Which Utilties are Leading Smart Grid Development?

September 30, 2009

Rick Nicholson and H. Christine Richards of IDC Energy Insights published an article in the July/August edition of Intelligent Utility detailing their assessment of which utilities are leading the pack towards a Smart Grid.

 Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), Austin Energy, Edison International (NYSE: EIX), Oncor, PG&E Corporation (NYSE: PCG) and CenterPoint Energy (NYSE: CNP), all of whom are based in either California or Texas, top the list of utilitites leading the way. I personally thinked they missed Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative (who is working with Caster client Control4)who aren’t just at the forefront of grid transformation but also leading the charge in consumer Smart Grid education.

Locally, National Grid (LSE:NG;NYSE:NGG), the nation’s second-largest utility, has applied to the U.S. Department of Energy for $200 million in stimulus funding to develop an “end-to-end” smart grid deployment that will include approximately 200,000 customers in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

According to National Grid, the project will demonstrate the benefits of combining “smart” and “green” technologies from end-to-end (transmission to consumer) including demonstrations of clean energy technologies such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and solar and wind power as well as energy storage technology. The result will be one of the most technologically advanced smart grid deployments in the U.S. This initiative will provide an increased understanding of the interface between the next generation of green energy supply and the smart grid to pave the way for the broader roll out of these technologies in the states where National Grid operates.

Regardless of whether they get the grant money or not, I hope National Grid stays in the game; they have a chance to lead this initiative and really make a difference.

posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter: newscaster

Become a Fan of Paradigm on Facebook, Win a Cinema CT System

September 29, 2009

Paradigm Electronics, an international leader in speaker design wants YOU to be their friend on Facebook.

If you are on Facebook click here to find Paradigm’s page. Sign up as a friend of Paradigm and every thirty days, starting October 15th, they will choose a random “Friend” to win one of 6 Paradigm Cinema CT systems. If you are already a friend of Paradigm, you’re already in the draw!  You have six chances to win – and all you have to do is become a fan.

The Cinema CT systems are Paradigm’s most affordable complete and compact speaker systems to date and feature the company’s award-winning Monitor Series technology (the company’s affordable high-end line of speakers). With the Cinema™ CT line, Paradigm delivers real audiophile quality sound – at modest prices.

Cinema110CTWhile you’re there, why not become a fan of Caster Communications on Facebook as well?  We have less than 30 fans people.  This is a sad state.  Help us!

Going Green Shouldn’t be about the Green

September 28, 2009

As a public relations agency, we are responsible for portraying our clients’ stories and news in the best light. Every person in this industry has at one time or another used fluff, superlatives and excessive adjectives to promote products and companies. However, there is a fine line that PR professionals must teeter, but never cross when it comes to doing this job.

We’ve all heard of the term greenwashing. With the boom of “green” products it was only inevitable that every Tom, Dick and Harry would want to jump on the bandwagon. But a word of caution to every company who believes they have something to offer in the green space: do it for the right reasons (and no, increasing profits isn’t the right reason).  

I recently read this great article on Newsweek, “It Ain’t Easy Being Green”. The editor focuses on hotel chains that claim to be green by not changing towels and sheets everyday to reduce the amount of water and energy demands the hotel requires to run their washers. It’s a novel idea, however this tactic has some strong implications that the root of going green comes down to just that…the green. It’s no surprise that in these economic times companies are looking for ways to cut costs. But many are starting to cut costs and claim that they are going green. Do you ever wonder where the money the hotel is saving by not washing your towels everyday goes to? If you guess into their bottom line, ding ding, you’re correct. I have no problems with companies taking these measures to save resources, however I have a problem when companies claim they are being green, but what they really mean is they are saving green.

Going green means a company is taking the proper steps to ensure that ALL pieces of their business are reducing its environmental impact, not just the ones that will save them money. Going green costs money, especially in the short term. In looking at Newsweek’s recent “Greenest Big Companies in America”, the top big businesses that have gone green are doing it the right way. These companies are changing the way it does business, and looking at everything from operating costs to materials used and production, and finding how to do it with less of an impact on our environment.

Companies understand that offering green products is going to become a necessity. When promoting these products, make sure that it isn’t just a ploy to jump on the bandwagon, but that the company has a serious investment in doing what is right for the environment, not just the bottom line. You have to cover all of your bases when putting this product to market, otherwise you will take the wrath. “Green” forums, blogs and media are ruthless. If there are inconsistencies in your story or product, they will find them, and they will call you out – as they should.

When rolling out green products or green initiatives, make sure you do your homework. And read Katie’s Tips to Avoid Greenwashing on the basics of what to do and what not to do when promoting a “green”

Posted by: Lauren

PR Nightmares (?): The Curious Case of Sean Salisbury

September 25, 2009

Is Sean Salisbury crazy, or crazy like a fox?

