At a customer’s home in Bakersfield, California, November 17, leaders from Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and the California Public Utilities Commission celebrated the installation of PG&E’s first SmartMeter, kicking off a five-year program to deploy 10.3 million new meters throughout the utility’s service area. The SmartMeter program will eventually offer a wide range of customer service benefits while reducing utility costs and giving customers more options to save on energy bills. PG&E is investing $1.7 billion in the new high-tech meters and utility electricians may soon be called on to install them.

“This technology will eventually give PG&E new rapid response capabilities to restore service following an outage as well as enhanced abilities to assist customers when they phone our call centers,” said Peter Darbee, PG&E Corp. chairman, CEO and president.

Starting in summer 2007, PG&E’s SmartMeter meters will be read remotely. Within one to two months of getting the new meters, customers will no longer need to unlock gates, tie up dogs or make special arrangements to allow meter readers access to tough-to-reach meters. Customers will also have online access to daily information about their energy use, allowing them to make more informed energy-use decisions.

In 2008, SmartMeter technology will continually read circuits so that within minutes of a power outage, PG&E can pinpoint the outage scope and location. This will allow dispatchers to send crews directly to suspected trouble spots, in contrast to crews sometimes having to patrol entire circuits until problems are located.

The electric SmartMeter device is virtually identical in size and appearance to existing electric meters.

For more information, visit the PG&E’s press room at www.pge.com/news.       EC