By Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal

Silicon Valley Power, the municipal electric utility for the city of Santa Clara, announced Tuesday it plans to begin offering smart meters with a Wi-Fi communications system to large business customers next year.

John Roukema, director of electric utility for the organization, said Silicon Valley Power has selected a product from Elster Solutions of Raleigh, N.C. The company has disributed 3.5 million smart meters to utilities nationwide.

Silicon Valley Power officials said the meters will allow them to read electrical meters without having to enter a customer's property, respond more quickly to power outages and give customers greater ability to monitor their energy consumption.

Installation of the devices for large businesses in 2011 is the leading edge of a three-year effort called SVP Meter Connect to roll out the smart meters to its 50,000 commercial and residential customers.

Testing is expected to continue this year prior to the initial rollout, as well as throughout the three-year installation period. The utility plans to begin notifying residential customers of its plans to replace mechanical electric meters with smart meters starting in 2012.

Silicon Valley Power officials said their electrical rates are generally 25 percent to 45 percent below that of neighboring cities.

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