The answer could lie in a question many of you might be asking right now: “Who the heck is Sean Salisbury?”

Salisbury was a middling pro quarterback who logged 10 largely forgotten years in the NFL and CFL from 1987 to 1996. Subsequently, he became a middling in-studio football analyst for ESPN, building a largely forgotten broadcasting career at the network that came to an abrupt halt in 2008. Although Salisbury claimed the decision to leave was his because he felt he wasn’t being paid his due, rumors flew that one of the reasons that led to his departure was a suspension for showing a cell-phone picture of his most private of areas to several women. Salisbury denies, and continues to deny, that allegation, but the blogosphere, which has followed this story as if it were the Watergate tapes, is not inclined to believe him.

Salisbury bounced around after leaving his ESPN, turning up on a Dallas radio station, where he was recently fired for what some suspect was more alleged shady behavior. Salisbury again claimed innocence.

Sean_Salisbury_200x200Now Salisbury is on the legal attack. But although he claims to have hired a high-powered lawyer and a high-powered PR firm to help him take down his enemies and restore his tattered reputation (while he claims to be writing a book that will reveal secrets that will take several ESPN personalities down, which would seem to open him up to charges of contradiction), you have to wonder about what is really going on.

The question is, what high-powered lawyer or PR firm would ever allow a client to send a flood of barely literate, threatening and ultimately incredibly loopy iPhone messages to prominent sports blog Deadspin, which has breathlessly and snarkily reported Salisbury’s strange career arc for years now?

Here’s the thing: Salisbury knew Deadspin would post his messages. In fact, as you can see in his correspondence, he practically goads them to do so. So is this an incredibly disturbed individual, or is this really a viral marketing campaign for Sean Salisbury 2.0, the fantastically unhinged sports broadcasting personality? Is Sean Salisbury on a campaign to become the Glenn Beck of sports?

Is this a PR nightmare or PR genius? Only time (and presumably much more poor grammar, spelling and sentence structure) will tell.

We’ll have a good idea if he’s ever pitching iPhones.

Posted by Joe Paone

Control4 Showcases Energy Management System at Autovation

September 24, 2009

Control4 demoed the Control4 Energy Management System (EMS) 100 at Autovation 2009. The EMS 100 combines the functionality of a home area network controller with demand response support, with a wireless thermostat and energy management software to provide utilities a cost effective, flexible, home area network solution for their smart grid deployments.   Leveraging award winning Control4® Home Automation product technology, the EMS 100 is the only home energy management solution that delivers customer usage data via the smart meter and a standard’s based, secure platform that can control virtually every device in the home.

“Our products support today’s regulatory requirements to proactively engage the residential consumer by delivering data via the smart grid to facilitate energy efficiency.  But the ability to control devices in the home, particularly during peak load and demand response events, is the key component to energy management that only Control4 provides, ” said Will West, Control4’s CEO. “By providing an easy-to-use, engaging consumer experience that’s coupled with automated device control, utilities can help their customers play a far more active role in managing energy use, which will contribute to generation and distribution efficiencies.”

The system aggregates energy usage data from various loads and presents the information in an intuitive display so that customers can make changes in their home to reduce energy usage or set up their in-home device to automatically do it for them. The EMS 100 serves as a valuable communications tool, providing utilities an efficient means to alert customers of demand response events and send signals directly to devices in the home during peak times.

The EMS 100 solution features the following:

  • The Control4® Energy Controller EC-100 5-inch color touch screen display – The EC-100 delivers usage data and energy costs for the home and the ability for the customer to take such actions as powering down lights or adjusting shades to reduce energy use.
  • The WT-100 Thermostat – A simple, elegant, ZigBee-based programmable wireless thermostat that connects directly to the EC-100 for total control of heating and cooling throughout the home.  Programming the WT-100 thermostat is managed through the EC-100 display.
  • Control4® Network Management Software – Control4® Network Management Software enables the monitoring, optimization and reporting of all deployed energy controllers.  The network management tools provide cost effective Tier 1 technical support and remote diagnostic capabilities.
  • Control4® ECO Software – Control4® Energy Consumption Optimizer (ECO) Software collects, analyzes and compresses energy use and behavior data on the EC-100, then communicates with the utility’s load management software to treat demand response events as a dispatchable resource.  
  • Control4® platform – The standards-based, secure Control4® software platform is based on industry standards of embedded Linux and Adobe Flash Lite.  The platform is secured through ZigBee SE, SSL, and OpenSSH technology.  The platform is extensible, allowing third parties to develop new applications, providing enhanced functionality to the system over time. For example, utilities can develop their own applications such as the monitoring of gas and water or a home’s carbon dioxide output.
  • Control4 Automation & Control — Using ZigBee, Wi-Fi and Ethernet standards, Control4’s solutions give homeowners the ability to control and automate their thermostats, lights, spa or pool, sprinklers and more, to manage power usage with one easy to use interface.

