If you haven't heard much about Trilliant Incorporated in the past few months, that doesn't mean the smart grid communications company hasn't been busy.
Trilliant announced today that it has completed an agreement with Central Maine Power, the state's largest utility, to provide end-to-end communications mesh networks and smart meter infrastructure to all of its 620,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers.
The deal is one of Trilliant's largest, and comes at the same time that the company has announced its second round of financing worth $106 million, led by Investor Growth Capital and VantagePoint Venture Partners, which adds to the $40 million it raised in 2008.
CMP will use Trilliant's SecureMesh network to connect meters and other smart grid devices to its backend. The utility will also use Trilliant's UnitySuite software for all of its project management.
The deployment is funded in part by $96 million from the Department of Energy as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The funds are being matched by CMP, part of Iberdrola SA, which owns utilities with more than 30 million customers in 40 countries. Unlike many other utilities considering smart meter deployments, CMP put together a tight business case for a full smart grid project that will save rate payers money within a few months, according to Eric Miller, Senior Vice President of Solutions for Trilliant.
"The time-to-value is almost immediate, which is really what sets it apart," he said. Furthermore, it's a full deployment of Trilliant's network, rather than simply a smart meter rollout. The project includes substation automation, distribution automation and will have an energy management portal for customers starting in 2011. The entire project is expected to be complete by early 2012.
General Electric and Landis+Gyr are providing the smart meters and IBM is providing software integrated with Trilliant's UnitySuite applications. GE is also one of the investors in Trilliant's series B of funding.
"We already joined with GE on a couple of opportunities, so there's direct cooperation," said Miller. "There's also obviously the market credibility [issue] -- the fact that they're a major participant should lend a lot of comfort to our customers."
ABB was also a major investor, putting up $20 million of the $106 million of capital. "Today's utilities are looking for a unique combination of proven deployments, scalable, globally applicable solutions, and product leadership," Girish Nadkarni, Managing Director of ABB Technology Ventures, said in a statement. "We invest in companies that have technologies of strategic interest to us and as Trilliant addresses all three issues, it makes them a compelling choice."
The money will be used to accelerate expansion across the globe, particularly in Europe. Trilliant is already partnered with British Gas, which is part of Centrica plc. Beyond Europe, Miller said the company also has its eye on Asia in the not-too-distant future.