Like everyone else, eMeter is eyeing Asia these days. But rather than just mapping moves for the future, the meter data management giant has won its first customer in Taiwan, although it doesn't see the height of the Asian smart grid market being reached for a few more years.

EMeter, which already has a presence in Australia and New Zealand, is hoping that the Taiwan pilot will lay the groundwork for a role in mainland China's smart meter rollout. China is reportedly investing $180 billion in smart grid investments in an attempt to link the entire country by 2020. The projects will likely move much faster than smart meter rollouts in the U.S. once they get started, because China's state-owned utilities can move faster than large investor-owned utilities in the U.S. that have to go through public utility commissions.

"There's a potential for it to run much more quickly," said Kyle Arteaga, head of global communications for eMeter. "The Asia market is going to look for success in their backyard. We think this opens up a whole new frontier for eMeter."

The smart meter pilot is being run by the Industrial Technology Research Institute, an R&D organization partially funded by the government, which has selected eMeter's platform and its new home energy management portal, EnergyEngage. The results of the pilot, which will enroll 300 to 500 customers, could contribute to AMI regulations and standards in Taiwan. Taipower is the only utility in Taiwan and has a goal of deploying 10,000 smart meters by 2012, with a larger rollout of one million meters planned by 2015. Ultimately, Taipower has long-term plans to install about six million meters.

Arteaga sees eMeter's focus as remaining centered in the U.S. and Europe for the next 12 months, and doesn't expect the Chinese market to hit full throttle until about two years from now. State-owned utilities in Asia are even more diligent about their pilots on the front end, so that they can quickly scale up. "Their valuation process is pretty rigid," said Arteaga.

If eMeter were to be the eventual winner of a full smart meter data management and web portal contract in Taiwan, it would be a big win for the company's home energy management system. EnergyEngage just finished its first major pilot in Washington, D.C., and is waiting to find out if it will be picked for D.C.'s planned smart meter deployment. The San Mateo, Calif.-based company recently raised another $12.5 million in funding to expand sales, marketing, and new product development.

As for its latest product, EnergyEngage, the portal isn't really anything that special in the wide world of home energy management systems, but it is well positioned to scoop up contracts with the weight of eMeter's meter data management behind it. EMeter is hoping that the PowerCents Program currently underway in the nation's capitol will be reviewed by President Obama and could eventually become the model for energy savings plans across the U.S.