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

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Texas Utility Chooses Control4 for Smart Grid Deployment

September 1, 2009

Control4, a leading developer of Home Area Network (“HAN”) and consumer energy management solutions, today announced that it has been selected as the HAN provider for Texas-based utility Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative. Serving more than 65,000 members in 14 counties between Austin and Houston, Bluebonnet plans to begin integrating smart grid technology in its members’ homes and businesses by April 2010. Control4 will provide Bluebonnet members with its Energy Management System, which includes a powerful yet intuitive in-home display with a programmable smart thermostat that will give users the usage data and device control necessary to manage energy use and expenses.

Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative is a progressive utility looking to maximize member satisfaction and encourage efficient energy use through its Smart Grid investments,” said Will West,Chief Executive Officer of Control4. “Control4 is proud to support this important initiative by providing user friendly home energy management and usage data to empower Bluebonnet members to become active in the utility’s progressive energy conservation programs.”

Bluebonnet recently announced its application for a Department of Energy stimulus grant to fund a transformation of its entire business to a Smart Grid. To assist in that transformation, Bluebonnet sought a HAN partner to help provide engaging information and advice to the consumer that facilitates energy conservation and efficiency. Bluebonnet selected Control4 based on the platform’s functionality, expandability and capabilities as both an energy management and control system.   The company’s proven technology leadership (with over one million ZigBee devices shipped) and its established network of over 1,550 dealers for distribution and support were added factors in the utility’s decision.

“After an extensive search process that included several product demonstrations, Bluebonnet chose the Control4® Energy Management System for its ability to provide up-to-the-minute information about energy usage and price that our members can use to manage their monthly electric bill,” said Mark Rose, Bluebonnet CEO. “Control4’s EMS-100 combines an easy-to-use touch screen with a flexible and expandable system at a reasonable price. These features will enable Bluebonnet’s members to be better consumers of energy and help us achieve our cooperative goal of a 20 percent reduction in system load by 2020.”

The Control4 EMS-100 system will work in concert with Silver Spring smart meters and eMeter software, feeding vital information back to the utility and providing customers with up-to-the-minute information on outages, conservation events and price spikes. The Control4® system delivers energy usage data from various loads in the home, allowing homeowners to take action and manually turn off devices or program the system to do so during peak times and demand response. The entry-level system is composed of the EC100 Energy Controller, a five-inch intuitive in-home touch screen device that supplies consumers with updates on energy usage and costs, tips for saving money on energy bills, power alerts from the utility, and information on various loads and activity within the home. The system also includes a programmable thermostat that communicates with the Energy Controller for heating and cooling control of homes and businesses. In addition to energy management and control, the EMS-100 offers engaging lifestyle applications and features such as weather reports, traffic updates, stock quotes and podcasts. With the EMS-100, Bluebonnet members can be active participants in managing their energy usage and reducing their utility bills. From powering down lights to controlling shades, utility customers have access to additional ways to further reduce their energy costs.

Control4 recently announced $17.3 million in financing to fund a new business unit, Control4 Energy Systems, based in Silicon Valley, California. The company’s proven home operating system and HAN management technologies can improve operational efficiency for utilities while delivering exceptional features and benefits for the consumer. Control4 Energy Systems works with utilities, AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) Partners, dealers and retailers to bring easy-to-use energy management systems to homes and small businesses. 

For more information on Control4 Energy Systems, please visit www.control4.com.  For more information on Bluebonnet Electric, please visit www.bluebonnetelectric.coop.