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LONDON (Reuters) - First Utility started rolling out energy-efficient smart gas and power meters across Britain on Wednesday, becoming the first UK energy provider to do so, the independent utility company said.
"Households across the UK can now take advantage of the benefits that smart meters bring -- from increased visibility of their energy usage through to accurate bills," Chief Executive Mark Daeche said.
Smart meters -- which supply real-time energy usage data to the energy provider and customers -- are seen as the first step in developing a smart power grid to help balance the installation of intermittent renewable electricity generation.
With Britain planning to build a large number of wind farms over the next few years, the smart grid could help balance the network by switching off electrical devices during low wind or switch on during high winds, like charging electric cars overnight, to make use of the abundant energy.
The British government intends to install every home with a smart metre by 2020, although an independent YouGov poll commissioned by First Utility also showed 48 percent of UK customers wanted smart meters in the next 12 months.
Britain hopes to use energy efficient measures, including smart meters, as part of its plan to cut climate-warming carbon emissions by 34 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels.
First Utility is Britain's largest independent energy provider with around 45,000 customers, the company said.
The UK utility market is dominated by Scottish and Southern Energy, Centrica, RWE npower, EDF Energy, E.ON UK, and Iberdrola's Scottish Power.
Reporting by Kwok W. Wan; editing by Sue Thomas