Business

AutoGrid grabs funding to help utility companies predict power needs

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Google isn’t the only one interested in the kind of data that can come from a connected thermostat.

The information smart thermostats collect — such as when energy demand peaks — can be immensely useful to utility companies, which have to determine how much power they need to keep their subscribers happy.

Today AutoGrid Systems, a company that performs complex analytics of data from connected thermostats, smart meters, and other inputs, announced it has raised $12.75 million in new funding.

E.ON, a power and gas company with headquarters in Düsseldorf, Germany, participated in the round alongside previous investors including Foundation Capital and Voyager Capital.

The new funding, which follows a $9 million round announced in October 2012, suggests that it’s critical for companies in the energy industry to be able to aggregate, process, and visualize more of the data they have access to. Utilities can benefit by being able to predict how much power individual customers will need. And, by logging on to AutoGrid’s web-based software, homeowners and businesses can see their energy consumption and work to reduce it.

The idea has caught on with Oklahoma Gas & Electric, Austin Energy in Texas, and the city of Palo Alto’s utility department in California. They’re all customers of AutoGrid, which is based in Redwood Shores, Calif. Running the infrastructure that enables this data analysis requires no big IT buy, because the company’s software is available as a cloud service.

Several big data companies can provide services to pull in and analyze various kinds of data, but AutoGrid is an example of a vertical-specific product taking off. Other vertical-specific data analytics providers that have made the news lately include Zephyr Health, in the life sciences area, which recently got funding, and BlueLabs, which has worked with several political campaigns, in the government sector.

Adoption of AutoGrid’s technology hasn’t spread across every state, but then again not every consumer owns a connected thermostat or bothers to check the data coming in from a smart meter. Now that Google owns Nest, people could become more aware of the fact that they can see how much energy they’re using, and utilities could start aiming to provide their own analysis with software from AutoGrid. The company’s new funding should help in that effort.


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