By Jeff St. John
Silver Spring announced Tuesday that AEP has chosen it for a much bigger smart meter deployment, this one involving AEP Ohio.
The two companies didn't specify just how many meters would be deployed in AEP's gridSMARTSM demonstration project. But in Ohio, AEP does intend to start with about 110,000 General Electric (NYSE:GE) smart meters using Silver Spring radios and networking, GE announced late last month.
The AEP-Silver Spring pilot project will also include linking home energy management networks and distribution grid sensors and controls, Silver Spring announced. AEP utility Indiana Michigan Power tested Silver Spring's capability for managing distribution automation and home energy networks as well as smart meters in its 10,000 smart meter pilot project in South Bend, Ind., Eric Dresselhuys, Silver Spring's vice president of markets, said Tuesday.
Tuesday's news adds another big utility to the growing list of customers for Silver Spring. The Redwood City, Calif.-based smart grid company is networking millions of smart meters being deployed by California utility Pacific Gas & Electric Co., Pepco Holdings and Florida Power & Light and is working on pilot projects at Commonwealth Edison Co. and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (see Green Light post and GE, Silver Spring Land ComEd Smart Meter Pilot).
Silver Spring's projects with ComEd and Pepco also include distribution automation, Dresselhuys noted. But he'd like to see the company's network used for more than just smart metering across a broad range of customers – a goal being pursued by many smart grid networking providers (see Green Light post).
In the next six years, AEP wants to deploy about five million smart meters throughout its service territories spanning multiple states. Whose meters and networking gear will be involved remains an open question, but Silver Spring's work in Ohio and Indiana could be seen as a promising trend for work to come.
A similar observation could be made of Echelon's smart meter contract with Duke Energy, which will initially be limited to about $15 million but which could expand to as much as $150 million if Duke picks Echelon for its broader smart meter goals (see Echelon Expands Smart Meter Contract With Duke Energy).
Silver Spring doesn't make smart meters, but rather makes the radios that go into the meters and the mesh networking gear that allows them to communicate with one another. Smart meter makers can provide their own radios and networking, or turn to companies like Silver Spring and its rival, Trilliant.
Silver Spring has gotten more venture capital investment than its potential rivals – about $160 million – and last month bought home energy monitoring software maker Greenbox, laying the groundwork for an integrated smart meter/home energy management offering for utilities (see Silver Spring Swallows Greenbox).