California utility’s AMI project questioned


SDG&E LogoSan Diego, CA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — January 23, 2007 – San Diego Gas & Electric’s AMI project – which involves the deployment of over 2 million smart electric and gas meters – has been questioned by ratepayer groups such as the Division of Ratepayer Advocates (DRA). These groups are suggesting that the installation of the smart meters could be a waste of money.

The utility originally filed figures based on a meter life of 34 years, with a cost of avoided capacity amounting to $85/kW per year. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has, however, ordered SDG&E to use alternative assumptions – in particular a life of 17 years for the meters, and an avoided capacity cost of $52/kW per year.

SDG&E has pointed out that these figures represent a worst-case scenario, and said it was not surprising that analysis using the revised assumptions revealed that the deployment would not be cost effective.

The DRA has recommended that SDG&E should consider the use of remote on/off switches, rather than relying on customers to sign up to demand response programs. It also suggests that the utility should use the ZigBee network communications solution, which it believes will be a more effective link between SDG&E and its customers.

Several utilities in the state have indicated their intention to deploy smart meters. Pacific Gas & Electric’s program has already been approved by the CPUC, while Southern California Edison’s proposal is under consideration. SDG&E officials have recently met with advisers to the CPUC to discuss ratepayer groups’ concerns and to try to move forward their plans for introducing smart metering.