It's not a huge number, compared to the 24 million smart meters eMeter already helps manage in North America and Australia (see eMeter Lands $32M for Smart Meter Data, Home Energy Software).
But if the Swedish-based energy giant likes what the San Mateo, Calif.-based startup does in Finland, it has about 6 million more customers across northern Europe who will need smart meter soon, Chris King, eMeter chief strategy officer, said Tuesday.
eMeter doesn't provide communications for smart meters. Rather, it provides the back-end meter data management (MDM) software to handle tasks like reporting outages, turning meters on and off, and the all-important customer billing process - along with all the data storage that entails.
This isn't eMeter's first European project. It is doing a 100,000 smart meter deployment with Umetriq, a subsidiary of Berlin Gaswerke, which could grow to several million meters, King said That project would appear to be linked to eMeter's partnership with Siemens (see Green Light post).
The European Union has set a 2022 deadline for every electrical meter to have some kind of two-way communications and control capability, and utilities are lining up partners to get the job done (see Iberdrola Looks to PRIME PLC Standard).
Some are ahead of the game. Italy's Enel has about 30 million meters installed at almost all its customers. It uses the utility's own proprietary system based on technology from San Jose, Calif.-based Echelon, a company that has millions of meters using its own system under contract throughout Europe (see Echelon Expands Euro Smart Meter Biz).
Other utilities are planning smart meter networks, and Europe is in fact more heavily smart-metered than the United States. But eMeter offers some functions most European smart meter networks now lack, King said.
"There are a lot of smart meters installed in Europe, but implementing those systems, they implemented the minimal connections between the AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) systems and the billing systems," he said. "They've done no dynamic pricing, no demand response, no customer presentment of data."
Emeter can do that, he said. It even has its own Web interface for homeowners to watch their day-to-day energy use, a step that studies show can help customers cut about 10 percent from their power bills – though Vattenfall hasn't yet said what it plans along those lines, King said.
It's true that Enel hasn't done much on the home networking front, though its smart meters have more than paid themselves off by giving the utility information to correct voltages, predict equipment failures and fix other money-wasting distribution grid problems, Echelon CTO Bob Dolin said (see Notes From a National Smart Grid Experiment).
Enel is looking to test out a customer-facing home energy portal, one that may include Google's free PowerMeter energy dashboard, according to a September presentation by Enel executive Livio Gallo (see Enel Considering Google's PowerMeter for Pilot Project).
eMeter certainly has competition for the job, and not just from other startups. Smart meter companies make their own meter data management software, and heavyweights like IBM, SAP, Oracle and Microsoft have been doing a lot of smart grid work that could intrude on the same market (see Microsoft to Play Utility Matchmaker, Oracle Launches 'End-to-End' Smart Grid Software and Integrating the Smart Meter Universe).
In Europe, Spanish company Telvent has seen its fair share of smart grid integration work. As for Europe's smart meters themselves, Landis+Gyr holds a large slice of the market, analysts say.