An unprecedented overflow crowd at this week’s “smart” grid conference in Washington, D.C., could put a pop in the shares of several companies that are likely to garner media attention.
While definitions vary widely, the “smart grid” generally is a multi-year project (strongly backed by the Obama administration) whose cost has been estimated at up to $75 billion. It is intended to give the nation’s power grid a new telecommunications backbone, transforming it into an “energy Internet.” Over time, this new smart grid is expected to save the nation trillions of dollars by eliminating blackouts and the need to build hundreds of new power plants. It’s further expected to significantly reduce consumers’ and businesses' power bills.
Among the companies likely to get favorable attention during Grid Week 2009 is Itron Inc. (ITRI), which plans to show off its advanced metering application for the grid, called “Openway.” Another is Ambient Corp. (ABTG), which plans to highlight how its open, scalable IP-based communications technology is being employed in utilities’ smart-grid pilot projects.
While they may be too big for their stocks to pop right away, Grid Week 2009 also may open the eyes of many more investors to the potential for a lot of telecom heavyweights to make a lot of money, in particular: Cisco Systems (CSCO), IBM (IBM), Intel Corp. (INTC), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Google Inc. (GOOG).
Alert investors will also see how the move to “smarten up” the grid – which, after all, is occurring not just in the U.S. but also throughout Asia and Europe – could fatten the bottom lines of foreign-based firms such as Siemens AG (SI), ABB Ltd. (ABB), and Telvent Git SA (TLVT).
The list goes on and on, but another name that could stand out at next week’s conference is South Korea’s NURI Telecom Co. (Symbol KDQ:040160). General Electric Co. (GE), another heavyweight that could make hay on the smart grid, will be announcing a “collaboration” with NURI intended to “accelerate the advancement of smart grid globally.”