new meters will automatically send readings of gas and electricity usage to the energy supplier. This will bring an end to the current usage of estimated consumption billing.
In a bid to make consumers more aware of their energy usage and to get customers to change their usage to lower demand periods thus enabling the introduction of new tariffs for off-peak usage, British Gas are talking about launching a new scheme by next year for what it is calling Free Power Saturdays. It is hoped that the smart meters will change perceptions of energy use and encourage users to reduce their power consumption by as much as 5% which would result in an annual saving of £65 for the average household.
As always there are fears that this form of reading will be invasive on people’s habits. Managing director of British Gas, Chris Weston has said that this will not occur as the meters will be read on a once-daily basis, and that privacy and security of households would not be compromised in any way. British Gas would however like to get consumers to share usage on a half-hourly basis, which would also be collected on a daily basis. This is hoped to give a better breakdown of energy usage which will in turn allow for efficiency information to be relayed to customers.
There is going to be a boost in employment with the new meter roll-out with an estimated 1,000 jobs being created for the meter installers, and a further 600 jobs being created at the manufacturing end at Landis+Gyr. Gas meters will cost about £56 per unit and electricity meters £43 per unit with the display costing around £15. This initiative is the biggest programme to be ventured into world-wide to date, and already more than a million meters have been installed. There will be a waiting period in some areas where the mobile phone infrastructure needs to catch up in network availability. In a North American study, households using the smart meter have reduced their bills by an average of 8%.
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