sanfran

San Francisco, CA, USA --- (METERING.COM) --- July 22, 2006 – The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) smart meter program.

The program, which is to cost US$1.7 billion, will involve the installation of 9.3 million smart meter devices for its 5.1 million electricity and 4.2 million gas customers over the next 5 years.

The PUC also approved a proposal from PG&E for voluntary critical peak pricing programs for its residential, small commercial and industrial customers (under 200 kW). The CPP programs, expected to be available in early 2007, are intended to encourage customers to reduce their electricity usage during peak demand periods, when the cost of providing the electricity is also higher.

In a statement PG&E’s president and CEO Tom King, described the program as “one of the cornerstones of a sweeping effort to take a dramatic leap forward in the way we deliver service to our customers.”

Based on the projected installation cost PG&E is to seek slight rate increases. For the average residential customer with both gas and electric service these are expected to be between 49 to 99 cents per month for the first five years, or about 1 percent, and decreasing each year afterward.

Commenting on the ruling, PUC president Michael R. Peevey said: “In California’s Energy Action Plan, demand response, along with energy efficiency, is the state’s preferred means of meeting growing energy needs. PG&E’s AMI project is another example of our collective efforts to further the goals we set in the Energy Action plan.”

Demand Response and Advanced Metering Coalition (DRAM) executive director Dan Delurey, praised the action. Referring to the heightened energy demand due to soaring temperatures in recent days, he added: “The order sends the right signal at the right time to policy makers, utilities and other stakeholders.”

The rollout, which is claimed to be the largest so far in the US, will commence this autumn in the city of Bakersfield, 200 km north of Los Angeles, and will finish system-wide in 2011.