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California’s big utilities are getting more specific about their smart grid plans. Today is the deadline for Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric to turn in documents describing just what they want to do on the smart grid front between now and 2020, complete with estimates of the 10-year capital investment plans and costs to be borne by their customers, as well as what they payback will be. PG&E filed its 280-page plan yesterday, and the plans are big — $800 million to $1.25 billion in capital investments and $500 million to $700 million in operating costs over the next 10 years. Of course, that’s meant to deliver $900 million to $2 billion in lower energy purchasing costs, avoided costs of not having to build new power plans, grid reliability improvements and the like. SDG&E’s plan, filed June 6 (PDF), sets a 2006-2020 smart grid cost of $3.6 billion, with a resulting benefit of $3.8 to $7.1 billion, including a potential “societal and environmental” benefit of as much as $1.9 billion ascribed in part to the advanced grid systems that will let it incorporate the 33-percent intermittent, renewable energy generation that state mandates require it and other major state utilities to have in their power mix by 2020. No doubt the smart grid industry is looking carefully at these cutting-edge utilities to see how the new plans change the expected flow of investment to various technologies. Will smart meters see a diminished emphasis? Will distribution automation, renewable energy integration or energy storage see a big uptick in spending? I’ll be reading the full reports over the weekend to let you know what they say — stay tuned.