The list of smart-grid companies continues. SmartSynch has developed technology enabling two-way delivery of real-time energy usage data over public wireless networks. A startup called eMeter designs software that helps utilities gather and integrate information generated by smart meters and communicate usage information from homes and businesses back to utilities. A company called Tendril manufactures an array of devices, including a wireless thermostat and an Internet gateway that provides a method for automatically collecting energy-usage information.
Presumably, as with the Internet boom, not all of the companies entering the smart-grid arena will survive. The point, though, is that the smart grid will be built and expanded on information technology, which makes the smart grid particularly good for the IT world from a business perspective.
Play it smart
There's plenty more work to be done to get a national smart grid up and running. Proponents will need to sort out issues of standards, privacy, and security. Utilities -- which are, after all, businesses -- will need to be convinced that they can profit from the investment.
Given the attention the smart grid is getting from the government, businesses, and environmentalists, I'm bullish about the future of the smart grid. It will prove to be good for business and good for the environment. My local utilities (Pacific Gas and Electric and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District) are already working on smart-grid products; I urge you to contact your local utilities, politicians, and chambers of commerce to get behind the smart grid as well.