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The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has directed the state's investor-owned utilities (IOUs) to begin making smart meters' built-in home area network (HAN) functionality and benefits accessible to customers on a consistent, statewide basis, and to enable a third-party market that allows customers to choose their own HAN devices to monitor their energy consumption.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric Co. have installed more than 10 million smart meters that are already pre-equipped with the HAN function.

A variety of HAN devices are being introduced by third-party manufacturers and are becoming available in the marketplace. Customers will be able to choose and buy their own device that communicates with their smart meter through a secure wireless link.

As part of the CPUC’s directive, the IOUs must revise their HAN implementation plans to ensure statewide consistency in HAN communication standards and deployment. According to the CPUC, this will encourage the development of a competitive, third-party retail market that allows consumers to choose and deploy their own HAN devices independent of the utilities.

By Dec. 15, the IOUs must begin educating their customers on the HAN functionality available on their smart meters and how to use it to manage electricity consumption.

By Jan. 15, 2013, the IOUs must begin accepting requests from customers to activate the HAN function on their smart meters and allow their in-home HAN monitoring device to obtain information on the household energy consumption measured by their smart meter at any instant.

Because this is an emerging technology, the IOUs will roll out the support for the HAN function gradually. In order to ensure statewide consistency, the IOUs have been directed to establish a common process for accepting customer requests and establish a common standard for communications between the HAN monitoring device and their smart meters.

“Our actions advance HAN device adoption by customers, which will be a very important step towards swiftly integrating the smart grid with new technologies so consumers and businesses can effectively monitor energy programs such as demand response, energy efficiency, carbon footprint, Internet access and appliance energy use,” explains CPUC Commissioner Timothy Alan Simon. “I believe that the activation and adoption of a HAN program will establish important strides towards a smarter electricity distribution grid.”


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