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11 May 2009: ‘Smart Meters’ In All UK Homes

The British government has unveiled a plan that will require the installation of ‘smart’ electric meters in all homes and businesses by 2020. The meters — to be placed in 26 million residences and several million businesses — will give residents real-time digital information on energy consumption and can also be programmed to perform certain tasks, such as charging an electric car, during off-peak hours of energy use. Utilities also can monitor customers’ energy consumption and recommend ways to reduce energy demand. The government said that installation of the smart meters could save 2.5 to 3.6 billion British pounds over the next 20 years. The cost of installation could reach 8 billion pounds, but utilities say they can recoup most of those costs because meter readers will no longer be needed and the practice of estimating utility bills will be stopped. British officials said their program will make the U.K. the largest user of smart meters in the world and called the switchover the “the greatest revolution in energy use” since British Gas converted all the nation’s homes to natural gas in the 1970s.

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