Weatherbug Wants Some Smart Grid Action

Weatherbug, the company that lays claim to the world's largest weather-observing network, is launching Weatherbug Smart Grid Solutions to bring its weather know-how to utilities and their consumers. The applications will use hyper-local weather forecasting to increase efficiencies for utilities. The product has capabilities for load balancing and more accurate forecasting, as well as a demand response program, EcoResponse, which will blend weather information with algorithms to fine tune what’s needed for peak demand reduction. And what is a smart grid product these days without a web portal? The WeatherBug EcoConnect will provide consumption data, weather and energy audit info for customers enrolled in a demand response program. On the utility side, there are GIS and API weather data for better grid visualization. Other companies, such as EcoFactor, are already using weather data to fine-tune usage and seeing big savings in the residential sector, so for a weather company to work backwards into smart grid could potentially offer huge savings by leveraging their core business in a burgeoning market.


Bluetooth Eyes Home Area Network

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group announced that it is ready to jump head first into the world of smart grid, in particular, the area of home automation. Bluetooth is looking to enter the fray where Wi-Fi and ZigBee are also trying to make inroads, i.e., connecting smart meters to home gateways and HVAC systems and appliances around the house. The Bluetooth SIG argues that the price point for Bluetooth chips are already below that of ZigBee, and will continue to drop further.

Bluetooth could have a role beyond the smart electrical meter, as well, according to a report by Bluetooth SIG. The technology could also be leveraged for gas and water meters, as well as electric vehicles, many of which are already Bluetooth-enabled. “By 2020,” the study states, “the industry could be shipping more Bluetooth chips into meters and HVAC devices than into mobile phones and laptops.” We'll have to wait and see.


Sprint Extends Smart Grid Partnerships

Just last week we mentioned that SmartSynch had developed a smart meter for Sprint’s network. But now there’s more news. At GridWeek, Sprint announced that meter maker Itron and communications infrastructure company Ambient Corporation have also received Sprint network certification. This builds on last week’s news that Sprint will work with Grid Net to marry the Sprint 4G network with Grid Net’s software platforms. What today’s announcement didn’t come with, however, are large utility projects. Currently, Ambient works with Duke Energy and conEdison, while SmartSynch completed a 10,000-meter trial with Texas-New Mexico Power and has won a contract to help the Tennessee Valley Authority with its renewable program. The cost of cellular for large utility projects has plummeted, but Sprint and other carriers are still waiting for the big contracts to come calling.


Control4 Heads to Singapore

Home control systems company Control4 announced today at GridWeek that it is part of a three-year, $30 million AMI pilot in Singapore. The Singapore Energy Market Authority has named Accenture to lead the project, which will install meters and in-home devices in 4,500 homes and businesses. ST Electronics (Info-Comm Systems), Oracle, Hewlett Packard, Power Automation, and Greenwave are also partners.

From Australia to Taiwan, various companies are looking to Asian countries to make inroads and test their products with an eye on the prize: China. Singapore has nearly 4 million people living within about 250 square miles, making it a compact test bed for smart grid technologies. The two-phase pilot run by Accenture will leverage the country’s broadband network and then, in the last year, focus on consumer power use.