San Diego Gas & Electric Rules The Smart Grid

Who rules the smart grid? San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) rules the smart grid. This according to Power magazine, which recently awarded the Southern California utility its 2012 POWER Smart Grid Award in recognition of launching what it termed “one of the most ambitious and comprehensive smart grid deployment programs in the nation.”

The utility made headlines last year for its renewable energy power purchase agreement (PPA) spree, ramping up its renewable energy portfolio in preparation for meeting the state of California’s 33 percent mandate by the year 2020. With renewable energy, however, comes the challenge of balancing intermittent energy generation with the continuous power demands of the grid, and this — along with the need to increase energy efficiency across the board — has spurred SDG&E’s advanced smart grid development.

smart meter_shutterstock

image via Shutterstock

The Power article recognized SDG&E for its efforts to implement an operational smart grid across its entire service territory, describing in detail the many programs that comprise the utility’s ambitious smart grid deployment plan. This plan calls for an investment of $3.5 billion from 2006 through 2020, with expected benefits for California tax-payers in the neighborhood of $3.8 and $7.1 billion.

The cornerstone of this deployment plan is SDG&E’s smart metering program, with has seen the deployment of 1.4 million smart meters and upgrades to about 850,000 gas meters across the utility’s service territory.  These meters are the key to the utility’s other efficiency programs, which include the Green Button, a new online tool that provides customers with easy access of to up to 13 months of detailed energy consumption data.

Smart meters also comprise the technological backbone of SDG&E’s recently launched “Reduce Your Use” campaign, which offers residential and small business customers monetary incentives for reducing their energy use during critical peak use periods. While helping customers save some cash, this program is expected to help alleviate this summer’s energy shortage due to the safety outage at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

More information on Power’s Award-Winning Plants and Smart Grids Project is available online.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.