E.ON, one of the largest utilities in the United Kingdom, has chosen Elster for the first phase of its smart meter deployments.

The gas and electricity company will deploy up to 100,000 smart gas and electricity meters by the end of 2012 and up to 200,000 more in 2013.

E.ON has more than 5 million electricity and gas customers across the U.K., so for Elster, the two-year contract could be a promise of more to come as E.ON meets the U.K. government’s goal of having smart meters for all gas and electricity customers by 2020. E.ON has committed to one million smart meters by 2014.

The announcement comes just a few weeks after the U.K.’s Department of Energy and Climate Change released a series of documents regarding the smart meter rollout, covering everything from technical specifications for meters to who owns the data. 

Utilities in the U.K. had been waiting for clarification from the government before moving forward with smart meter plans, and now that there is that level of certainty in the market, contacts will continue to be announced throughout 2012. The government has mandated that meter installations begin starting in 2014, although many U.K. utilities are moving forward ahead of that deadline.

"We selected Elster on the strength of its modular platform architecture and ability to include and support end-to-end security that ensures privacy of consumer data. Elster is providing us with flexible smart gas and electricity meters as we further roll out an integrated solution to deliver the benefits of smart metering to our customers," said Don Leiper, director of new business at E.ON, said in a statement.

E.ON has already deployed more than 100,000 smart meters. "Our customers want smart meters and those who now have them are extremely pleased with the technology, in terms of putting [the customers] in control of their energy use and bringing an end to estimated bills," said Leiper.

In the U.K.’s competitive marketplace, offering unique services around the data from smart meters will be critical in coming years. For Elster, the contract could be a much bigger win if it expands beyond the first two-year contract.

But follow-up contracts are not guaranteed. Many utilities are using multiple meter vendors to meet installment deadlines. The large Spanish utility Iberdrola chose seven different meter makers for a million meter rollout, and Itron, which completed a 100,000-meter pilot, was not included amongst the seven.

E.ON will be installing Elster’s AS300P electric smart meters with modular communications hub and the BK-G4E gas smart meter.