Southern California Edison (SCE) kicked off its $1.6 billion Edison SmartConnect programme in mid-September with the installation of the first of 5 million smart meters.

The smart meters, supplied by Itron Inc., include advanced features that enable the meters to communicate with the next generation of “smart” thermostats, appliances and other devices. The new meters allow remote activation of electric service at the customer’s convenience. New pricing plans, programmes and services will empower customers to make informed decisions about their energy use. Many of these advanced features and functionality will go into effect in the second half of 2010.

SCE anticipates customers’ use of the new meters will reduce demand on the electricity grid by about 1,000 MW. Sustained energy conservation resulting from customer response to their energy use information is also expected to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and smog-forming pollutants by a minimum of 365,000 metric tons per year – the equivalent of removing 79,000 cars from the road.

Smart meter installations began in Downey, CA, and will continue through 2012 for all SCE residential and small business customers in the utility’s 50,000 square mile service territory. Corix Utilities, Inc. has been contracted to perform most of the installations.

www.sce.com