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July 07, 2011

PG&E Announces Smart Grid Plan to Modernize Electric Grid across Northern and Central California



Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E (News - Alert)) announced its Smart Grid plan for modernizing its electric infrastructure to offer energy and cost savings to PG&E customers across Northern and Central California.

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Last year the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) had asked each of the state's investor-owned utilities to come out with their smart grid plans. PG&E's Smart Grid plan is in response to the CPUC requirement.

As per the smart grid vision, PG&E will set up modern projects that will leverage advanced communications, computing, sensing and control technologies. PG&E will integrate diverse technologies to improve service and reliability, lower customer costs and incorporate renewable energy onto the grid.

The utilities’ customers will gain from the Smart Grid in the coming years. Customers can lower energy bills by controlling energy use. As part of PG&E's plan to enable new consumer energy management capabilities, pricing signals will help customers save money by shifting their energy use to times of the day when energy prices are lower.

“We developed this plan with a clear focus on what our customers want and value,” said Christopher P. Johns, president of PG&E, in a statement. “Our plan is a new vision for providing customers with safe, clean, affordable and reliable service and promoting new growth opportunities for green jobs and businesses in California.”

Customers will gain from increased reliability of service, including faster outage detection and restoration. PG&E plans to deploy automated Smart Grid equipment on its distribution facilities to locate, isolate and help repair system faults.

The Smart Grid projects of PG&E will also support more widespread customer adoption of rooftop solar, as well as "smart charging" programs that encourage the use of zero-emission electric vehicles while helping protect the safety and reliability of the energy grid.

Earlier in April, PG&E was in the news when state regulators announced a proposal to force the company to provide detailed safety updates, including information about how the utility was prioritizing work on high–risk lines during the next four years.

This instruction came after the regulators found that the utility company is missing 8 percent of key safety records required for high–pressure lines coursing through the some of the state's most densely populated areas.


Rajani Baburajan is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Rajani's articles, please visit her columnist page.
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