Aclara, a subsidiary of engineering company ESCO Technologies, is one of the top meter data management (MDM) and consumer engagement solution providers in the world. The company also has significant expertise in advanced metering infrastructure and utility networks, as operational efficiency solutions. The company was founded in 1997 and was acquired by ESCO in 2005. Aclara continues to be operated as a standalone company. It serves over 500 utilities in nine countries.
On the networking side of the business, Aclara is unusual in offering both powerline and RF mesh grid networking solutions. Aclara has a powerline data-capture platform called the Two-Way Automatic Communications System (TWACS), used to transmit data between electric meters and the utility. The company has also built out an RF mesh advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) network, called the Aclara STAR Network, using secure, licensed, long-range radio frequencies. Finally, Aclara offers a wide-area network (WAN) solution to connect diverse networks that a utility may have deployed, including AMI, DA, SCADA, HAN, workforce management, and substation automation.
On top of these networking solutions, the company offers a range of software products for applications such as meter data and AMI/meter device management, revenue management, distribution asset planning and analysis, customer care, and efficiency and demand management. Aclara has partnered with numerous major industry players, including GE, Oracle, Elster, Landis+Gyr, Infosys, Honeywell, and Itron.
Aclara is currently in production with Pennsylvania Power & Light to connect the utility’s 1.5 million customers, which includes hourly reads and bridging AMI data with customer billing, along with distribution planning and forecasting. Other recent news of note is that Mexico’s Federal Commission of Electricity chose Aclara powerline AMI networking on a project that will also feature in-home displays. (While outside the bounds of the electric power industry, the company is also involved in the largest AMI deal for gas with Southern California Gas Co.) In a recent independent study conducted by E Source, it was found that Aclara’s consumer-engagement solutions power 15 of the top 25 utility websites; the study also stated that Aclara’s solutions are used by 45 of the 100 utilities that were analyzed.
Primary competitors: eMeter, Itron, Opower, Oracle, Silver Spring Networks
Analyst Note: Aclara continues to be one of the most trusted companies in the smart grid space, offering a product portfolio to rival any company competing in the smart grid submarkets of networking/communications (including AMI), data management and hosting (including MDM) and customer energy information (including both CIS/utility billing and HAN portals). While its powerline networking solution may be a hard sell in the U.S. compared to RF mesh systems, we expect it to be very attractive in Western Europe and potentially China, where powerline continues to be the dominant method of grid communication. As noted, Aclara is one of the few companies in the world to currently offer both PLC and RF mesh networking solutions.
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