Industry debates about smart metres rollout

02 November 2007
Smart metres, devices designed to save bill payers cash and reduce their carbon footprints, have attracted recent controversy.

Centrica, part of the British Gas group, is set to lock horns with industry regulator Ofgem on the issue, with the former stating that the technology must be used as it has the power to effect positive change for all parties, the Evening Standard reports.

However, Ofgem is concerned that regional monopolies could arise if smart metres are deployed and Centrica's proposals to use local franchises to make these workable become a reality, a scenario it fears and is firmly set against.

Sam Laidlaw, chief executive of Centrica, is quoted by the publication as saying: "The rapid rollout to all households is a real opportunity to revolutionise the industry, giving the UK billions of pounds of benefits through reduced usage, lower CO2 emissions and better customer service."

Ofgem's stance is the second major blow within a week for the British Gas group, with users of consumer advice service uSwitch ranking the firm's customer service as rock bottom in the industry for the third year in succession.

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