SDG&E's "smart meter" program receives final state approval

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        SAN DIEGO, April 12, 2007– Today the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) gave San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) the green light to implement its “smart meter” technology project that will revolutionize how it delivers services to customers and how customers manage their energy usage. 

        The decision approves $572 million for the smart meter project from 2007 through 2011.  SDG&E plans to begin replacing an estimated 1.4 million electric meters with smart meters and retrofitting approximately 900,000 gas meters throughout its service territory beginning in 2008.

        “Smart meters will provide our customers with the technology tools necessary to help manage their energy usage and improve their energy efficiency,” said Debra L. Reed, president and chief executive officer of SDG&E.  “With this favorable decision, customers will now be empowered to make more informed energy choices which will ultimately help ease the strain on our system during times of high energy demand.”

        The decision also formally adopts an agreement with the CPUC’s Division of Ratepayer Advocates (DRA) and the Utility Consumers’ Action Network (UCAN).

        “With this agreement, the San Diego region is now positioned be one of the nation’s leaders in emerging energy technologies via a smarter electric distribution grid,” said Michael Shames, UCAN’s executive director.  “We plan to continue to work with SDG&E to achieve the full potential of this investment so that customers benefit directly.” 

        DRA and UCAN concurred that the smart meter program is an investment that will improve customer service by providing more information on energy usage, assisting in electric system outage detection and restoration, and transforming the meter-reading and other service processes.

        “The agreement significantly improves upon SDG&E’s original proposal, providing more features and more value for ratepayers.  Consumers will be able to go online or eventually use in-home devices to help them manage their energy usage,” said Dana Appling, director of the Division of Ratepayer Advocates.  “The smart meter program can now be considered a sound investment.”

        Smart meters allow two-way communication between the utility and a customer’s meter.  Smart meters will provide customers with detailed energy use data that can help them reduce their energy use and costs.  This information also can help residential customers earn a rebate for reducing energy use on peak usage days.  In addition, smart meters improve the detection of power outages, aid in outage restoration and can even provide improved customer services resulting from more detailed and timely information on individual energy use patterns.

        Wholesale electricity prices fluctuate widely throughout the day.  Smart-meter technology eventually will allow customers to know how much electricity costs when they use it.  Armed with this information, customers can choose to reduce their usage when prices are high and shift their use to times when prices are low, reducing overall system costs and easing the strain on the electric grid at critical times.  

        The program will reduce SDG&E’s operating costs, according to Reed.  These lower operational costs will come from a variety of efficiencies including deferring traditional capital expenditures on distribution facilities, eliminating manual meter reading, reducing unnecessary trips to a customer’s home to activate or shut off service, and detecting and restoring service more quickly after an outage.

        More information about the smart meter program is available at

        SDG&E currently serves 3.4 million consumers through 1.4 million electric meters and more than 830,000 natural gas meters.  The utility’s service area spans 4,100 square miles and serves customers in more than 125 communities from Southern Orange County to the Mexican border.  SDG&E is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE).  Sempra Energy, based in San Diego, is a Fortune 500 energy services holding company.  To learn more, go to