GridPoint is spending some of the more than $220 million in venture capital it has raised to buy another piece in the smart grid software jigsaw puzzle.
That's Lixar, a secretive Ottawa-based startup making home energy management software and systems now being tested in Canada – and, according to one news report, with major U.S. utility Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) as well.
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but Monday's announcement does shed some light on what Lixar is offering.
Lixar's home energy interface is available via the web and on mobile devices like iPhones and Blackberry devices, the announcement said. The company’s systems can work with communications protocols including Insteon, Modbus, WiFi, ZigBee, Z-Wave and X10, the announcement said.
Lixar also “offers a transformer monitoring solution that monitors temperature, voltage, power and current” to help utilities manage transformers on the distribution grid, the announcement said. Just how Lixar does this isn’t made clear.
Lixar has tested its technology in a project involving Canadian utility Milton Hydro, Direct Energy and Bell Canada, according to Tyler Hamilton's Clean Break blog.
It is also rumored (via Earth2Tech) to be a part of Duke Energy's plan to deploy smart grid technologies throughout its service areas in partnership with Cisco Systems – the first big utility partnership for the networking giant's broad-ranging smart grid aspirations (see Duke Energy Enlists Cist in Smart Grid Efforts and Cisco Wants to Be Everywhere in the Smart Grid).
Richard Oh, Lixar managing partner, and Mike Carlson, GridPoint's senior vice president of external operations, declined to say whether or not they were involved in the Duke project in a Monday interview (see GridPoint Hires Xcel Energy CIO Carlson).
Duke has been rather quiet about its startup partners for its various smart grid projects, though Greentech Media has reported that North Carolina-based home networking startup Sequentric Energy Systems is playing a role in the utility's Charlotte, N.C. "virtual power plant" project (see Sequentric Working on Duke Pilot Project and Integral Analytics: Orchestrating Duke's 'Virtual Power Plant').
GridPoint has its own relationship with Duke, having worked with the utility on an electric car "smart charging" pilot project last year (see Laying the Grid Groundwork for Plug-In Hybrids).
The Arlington, Va.-based startup is promising software to manage energy efficiency, load management, distributed energy sources like solar and wind power and energy storage and electric vehicles. Last week it announced a new version of that software, as well as a marketing agreement with a group representing some of the United States' smaller utilities (see GridPoint Beefs Up Smart Grid Software, Lands New Marketing Deal).
In September, when it announced its most recent funding round of $120 million, GridPoint also bought car charging technology developer V2Green and promised more acquisitions to come (see GridPoint Gets $120M, Buys V2Green).
Whether its purchase of Lixar will lead to a first commercial deal for GridPoint remains to be seen. So far it has been involved in several pilot projects, including a role in Xcel Energy's $100 million SmartGridCity project and a wind farm energy storage project, as well as early work on Austin Energy's smart grid effort, known as the Pecan Street Project (see GridPoint to Manage Wind Power Battery Storage).
GridPoint and Lixar haven't integrated their systems yet in any pilot projects, though Lixar is involved in Xcel's SmartGridCity project, Carlson said Monday.
Acquisitions are one way to expand the solutions GridPoint has to offer, but they can be less than completely smooth. V2Green founder David Kaplan sued GridPoint in March, claiming he was forced out of the company without the compensation owed him according to his contact, something GridPoint denies (see Green Light post).