Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) of California plans to deploy as many as 3.3 million GE meters equipped with SmartMeter technology to utility customers in northern and central California. These meters will help customers manage their energy consumption and costs, while helping the utility improve customer service. Overall, PG&E plans to deploy 10.3 million SmartMeter gas and electric meters by the end of 2011 to virtually all of its customers.

Most electricity customers currently pay one set price for electricity, even though the cost to produce electricity tends to be higher during peak hours and lower during off-peak hours. With "time of use" pricing, smart meter technologies may offer lower prices during off-peak periods, empowering participating consumers to better manage their consumption—and ultimately—how much they pay for electricity.

The GE meters will be equipped with Silver Spring Networks smart grid/advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) communications technology. This technology will enable two-way communications between the utility and the electricity customer, supporting renewable generation at the customer’s home, critical peak and time-of-use pricing and more.

By employing SmartMeter technology, PG&E will, in the future, be better able to detect and respond to power outages. In the United States, power outages and disruptions in the grid currently cost businesses $100 billion or more per year while disrupting the lives of consumers. According to EPRI, California experiences the greatest losses associated with power outages and disruptions, totaling $13.2-20.4 billion per year. That’s more than any other state.

Smart meters are also being deployed globally. The province of Victoria, Australia has mandated the deployment of AMI smart meters to all energy consumers to begin in 2009 and to be completed in 2013. Ontario, Canada, has mandated the deployment of smart meters by 2010.