California consumers will soon be able to pay utility bills with Apple Inc.'s iPhone, as part of a test announced last week by Tio Networks Corp.

The Vancouver bill-payment expediter said that Pacific Gas and Electric Co. expects to begin evaluating this summer its mobile payment application.

The San Francisco utility plans to accept credit cards and may accept debit cards, but it has not decided on card brands, said PG&E spokesman Joe Molica. Tio will charge customers $3.45 for each iPhone payment.

John Lewis, Tio's head of business development, said that PG&E has predicted that "100,000 customers will pay bills through their iPhones." PG&E has 15 million customers.

This is Tio's first venture into mobile payments, but Lewis said it is working on additional mobile bill-pay agreements, and is also developing apps for Research in Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry handsets and phones that use Google Inc.'s Android operating system.

The PG&E agreement is a departure for Tio, which is best known for offering expedited bill payments through kiosks in retail stores that accept only banknotes.

Lewis said the iPhone app and the kiosks serve two different markets. "A person who pays at the bill-payment kiosk may not even have a credit card," he said. "The iPhone app appeals to customers who are mobile and consider this a convenient way to pay."