Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) today announced it achieved a major customer milestone, having recently upgraded more than 9 million meters to SmartMeter technology. And now, with 93 percent of the SmartMeter installations complete across Northern and Central California, most of PG&E's customers have access to the energy- and cost-saving benefits of SmartMeters – ranging from faster detection and restoration of power outages to easy-to-use tools that can lower energy bills.

"SmartMeters are helping improve the customer experience," said Helen Burt, senior vice president and chief customer officer of PG&E. "In addition to detecting outages, our customers are telling us how SmartMeters are making their homes more energy efficient and helping to reduce their bills. That's always exciting to hear and we continue to encourage our customers to take advantage of SmartMeter usage data to help save energy and money."

As recently reported on PG&E Currents, Tom Lyons of San Jose is a self-described "energy detective" who enlisted his family to use information from the SmartMeter to reduce electric usage by about 20 percent. He started by tracking their daily and hourly electric usage on PG&E's MyEnergy website — www.pge.com/myenergy — which also compares their household energy usage to similar homes in the neighborhood.

Lyons determined that his washing machine was consuming too much energy, and replaced it with a more efficient model. He also switched from incandescent to compact fluorescent light bulbs.

While saving money was important, Lyons says he was more motivated to help the planet. Using the reports and tools on MyEnergy made it easy. "There really hasn't been any pain of change," said Lyons. "We didn't really have to give anything up to save some money."

With the new meters connected to the smart grid, customers have access to a wide range of energy- and cost-saving tools, including energy analysis, usage notifications and voluntary rate programs. Action on the customer's part isn't necessary to derive value from SmartMeter technology. PG&E can quickly confirm that a customer has power by pinging the SmartMeter, allowing PG&E to detect and restore outages faster. During the 2011-2012 storm season, PG&E began using this capability to better serve customers.