Itron has been quiet about what, if anything, it plans to do to connect its smart grid networks to the home energy management platforms and home area networks (HAN) devices of the future. Given the frothy and still-nascent state of the home energy technology market, that’s probably a good thing.
That doesn’t mean the Liberty Lake, Wash.-based smart meter giant hasn’t been experimenting on home energy management with various partners, of course. It and smart meter competitors like Sensus, Elster, General Electric and Toshiba’s Landis+Gyr are piloting various meter-to-home energy monitoring and control systems. Itron’s consumer engagement partner list includes Comverge, Digi International, EnergyHub, SentinelWorks and Tendril, to name a few well-known companies in the field.
Now you can add two more to the list. One is C3, the high-profile energy management software startup founded by Siebel Systems billionaire Tom Siebel. C3 and Itron announced this week that they’re jointly marketing a utility IT package that includes Itron’s advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and meter data management (MDM) platforms and C3’s cloud-based energy efficiency and customer engagement software platforms.
Itron and C3 have already been working together for some time at utilities including Detroit Edison, Southern California Edison, Commonwealth Edison and Entergy, Sharelynn Moore, Itron’s vice president of corporate communications, said in a Tuesday interview. It’s an interesting set of additions to C3’s utility customer list -- the Redwood City, Calif.-based startup, for its part, has stayed relatively quiet about its work with utilities, beyond announcing a project with Pacific Gas & Electric last year. Other customers include GE Energy, SAIC, Hewlett Packard, Constellation New Energy and Masdar City.
On the home front, C3 bought Efficiency 2.0, a startup that offers utility customers free coupons and other gifts in exchange for participating in efficiency programs and reducing energy use, in May. Since then, C3 has built the startup’s technology into a residential energy management and customer engagement product, which integrates with C3’s SaaS-based platform for commercial and industrial energy management as well, CTO Ed Abbo said at Greentech Media’s Soft Grid conference in August.
Itron, in turn, can offer C3 access to raw meter data, as well as Itron’s data management and analytics capabilities, Moore said. That can include projects where utilities are using Itron meters, as in Southern California Edison, or where Itron’s MDMS is connecting to other vendors’ meters, as in ComEd’s Chicago territory, she said.
The two haven’t announced any specific projects yet, but Moore noted that the C3-Itron platform is suited for small and medium-size business customers, as well as residential customers. California’s big three utilities face a mandate to start offering their business customers time-of-use rates and other smart meter-enabled features in the coming years.
Meanwhile, over in Europe, Itron just launched a set of smart grid “ecosystems,” or ready-to-deploy technology integration packages under the name Nexergy, that include a German home energy startup as a partner.
GreenCom Networks is its name, and according to Jean-Paul Piques, senior marketing director for Itron in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), it’s working with Itron on a number of small-scale consumer pilots in Europe. Itron is also an investor in the startup, he said, though he declined to provide more details.
GreenCom’s technology is underlying Itron’s “Nexergy P2H” consumer engagement ecosystem, which Piques described as a more high-end home energy engagement and control platform. The startup won an “excellence award” at the CleanEquity Monaco 2012 conference this year, and lists Deutsche Telekom, “smart grid-ready” heat pump maker Innasol and grid SCADA/EMS vendor PSI AG as customers as well.
Itron’s other Nexergy product lines include the SPS platform for managing utility billing programs such as pre-pay, as well as three flavors of communications technology -- point to point, point to multipoint and powerline carrier -- aimed at satisfying Europe’s complex and still-evolving national smart metering plans.
Interestingly enough, Itron’s powerline carrier (PLC) plans in Europe also include long-time partner Cisco, Piques said. Cisco is working on a PLC technology known as G3-PLC, along with such industry players as Itron, Landis+Gyr, and a host of semiconductor companies, and Itron hopes to use it in European markets, he said. PLC hasn’t taken off in North America, but it’s far more common in Europe and is expected to play a role in such emerging markets as China as well.