Smart Grid Investments on Rise

Thursday, July 15, 2010 @ 01:07 PM gHale

The smart grid is gaining more momentum as ABB Ltd. And General Electric Co. led a group investing $106 million in Trilliant Inc., a maker of smart meters for electric utilities.
Redwood City, CA-based Trilliant plans to use the money to increase development of the meters, which allow utilities and consumers to more efficiently manage power use.
In addition to the financing, Trilliant also won a contract to build a $200 million smart-meter system for the 610,000 customers of Augusta, Maine-based Central Maine Power Co.
In Maine, Trilliant plans to begin the design and installation of meters made by GE and Landis & Gyr by September and the system will be ready in early 2012, the company said.
Venture capital firm VantagePoint Venture Partners and Investor Growth Capital also contributed to the latest round of funding, which Trilliant Chief Executive Andrew White said should be the last one needed before the company can finance its own growth or sell shares to the public.
As a part of the $106 investment, ABB ponied up $20 million. The investment went through ABB Technology Ventures, its venture capital arm.
The deal gives ABB a link to Trilliant’s end-to-end system for smart grid communications. Trilliant provides utilities with wireless mesh networks that enable two-way communication from the head-end operations center to all devices on the grid, a solution that encompasses not only meters and in-home energy management devices but also substations and grid equipment such as transformers and capacitor banks.
This investment by ABB builds on its existing work with Trilliant, when in September 2009 the two companies successfully demonstrated the interoperability of Trilliant’s SecureMesh communications network with ABB’s station automation and protection products.
“Solutions for intelligent and secure communication from the neighborhood level to the wide area network are what many utilities are seeking,” said Bazmi Husain, head of ABB’s smart grids initiative.
GE is also an investor in and supplier to Trilliant. “GE and Trilliant are aligned around a common vision to modernize the power grid to support the energy needs of our 21st century society,” Luke Clemente, general manager for metering at GE’s Digital Energy unit.

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