Paradigm Unleashes a Perfect Storm of Sound at CEDIA EXPO 2009

September 23, 2009

Paradigm Electronics, an international leader in speaker design and manufacturing is bringing some serious sound to the show floor at CEDIA EXPO 2009.  With a new version of its award-winning Reference Signature Series, a new hybrid breed of speakers that’s borrowed the best from the Monitor and Reference Studio and a sonic bulldog of a subwoofer.  Paradigm is also announcing its famous Perfect Bass Kit (PBK-1™) Room Correction System for every subwoofer in the Paradigm® collection. 

SE Series (Special Edition Collection)

  • Combining elements from the affordable audiophile-quality Paradigm line and higher-end Paradigm Reference line, the SE series speakers brings a new generation of affordable elegance to the company’s vast offerings.  Including the SE1 (bookshelf), SE3 (floorstanding), SE Sub and SE Center, the SE line will boast Paradigm’s SuperDrive technology, which combines very high efficiency with very high output and ultra-low distortion. The drivers represent a best of breed hybrid mix that includes high frequency drivers from the Paradigm Monitor Series and mineral-filled polypropylene bass/midrange drivers handed down right from the Paradigm Reference Studio Series. 

Reference Signature Series v.3

  • Third version of its flagship Paradigm® Reference Signature Series. Thousands of “no-holds-barred” Paradigm research and engineering hours went into developing the Signature Series v.3 speakers, which are the highest-output, most dynamic high-end loudspeakers ever produced.

Reference Seismic 110

  • The Reference Seismic 110 is a state-of the-art subwoofer in a diminutive form factor with every component designed specifically for this application. 
  • While designed to meet today’s demand for a small form factor in a subwoofer, don’t be fooled by the Seismic110’s diminutive proportions. It offers truly groundbreaking (and ground shaking!) performance. The soul of this little sonic bulldog is a unique implementation of the ultra-low-distortion split-coil drive woofer coupled with the muscle of an 850-watt RMS UltraClass D amplifier 

Perfect Bass Kit (PBK-1™) Upgrade

  • Paradigm is thrilled to announce the availability of the Perfect Bass Kit (PBK-1™) Room Correction System for every subwoofer in the Paradigm® collection. With PBK, the effects of room boundaries on bass quality are a thing of the past. This state-of-the-art bass perfecting system will analyze your favorite Paradigm subwoofer’s response in your room, and then set the correct equalization parameters to obtain optimal sound.


  • Anthem will be showcasing a turn-key solution for dealers that includes the powerful 50v/D2v processor and the highly anticipated BLX 200 Blu-ray player with Paradigm speakers supporting the audio.  Stop by for a ground shaking demo!

To see the above products live in action, stop by the Paradigm & Anthem booth 3325 in Hall C and say hello!

For more information, press releases and images, visit the Paradigm press page.

Runco Launches LED projectors

September 22, 2009

On September 9th Runco (www.runco.com) unveiled the company’s new QuantumColor™ Q-750i and Q-750d projectors. Runco, the leading manufacturer of luxury video display solutions, has shaped the home theater projector market for the past 20 years. Now, the company has changed the landscape of custom home theater projection yet again with its QuantumColor Series.

Runco’s QuantumColor series pairs game-changing, energy-saving LED technology with proprietary Runco engineering feats to create unsurpassed performance and unrivaled customization.

Key features and proprietary technology include:

  • Runco’s revolutionary lampless InfiniLight™ LED illumination technology
  • Never-before-seen color gamut and Runco’s Personal Color Equalizer™ proprietary color management
  • Exclusive Runco SmartColor™ hue compensation curve and gamut mapping for accurate flesh tones
  • Next-generation all-digital internal and external video processor/controller
  • Uses 70% less power than lamp-based projection with Runco InstantOn™, eliminating the need to leave projector in power-consuming “standby” mode

Check out all of Runco’s new product announcements at www.castercomm.com/runco, including:


  • Runco’s three new LightStyle™ Series projectors – Featuring breakthrough video performance and pricing
  • New Video Xtreme VX-33i, VX-33d, VX-3000i, VX-3000d and VX-3000d Ultra projectors – Each brings Xtreme DLP projection to the ultimate level for exceptional home theaters.
  • Runco’s FIVE new Crystal Portfolio™ LCDs – Featuring five new LCD Displays with three new screen sizes: CX-42HD; CX-OPAL42; CX-55HD; CX-OPAL55 and CX-OPAL65.
  • Runco’s new, next generation Digital High-Definition (DHD 3) external video processor controller