In the US, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has this month released a new report on the state's smart grid activities.The report 'Pursuant to Public Utilities' is an annual report analyzing CPUC's smart grid activities in 2015 including costs and benefits to ratepayers.

The report provides an overview of the commission’s California smart grid recommendations including plans and deployment of smart grid technology by the state’s investor-owned utilities (IOUs) in 2016.

California IOUs include the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Southern California Edison Company (SCE) and San Diego Gas and Electric Company (SDG&E).

According to the report, smart grid programmes implemented by the three utilities under the commission’s policies between July 2014 and June 2015 have resulted in around US$360m in benefits.

PG&E invested US$831m in smart grid projects including customer empowerment, transmission and distribution automation, cyber and physical operations, integrated and cross cutting systems, and asset management and operational efficiency to achieve US$19.6m in benefits.

SDG&E utilized US$115.3m to record US$123.8m in customer benefits while SCE recorded US$6.6m in operational, US$194.9m in reliability and US$13.6m in demand-response benefits after investing US$91m.

Developing the California smart grid

However, the report recommends increased investments in projects addressing demand response, electric vehicles, storage, integrated distribution energy resources, distribution resource plans and development of smart inverter functionality to further the California smart grid and its transition towards a low carbon grid.

In 2016, the CPUC says it will release a proposed decision in the Energy Storage Procurement Framework rule making, which will review results of the IOUs' 2014 Energy Storage Request for Offers (RFO) Solicitation and the IOUs will initiate their 2016 solicitation.

The IOUs will submit their first Demand Response Auction Mechanism deliverable for commission approval in the first half of 2016.

The CPUC expects four ongoing PG&E smart grid projects focusing on line sensors, voltage and reactive power optimisation, detection of distribution line outages, and short-term demand forecasting will be completed by the end of 2016.