March 10, 2010 – Commissioner Nancy Ryan of the California Public Utilities Commission. Ryan told the “Metering America” conference that utility rates based on time-of-day pricing related to the cost of producing electricity must be coupled with extensive customer communications and education campaigns, or the effort to align consumers and true market costs will be wasted. Ryan says it’s “imperative that the installation of smart grids and smart meters be seen as something done for customers and not something done to customers.”
In California, the big three investor-owned utilities are in the process of deploying 12 million smart meters, covering about 80 percent of the state’s population at an estimated cost of $4.5 billion,
Anne Shen Smith, senior vice president for customer services for San Diego Gas & Electric is on schedule to complete installation of 1.4 million electric smart meters and 850,000 gas smart meters in its service area by the end of 2011 at an estimated cost of $600 million. SDG&E also is deploying its smart meters before technical standards have been set. “We just can’t wait for the perfect technology to happen,” SDG&E’s Smith told the audience. She says smart meters “have to have flexibility, so we can incorporate new technologies as we go.” Smith says it is imperative for the industry to continue development of smart meters as “a software-driven technology platform—so the smart meter itself can be updated remotely as we move forward over time.” Updating the smart meter’s hardware would be a costly proposition that utilities want to avoid. Meanwhile, The California utilities commission has been working to establish smart meter standards with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, the U.S. Department of Energy, and other agencies.