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Behave Yourself! The Utilities 'Have Got Your Numbers' and Next They'll Know Your Habits, Too

Smart Grid

May 18, 2011

Behave Yourself! The Utilities 'Have Got Your Numbers' and Next They'll Know Your Habits, Too

By Cheryl Kaften
TMCnet Contributor

Have you ever heard the phrase, “too much information”? Utilities can tell you all about it.  With millions of smart meters installed worldwide—soon to be billions—utilities are being barraged by data.  They know it’s valuable, but they don’t know what to do with it.

GridGlo, a private software company that provides insights into energy consumption, would like to help. Based in Delray Beach, Florida, GridGlo is working with utilities to combine consumer household behavioral data with energy usage data—along with a dollop of data on weather, demographics, motor vehicle registrations, and even satellite imagery—and from all that, to draw strategic operational and marketing conclusions. The process is called data fusion.

“We realized utilities were getting all this data from advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) deployments and there was no clear understanding [of] how to monetize the data or use the data,” said Isaias Sudit, CEO of the origins of GridGlo.

Earlier this month, GridGlo attracted funding from CUBRC , a not-for-profit research center in Buffalo, New York, with deep data fusion expertise, developed over decades serving the Department of Defense and other government agencies.  CUBRC invested $1.2 million in seed finance, and established a strategic partnership with GridGlo, to fund and create the algorithms for analyzing meter data.

Michael Moskal, Vice President and CIO at CUBRC, commented, “GridGlo came to us with the idea that data aggregation combined with data fusion could transform the energy industry and accelerate the development of a new class of smart applications for the smart grid. We agreed. The Company’s platform already has attracted the interest of major utilities, and its open standard, API-based approach is right for fostering the developer ecosystem and fueling the creation of innovative new applications.”

GridGlo is already testing one of its first applications, the Energy People Meter (EPM), a FICO-like score for energy consumers. An EPM score is a real-time digital fingerprint of a customer’s energy behavior. EPM scores range from 1 to 1000, with a higher score reflecting a user who consumes energy efficiently, has predictable consumption patterns, and is actively improving his or her energy consumption behavior.

The company and its utility partners also have six pilot tests of other applications in progress, including a forecasting tool to reliably predict demand on an individual-premise basis and a demand-response scenario builder to predict the impact of future demand-response events. In addition, GridGlo is testing a risk management tool for identifying potential abandonment, energy theft, and consumer financial health.

None of the applications is meant to be consumer- facing. “We are more of a B2B, rather than straight to a consumer” initiative, said Sudit.

Other companies are also ready to capitalize on the Smart Grid analytics market. According to a new report from Boulder, Colorado-based Pike Research, the software and services that will enable smart grid data analytics will represent one of the largest growth opportunities in the utility sector over the next few years, increasing from a relatively small market of $356 million in 2010 to nearly $4.2 billion in annual revenue by 2015.

“Smart grid utilities are evolving into brokers of information,” says industry analyst Marianne Hedin. “The ‘data tsunami’ that will wash over utilities in the coming years is a formidable IT challenge, but it is also a huge opportunity to move beyond simple meter-to-cash functions and into more robust business intelligence capabilities, true situational awareness with real-time optimization of their operations, and even predictive analytics.”

Cheryl Kaften is an accomplished communicator who has written for consumer and corporate audiences. She has worked extensively for MasterCard (News - Alert) Worldwide, Philip Morris USA (Altria), and KPMG, and has consulted for Estee Lauder and the Philadelphia Inquirer Newspapers. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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