The SmartCurrents initiative involves the development of electrical infrastructure to prepare for new technologies that will provide customers with electric service reliability, the distribution of smart appliances and ways to manage their energy consumption, the company said.

The DOE funding will be matched by the company and its technology partners, bringing the total investment to accelerate the program to nearly $170m.

During 2010 and 2011, Detroit Edison and MichCon will install 600,000 new smart meters in portions of Wayne, Oakland, Livingston, Lapeer, Ingham and Tuscola counties. These meters will serve as the technological backbone for the SmartCurrents program, according to the company.

DTE Energy already has piloted the meters in Grosse Ile, Harsen’s Island and in a portion of Bloomfield Township.

The company said that as the program implementation proceeds, every electric meter in Southeast Michigan will be replaced with solid state meters and every gas meter will be modified with an advanced metering module. Customers will be notified when meter changes are scheduled in their communities during the next several years.

The program will eliminate manual meter reading and provide remote monitoring of the electric distribution system, which will enable fast power outage detection and restoration. DTE Energy also will have the ability to connect meters remotely. The program also will enable customers to manage their bills by tracking their consumption and demand via the DTE Energy website.

The program is expected to result in the creation of 700 deployment and construction jobs for information technology contractors and overhead linemen, and 350 permanent supplier positions.

The SmartCurrents program, besides advanced metering technology, includes technologies that address electric distribution service and electric rates that incentivize off-peak electrical usage, web-based customer energy usage presentation and customer outage notification, according to the company.

As a result of the DOE funding, DTE Energy will have the opportunity to offer technology with in-home displays and thermostats to 5,000 customers, and make improvements to 11 substations and 55 circuits over the next two years in a pilot program, the company added.