Think of eMeter as the data-keeper for the smart grid.
Since 2000, the San Mateo, Calif.-based startup has built a business supplying its data management software to utilities that need a way to manage and store the data they're collecting from smart meters.
On Monday, eMeter announced a deal with CenterPoint Energy (NYSEL CNP) to back up the Texas utility's plan to install 2 million smart meters in its territory. That follows deals with Alliant Energy, Jacksonville Electric Authority and the Canadian province of Ontario, among others.
While different smart meter manufacturers and communications networking companies supply their gear and services to those utility projects, eMeter makes the software behind the scenes.
Other companies – such as Liberty Lake, Wash.-based smart meter maker Itron (NSDQ: ITRI) and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. smart meter project partner Ecologic Analytics – also make software to manage the massive flow of data that will soon start arriving from those millions of smart meters.
That includes creating interfaces between the meters and their communications networks and the utility's systems for billing clients, tracking outages and other functions.
But eMeter CEO Cree Edwards says his company's software distinguishes itself from the competition for its ability to "provide a system of record" for the data meters collect and transmit, on a time scale that spans years or decades.
"What we do that they don't do is manage the AMI [advanced metering infrastructure] lifecycle process," he said. That includes keeping records on billing, customer changes, meter failures, work orders for replacements, and all the other data those meters may someday collect and transmit.
Eventually that will include the incorporation of electric car batteries and renewable sources of energy like solar power into the grid, said Edwards, who got his start in the business with CellNet Data Systems, which was bought by smart meter maker Landis+Gyr in 2006.
EMeter has raised $25 million in the past two years, including a Series A round in April 2007 led by Foundation Capital and DBL Investors and an April 2008 Series B round led by Siemens (NYSE: SI), which in June signed a joint development and supply agreement with eMeter.
As far as competition goes, Edwards sees it coming from companies like Itron, Sensus and other metering companies that make their own software for the purpose, as well as companies like Oracle Corp., which bought utility meter data management software company Lodestar Corp. in 2007.
Another potential competitor is Gridpoint, which has raised more than $220 million in support of its plan to make software that connects smart meters, communications systems and the utilities that use the data (see GridPoint Gets $120M, Buys V2Green and GridPoint to Manage Wind Power Battery Storage).