Smart grid development, minus setbacks like what recently happened in Maryland, is something states are considering as a way to help modernize aging electrical infrastructures. California is one such state, with its Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently unveiling a hefty plan to bring its electric grid into the 21st century.
The CPUC said it has outlined for large state utilities Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison what they will need to do to file smart grid deployment plans of their own by July 1, 2011. The goal of the commission is to modernize the system to allow for “two-way communications, sensors and control technologies,” which are key components of a smart grid. It believes that development of these grids will provide substantial benefits to consumers, enabling “the integration of higher levels of renewable energy, energy storage, and, eventually, electric vehicles, at a lower cost” to those being serviced.
This plan follows in the footsteps of legislation passed in California last year that calls for the modernization of the state’s electrical transmission and distribution system to “maintain safe, reliable, efficient, and secure electrical service, with infrastructure that can meet future growth in demand.” The CPUC’s action calls for the utilities’ smart grid ideas to “address how the plans will enable consumers to capture the benefits of a wide range of energy technologies and energy management products and services that may, or may not, be provided by the utility, while protecting consumers’ privacy,” meeting environmental policies enacted into law and promoting “innovation and competition among companies developing new products and services.”
“Moving to a Smart Grid will allow utilities to help customers save money by reducing their electricity demand, provide consumers with more control over their energy use and help deploy clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar around the state,” said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in a statement. “I applaud the Public Utilities Commission for taking action and working with utilities to update and modernize our electric grid.”