The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved Southern California Edison’s (SCE) initial development of a next-generation electric meter, the first of a potential three-phased program to investigate, test, and deploy an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) for SCE’s 4.6 million customers.
Business requirements, technology feasibility, and cost/benefit analyses will be performed during the 18-month first phase. SCE has assembled an engineering team comprised of IBM, EnerNex and KEMA to help with the first phase and is also seeking input from providers of AMI technology.
The second phase will focus on final development activities, including field testing advanced metering solutions. After successful completion of development and CPUC authorization, full deployment of the company’s AMI program could begin in late 2009. SCE estimates it could take about four years to replace current meters with advanced ones.
“We’re developing a system to take advantage of available technologies to better serve our customers over the long term,” said Lynda Ziegler, SCE vice president for customer programs and services. “We want a solution that won’t be obsolete in a matter of a few years.” An advanced metering infrastructure can reduce the costs of day-to-day utility operations, eliminate the need for employees to do work typically done manually in the field, provide real-time information on usage and pricing, communicate with “smart” devices such as thermostats and energy-management systems, continuously monitor service quality and distribution system performance, and provide customers with better information and service when they call with a problem.
“We want a meter that improves on the cost and performance of today’s solid-state meters,” said Paul De Martini, manager for SCE’s advanced metering program. “We want to be able to enable dynamic pricing and demand-response actions so that customers have more usage information, more pricing options, and more energy-management choices.”