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Portland General Electric Co. (PGE) will begin rolling out more than 800,000 smart meters across its 4,000 square-mile service area after successfully completing its smart-metering systems testing program.

The next-generation electrical meters, which will be read remotely by PGE, will help the utility and its customers manage energy use, as well as enhance customer service and reduce operating expenses.

PGE began installing smart meters last year in selected test neighborhoods - urban and rural - before rolling them out territory-wide. The rest of the smart meters will be installed in an 18-month process slated for completion by late 2010.

The new meters will provide PGE with two-way communications to its residential and commercial meters, enabling the following customer benefits:

- PGE anticipates millions in operational cost savings per year once the system is fully up and running, saving customers at least $34 million (net present value) over the next 20 years;

- Fewer meter-reading vehicles will eliminate 1.2 million miles of driving, save 80,000 gallons of gasoline and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5 million pounds every year;

- Within the next year, customers with smart meters will be able to access detailed information online or via customer service about their power consumption, allowing them to see how their activities affect power usage and develop strategies to use energy wisely; and

- The new system is also expected to support the future development of such programs as demand response and direct load control programs.

The capital cost of the project is expected to between $130 million and $135 million.

SOURCE: Portland General Electric Co.

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