Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) has provided an annual update to state regulators showing the utility's progress on its smart grid plan for modernizing the electric grid to deliver a host of reliability, energy and cost savings to customers.
The progress report covers projects within the utility's Smart Grid Deployment Plan submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in June 2011 describing new and ongoing efforts to modernize the electric system. By integrating a wide range of advanced communications, computing, sensing and control technologies on the electric grid in Northern and Central California, PG&E is upgrading the grid to deliver better service to customers.
The annual report provides updates on the rollout of PG&E's outage detection program, which can check individual meters to determine whether power has been restored during an outage; intelligent circuits, located in Fresno and Bakersfield, that help improve system-wide electric system reliability and significantly reduce the average length of an outage; and high-tech monitoring equipment on the transmission system to provide early warning of potential problems so grid operators can take corrective action before widespread outages occur.
"We've made progress in the last year making the electric grid that powers our homes and businesses more intelligent," said PG&E Smart Grid senior director Kevin Dasso. "This report shows our clear focus on safety, reliability and affordability, and on ensuring that projects deliver key customer benefits."
Green Button Connect: Simplifying Energy Management
Continuing progress on new smart grid benefits, PG&E released Green Button Connect today. Green Button was launched last fall as a way for customers to easily and securely download their energy data and send it to a third party app developer or use the data themselves to track their usage. Last week, IEE, an institute of the Edison Foundation, published a report, 'Green Button: One Year Later,' demonstrating the success of Green Button across the country.
PG&E is now testing Green Button Connect, aiming to give customers even greater control over their energy use by offering a simple, one-time authorization to automate the secure hand-off of the customer's energy data to the third-party energy app developer of their choosing. Previously, a customer would have to repeatedly download their electric usage and manually send it to a third party app developer, but now they can choose to automate that process.
The release of Green Button Connect created excitement in the developer community, drawing new apps from startups like PEV4Me, Leafully and Unplug Stuff, all of which have products that customers with electric SmartMeters™ can access starting today.
"We want it to be really easy and quick for customers to manage their energy use," said PG&E Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Karen Austin. "It should take a minute to securely share your data with a solar panel installation company, not 10 minutes."
PG&E will continue to roll out diverse smart grid technologies including Green Button Connect to improve service and reliability, lower customer costs and incorporate more renewable energy onto the grid.
In the future, as part of PG&E's plan to enable new customer energy management capabilities, different pricing programs will be introduced to give customers the opportunity to shift their energy use to times of the day when energy prices are lower and potentially save on their bills. PG&E's smart grid projects 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.