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Southern California Edison customers will be able to check electricity usage online

July 12, 2010 |  7:39 pm

Southern California Edison Co. installed its 1 millionth smart meter at a Redondo Beach home on Monday. The device will allow Edison customers to check electricity usage online. Credit: Southern California Edison.
When you get your pricier-than-normal monthly utility bill, did you ever wish there was a way to monitor your energy usage on a daily basis? Or a way to know when to think twice about cranking up your air conditioning on hot summer days?

For many Southern California Edison customers, that will be reality in a few months.

The utility company is rolling out its Edison SmartConnect program, through which customers -- both residential and business -- will be able to check their previous day's energy usage on their accounts online starting in October.

People will also receive alerts through e-mail or on their cellphones notifying them of peak usage days, and Edison will offer rebates for those who lower their energy use at that time.

Lynda Ziegler, senior vice president of customer service, said customers would also be able to set up a monthly budget online and receive alerts when nearing that amount.

"If you think about it today, you get your bill at the end of month and it's a certain amount and you really don’t know when or what you used," Ziegler said. "With the smart meters, you’ll be able to see the next day what you used."

Smart meters are two-way digital devices that enable the utility to receive wireless readings instead of having to physically visit the meter.

The company has been replacing traditional mechanical meters with the smart meters by district since September. It said it reached a milestone Monday by installing the 1 millionth smart meter, at the Redondo Beach home of Scott and Liz Keran.

"People don't even realize how much energy they use in a day," Liz Keran said. "This will help us manage our energy usage even better."

The utility plans to have smart meters installed for all 5 million of its customers by the end of 2012. By that time, customers should be able to see how much energy they're using in real time by buying and using various devices.

"In the meter is a computer chip that will send signals to a device in the home. You could get a display device on your kitchen counter or plug into your computer," Ziegler said. "Those are products we're testing right now."

-- Kristena Hansen