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Silver Spring Networks, a startup that provides IP-based networks and advanced wireless meters to utilities and their customers, just announced that it is acquiring Greenbox Technology, a maker of monitor displays that show homeowners how much energy they are using and how much it is costing them. This extends Silver Spring’s lead over the competition as it eyes an increasingly likely IPO.
In addition to generous funding, Silver Spring also enjoys high-profile utility partnerships with Pepco, Pacific Gas & Electric, Florida Power & Light, Commonwealth Edison and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District — accounting for 25 percent of the U.S. population. It also has a substantial presence in Australia and is rolling out new utility deals every day.
While the Redwood City, Calif. company has plans to integrate Greenbox’s monitors into its networking systems, it’s unclear whether all of these utilities will be installing Greenbox equipment in their coverage areas as well — already including about 1.5 million homes and businesses. Financial terms of the deal, unveiled at the GridWeek 2009 conference in Washington, D.C., were not released.
The two companies have been working together for a while. They first teamed up for a Smart Grid pilot project with Oklahoma Gas and Electric, during which their technology was deployed in 6,600 apartments in Oklahoma City. The results gathered from the experiment were overwhelmingly positive — with many participants enthusiastically reporting changes in behavior made to save money on their energy bills.
Today, Silver Spring is rolling out about 50,000 new smart metering devices every week. Integrating home energy monitors with smart meters appears to be the next big trend in the Smart Grid space. Just yesterday, meter maker Elster announced its partnership with Blue Line Innovations to add monitor displays to their operations as well. And last week, major meter provider Itron teamed up with touchscreen energy monitor developer OpenPeak to do the same.
Many of the companies that provide this technology, like Tendril and Control4, have added a component that allows home and business owners to turn appliances and thermostats off and on via a display, or even remotely, to bring their energy use and costs down. While the Silver Spring-Greenbox union won’t allow for this immediately, Silver Spring is working with Tendril and demand response company Comverge to turn these options on as soon as possible.
Earlier this month, Silver Spring CEO Scott Lang let slip that the company will pursue an initial public offering in the next two years — probably in 2010. With a revenue run rate exceeding $100 million a year and more than $170 million in capital, it is well positioned. It counts big names like Google, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Foundation Capital among its backers.
Before this statement, it had been speculated that Silver Spring would sell to Cisco Systems, a major corporation looking to quickly grow its presence in the Smart Grid.
Other Silver Spring investors include Edison Electric Institute, JVB Properties and Northgate Capital. Greenbox, based in San Bruno, Calif. — incredibly close to Silver Spring’s headquarters — lists former executive chairman of Macromedia Rob Burgess and former vice president of Macromedia Betsey Nelson as investors.
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