eMeter takes $32M to help utilities switch to smart meters

eMeter, maker of software that helps utilities integrate data channeled from new smart meters in residential and commercial areas, has brought in $32 million in a third round of funding to meet rising demand.

While this financing, provided by Sequoia Capital and Foundation Capital, will help the San Mateo, Calif., company expand its marketing efforts and deliver more product, it says it’s still waiting for utilities to receive their chunks of the $4.5 billion in stimulus money allocated to smart-grid programs. That’s when smart metering conversion will pick up speed, causing business to explode, the company says. It wants to have the infrastructure in place to handle this business before that happens. Not that it’s current footprint is tiny — it already brokers data transmitted by 24 million smart meters around the world. It’s also landed deals with the likes of large Texan utility CenterPoint to provide data management software for more than 2 million new smart meters rolling out before 2013.

The fact that Sequoia has invested so heavily in the company is significant. Not only does the firm strongly favor startups bringing in steady revenue, it’s name brand is somewhat of a king maker for the companies it supports. Essentially, it’s anointed eMeter as one of the leading forces in the smart grid software space, a sector where it hasn’t invested much money previously.

eMeter’s business might also branch off in a different direction in the near future as requests for its consumer-facing software continue to mount. Of course, competition is pretty stiff in this area, with Google PowerMeter and Microsoft Hohm leading the pack of household energy consumption monitors. Tendril, Greenbox, EnergyHub and Onzo are also chasing after the big boys in that particular race. Then again, if eMeter can market its consumer-interface software to customers who may not have had a prior interest in tracking energy use via its utility partners, it may gain some traction.

In light of this anticipated success, eMeter has already considered its potential to go public, claiming that it is definitely in the cards but probably not in the near future due to slow market conditions.

The decade-old company raised $8 million in seed and angel funding before 2005, $10 million in venture backing in 2006, and $12 million more last year.