SCE files positive financial smart meter plan


Paul De Martini,
Director of Smart
Meter Program,
Southern California
Rosemead, CA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — August 1, 2007 – Southern California Edison (SCE) has filed a positive business case in its application to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for approval of its Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) deployment activities and cost recovery mechanism.

In this Phase III of the Edison SmartConnect project, SCE proposes to install approximately 5.3 million state-of-the-art “smart” meters in every household and business under 200 kW throughout its service territory over a five-year period beginning in 2008.

SCE estimates that the deployment cost will be approximately $1,967 million, including $384.2 million in O&M and $1,330.7 million in capital expenditures in the period through 2012. However, the benefits are estimated at $2,076 million, comprising $1,235 million in operational benefits, $376 million from demand response programs and $465 million from dynamic rate offerings. This then amounts to a net benefit of $109 million over the life of the project.

SCE attributes this positive business case – which also provides a net benefit of approximately $1 billion more than previous AMI business case analysis from 2005 – to its collaborative approach with the AMI vendor community and international utility industry to spur development of AMI solutions with the additional functionality and capabilities needed to reduce costs and add benefits of a full AMI deployment.

The resultant Edison SmartConnect includes meter and communication functionality that (i) measures interval electricity usage and voltage; (ii) supports non proprietary, open standard communication interfaces with technology such as programmable communicating thermostats and device switches; (iii) improves reliability through remote outage detection at customer premises; (iv) improves service and reduces costs by remote service activation; (v) is capable of remote upgrades; (vi) is compatible with broadband over powerline use by third parties; (vii) supports contract gas and water meter reads; and (viii) incorporates industry-leading security capabilities.

In its filing SCE notes that these functionalities far exceed the CPUC’s six functionality requirements to provide a powerful tool to support federal and state energy policy objectives.

SCE also estimates that through reliability and price responsive load control and other demand response programs, the potential for peak demand reduction is as much as 1,000 MW, equivalent to the output of a large power plant.

SCE has requested that the application be approved by June 2008 to enable it to start full system deployment in January 2009. Approximately 1.4 million meters are expected to be deployed by the end of 2009, rising to 3 million by the end of 2010, 4.6 million by the end of 2011 and the full 5.3 million by the end of 2012.

In a statement Paul De Martini, director of SCE’s smart meter program, said that one of the top objectives for Edison SmartConnect had been achieved. “Vendors have developed a future proof device for our customers. We requested and vendors delivered a technology platform that can be upgraded and reprogrammed as needed well into the future, avoiding premature obsolescence and replacement costs.”

SCE has also announced the first vendors selected in its competitive solicitation process for the Edison SmartConnect program. eMeter has been selected to provide the meter data management system and Corix Utilities will provide meter installation services, for which it will hire, train and manage a deployment staff of approximately 150 union meter installers. IBM serves as the system integrator for Edison SmartConnect, managing the development and integration for the network management and meter data management systems.