By Jeff St. John
Fresh on the heels of landing its first big smart meter deal with a U.S. utility, Echelon Corp. (NASDAQ:ELON) has added another name to its long list of European deployments.
The newest is with Fortum, a utility with operations in Scandinavia, Russia and the Baltic region. Fortum has hired Telvent to install smart meters at 500,000 homes in Finland, the companies announced Friday. That's about one-sixth of the country's electricity customers.
Telvent will use Echelon's Networked Energy Services smart meter technology, for the project — the typical way Echelon works with partners in utility projects in Europe, said Jeff Lund, senior vice president of business development. That will bring an estimated $50 million to $60 million to Echelon over the next five years, the company said in a press release.
It's another win for the San Jose, Calif.-based company in Europe, where it competes against top meter maker Landis+Gyr and others. Echelon's technology is deployed in a 30-million home smart meter project in Italy served by utility Enel. About 2.5 million more are under contract for deployment throughout Sweden, Denmark, Russia and the Netherlands, Lund said (see Echelon Beefs Up LonWorks).
Echelon has had less success in North America, though earlier this month it did expand its sole U.S. utility relationships with Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK), with an initial $15.8 million order that could expand to $150 million for a multi-million meter deployment in several states (see Echelon Expands Smart Meter Contract With Duke Energy).
Echelon also provides the power line signaling technology that will let Fortum's meters "talk" over the same wires that carry electricity to communication nodes at transformers, which can then send their data to utilities through a variety of wide area networks.
That technology has seen more success in Europe than in the United States, where more utilities are opting for wireless solutions (see RF Mesh, ZigBee, Top North American Utilities' Smart Meter Wish Lists).
Of course, as with many smart meter makers, Echelon is hedging its bets when it comes to communication standards, working with T-Mobile to give meters the ability to use its cellular networks through the concentrator boxes they send powerline signals to (see Echelon, T-Mobile Team on Smart Meter Contracts). Using cellular networks to carry smart meter data is probably the most popular wide area network solution in Europe, though it hasn't been adopted as widely in the United States, Lund said.