Belfast Telegraph

British Gas Business to pay £4.5m for deadline failure in supplying new meters

British Gas Business is to pay the Carbon Trust £4.5 million for failing to meet a deadline to supply new meters to customers.

Some of the company's larger electricity business customers missed out on the advanced meters by the April 2014 deadline, meaning they did not receive improved information about their energy consumption and lost the opportunity to control costs.

Ofgem said British Gas would pay £4.5 million redress and had agreed to increased monitoring of its progress on installing the outstanding meters.

The Government's scheme to roll out advanced meters to businesses began in 2009 as part of a national project to modernise the energy sector.

British Gas Business had five years to fit the meters to around 43,000 customers as a legal requirement.

However, the regulator said the company did not take "all reasonable steps" to fulfil the roll-out, and extra steps it took in 2013 were too late to ensure that all eligible customers benefited from the new meters by the deadline.

Furthermore, it installed a small number of traditional meters instead of advanced meters.

The payment to the Carbon Trust will help businesses save energy though audits, advice, and energy efficiency measures, Ofgem said.

Martin Crouch, Ofgem senior partner with responsibility for enforcement, said: "British Gas Business failed to meet its mandatory deadline to install advanced meters leaving some larger business customers unable to benefit.

"The supplier has since taken further action to prioritise the rollout, improving its performance.

"This penalty sends out a clear message to the industry that suppliers must meet regulatory deadlines. Smart meters are being rolled out to smaller non-domestic customers and suppliers must learn their lesson ahead of delivering this programme."

British Gas Business managing director Gab Barbaro said: " British Gas Business made significant efforts to deliver advanced meters to its customers and installed more than 42,000 meters in businesses across the country ahead of the 2014 deadline.

"Since that date, we've continued to install advanced meters in thousands of our customers' businesses.

"We accept we could have done more to meet the deadline, and we remain absolutely committed to delivering them to our business customers. Customers who want an advanced meter can contact us.

"Our payment to the Carbon Trust will allow many businesses to access energy-saving expertise."