London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — November 23, 2006 – Two large utilities in the UK are planning to introduce smart metering pilot projects in the next few months, in an effort to assess the benefits of the technology. Centrica will be ready to announce firm plans within the next few weeks, while Scottish and Southern Energy has confirmed it will trial the meters in the homes of 5,000 of its customers.
A consultation on using smart meters as a way to reduce energy consumption was announced by the government last week (see the link at the bottom of this news item). And within the next few weeks energy regulator Ofgem is expected to announce the names of the utility companies that have been chosen to receive a share of the funds that have been made available to fund pilot projects.
The UK has the most competitive energy market in Europe, and concerns have been raised that the introduction of smart meters could make it more difficult for customers to switch supplier. The issue of interoperability and compatibility between meters used by different companies has been mentioned by watchdog organisations such as energywatch. They note that if this issue is not resolved, energy suppliers will not be able to work with the meters installed by a different company, making it very expensive to switch supplier. There have been calls for the government and Ofgem to take more of a lead in ensuring interoperability between the various meters that utilities are installing.