Competition for gas metering in the UK 

For the first time, gas consumers in the UK who want to replace a gas meter, install a new meter or electronically interface to an existing unit can choose between installers. This should speed up the service, drive down prices and enable gas consumers’ easier access to consumption data for energy management purposes. 

Until recently, the national gas pipeline operator Transco owned all the meters and held a monopoly on installation. But now most non-domestic meters can be installed by a non-Transco provider.

“It’s a real breakthrough,” says Colin Boughton-Smith, Managing Director of Energy Metering Technology Ltd (EMT), the first company to independently install a fiscal gas meter. “We have been lobbying the regulator for several years to introduce competition in this area. It will free the way for a whole range of energy management services for consumers. We’re pleased to see it’s finally happening!”

The first gas meter changed under this new policy was in Leicester, where the City Council Energy Management Team led by Energy Manager Don Lack is installing EMT’s Data Bird Automatic Utilities Auditing (AUA) system across the council’s estate. This will enable it to automatically monitor electricity, gas and water consumption in their buildings and help deliver the 50% energy reduction the Council is working to. 

“The Data Bird automatic utilities auditing system we now have enables us to track our energy and water use on a regular basis,” explains Prakash Patel, Energy Officer at the City Council. “In many instances, we are now able to give the supplier a more accurate picture of consumption than they have themselves!”

“We will shortly be moving to a self-billing system, where we will do away with the problem of getting access for meter readers – as well as those dreaded estimated bills. This means we will only pay for what we have used. The increase in consumption information we get from the automatic utility auditing software will also enable us to increase our efficiency still further and eliminate any remaining wastage,” says Patel.

In addition, EMT is interfacing its AUA system to existing Transco metering at Leicester. The company has signed a national agreement with Transco, which allows them to establish electronic interfaces.

The News International Ltd site in Knowsley was the first to benefit under this EMT/Transco contract. The Data Bird AUA system is now helping them keep their energy costs as low as possible.

Ofgem Managing Director for Customers and Supply John Neilson said, “The ability of customers to choose their energy supplier has delivered significant benefits for customers in terms of lower bills and improved standards of services. There are further savings available through competition and choice in metering services. Ofgem has taken a number of steps recently to create this degree of choice for customers, and it is encouraging to see the benefits beginning to filter through.”

“Now that metering and data collection is further opened up to customer choice, through AUA systems such as our Data Bird, easier access to consumption data will provide a great boost for energy management. This in turn should lead to significant carbon savings,” says EMT’s Colin Boughton-Smith. “I welcome Ofgem’s move to free the way forward. We at EMT are proud to have been the catalyst and to be the pathfinders in this new area of competitive service provision.”