Using data from \u201csmart\u201d meters and other inputs, Pacific Gas & Electric plans to invest over $100 million in a small number of pilot projects intended to increase grid reliability. The utility identified six out of a proposed 21 pilots in a Nov. 21 filing with the California Public Utilities Commission. PG&E expects to spend $109 million on the pilots, with $77 million of that subject to a rate of return that could reach 11.35 percent. If all the projects work as planned, the utility estimates up to $1 billion in avoided cost and improved system reliability by increasing efficiency of the state\u2019s distributed network. The pilots \u201cmay support enhanced public safety by identifying hard-to-detect high impedance fault conditions and advance California\u2019s progressive energy policy goals by supporting the interconnection of higher levels of distributed [solar],\u201d according to the utility. The filing gets a jump on the utility\u2019s 2014 general rate case. Getting through the regulatory process takes years. PG&E\u2019s plan includes strategies for improving the flow of power, including: -Installing line sensors for reducing outage response time. Instead of relying on customers to call in and report an outage, these devices would automatically notify the utility at the distribution feeder level; -Incorporating new algorithms for reactive power to improve voltages on distribution lines. This would incorporate information from digital meters to ameliorate voltage surges; -Using digital meter information, as well as input from relays and other sensors; -Using demand response to lower electrical use, with the pilot analyzing efficacy; and, -Assessing customer response to digital meters and the \u201csmart\u201d grid.