The contract value is approximately $1.4m and is structured to provide flexibility in adapting the scope of work, if necessary, to accommodate intermediate findings of the investigation. The CPUC is directly managing and funding the contract and has ordered PG&E to reimburse the commission for the expense of the contract.

In California, the CPUC authorized Southern California Edison to install approximately 5.3 million new smart meters, San Diego Gas and Electric approximately 1.4 million electric smart meters and 900,000 natural gas meters, and PG&E approximately five million electric meters and 4.2 million natural gas meters. As these smart meters have been rolled out, the CPUC has received just over 600 complaints, almost all from PG&E’s service area, the commission said.

Michael Peevey, president of CPUC, said: “Structure is a leading expert on smart meters and downstream billing processes and their personnel will have wide access to PG&E’s systems to conduct their investigation.”

The investigation will begin by focusing first on complaints from the San Joaquin Valley area, but will also evaluate the overall smart meter system, including sample testing of smart meters from other parts of PG&E’s service territory.

Structure will provide CPUC staff with weekly updates and interim preliminary reports that summarize the results of its evaluation at that time. The investigation is expected to be completed within four months although the timeframe may be shortened or lengthened depending on what Structure uncovers in the initial stages of the project, CPUC said.