San Jose, PG&E lift veil on major Smart Grid collaboration

Pacific Gas and Electric announced today that it’s partnering with the city of San Jose, Calif., to deploy a major project integrating smart meters provided by the utility with the city’s well-developed solar energy infrastructure.

PG&E has been gradually rolling out smart meters in its California service areas. Just like traditional meters, they record how much electricity a household or business is consuming in real time. Only now, they transmit the data they collect to both the utility and the consumer over wireless networks, eliminating the need for monthly meter readers and allowing energy users to keep track of how much they are spending on energy as they use it.

PG&E, which applied for $42.5 million in stimulus funding from the U.S. Department of Energy last month, says it will earmark some of the money it receives for the project in San Jose. The end goal of the collaboration is to equip 75,000 homes and commercial spaces in the area with smart meters, give PG&E control over more solar installations, and better manage grid loads to prevent brownouts and other disruptions.

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed announced the partnership during a press conference today, backed up by representatives from IBM and Cisco Systems, two Silicon Valley companies working hard to grow their involvement in the development of a cleaner, faster and more efficient electrical grid. In fact, IBM also today announced the release of its new SAFE software package, providing Smart Grid startups with the IT infrastructure they need to accelerate their progress.

It’s unclear how San Jose’s solar facilities will be folded into the project. Just yesterday, the San Jose Mercury News reported that six major buildings in the city are newly running on solar power, including several community centers, two fire stations and a library. As home to industry leader Nanosolar, the city has placed emphasis on that form of renewable energy. But companies and municipalities are only starting to look at how best to draw renewables into Smart Grid efforts, so it will be interesting to see how San Jose proceeds.

VentureBeat is hosting GreenBeat, the seminal executive conference on the Smart Grid, on Nov. 18-19, featuring keynotes from Nobel Prize winner Al Gore and Kleiner Perkins’ John Doerr. Get your early-bird tickets for $495 before Sept. 30 at

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