San Diego Gas & Electric has released its plan outlining the utility's vision for the electric grid of the future. The plan provides a roadmap for how San Diego's electricity grid will develop over the next decade and empower SDG&E customers with the latest technology and service choices.

"Our Smart Grid Deployment Plan details how we will allocate energy resources more efficiently and deploy new technology to give our customers a much greater level of control over their energy usage," said James P. Avery, senior vice president of power supply for SDG&E. "The plan offers a framework for discussion of our region's energy future."

Since late 2010, SDG&E has met with more than 25 stakeholder groups in the areas of environment, academia, business, customer advocacy and government to better understand their priorities and preferences related to the smart grid. This included the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), UC San Diego Office of Strategic Energy Initiatives, San Diego State University Center for Energy Studies, Smart City San Diego, CleanTECH San Diego, California Center for Sustainable Energy, San Diego Workforce Partnership, Information and Privacy Commissioner of the province of Ontario, Canada, among others. Their input was reflected into the plan, and SDG&E encourages input from additional stakeholders as well.

"SDG&E has shown great leadership. It has engaged stakeholders to develop a plan that delivers what they want, including bill management tools, electric vehicles and the ability to use rooftop solar," said Lauren Navarro, director of state regulatory affairs for the EDF's Smart Grid Initiative. "While EDF has been helping SDG&E develop its plan, our goal is to guide all utilities on how they can deliver environmental and public health benefits to customers," added Navarro. "Our framework will evaluate all of their plans thoroughly and with equal rigor so that the best elements are adopted across the state and any weaknesses or gaps remedied."

In its plan, SDG&E emphasizes that the need for a smarter grid is being driven by customers. For example, a growing number of customers are installing rooftop solar-power systems on their homes, and San Diego has the highest number of installed residential systems of any city in California. The utility must be able to power the grid on cloudy or hazy days when solar power is unavailable or greatly diminished.

The region is also home to the greatest number of plug-in electric vehicles in the country, and will have significant growth in the coming months and years. The grid must be able to accommodate the power needs of these new vehicles.

Many customers said they want access to their energy usage information online. Smart meters – the foundation of the smart grid – allow access to this data. They provide customers with greater choice, convenience and control in how they access and use the information. All SDG&E residential customers have smart meters, and all business customers will have smart meters by the end of 2011.

"Customers are already buying the technologies that require a smart grid, so we can't wait to develop a grid that ensures we meet their needs," said Avery.

SDG&E's plan outlines smart grid developments in nine key areas: customer empowerment, renewable growth, electric vehicle growth, reliability and safety, security, operational efficiency, research, development and demonstration, integrated and cross-cutting systems, and workforce development.

In addition, SDG&E's plan will help achieve California's aggressive energy and environmental policy goals, including reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, using more renewable energy, and improving energy efficiency and demand response.