Should we really be pushing smart meters as the holy grail of smart grid deployments?
Gary Fromer, the CEO of demand response company CPower (which used to be called ConsumerPowerLine), suggests more attention should be paid instead to energy efficiency programs that reward consumers for changing their behavior. A potential shortcoming of smart meters is that some consumers are beginning to associate electricity rate increases with their deployment. Unfortunately, even those this isn't necessarily true, perception equals reality, Fromer says.
It may take five or 10 years for energy consumers to really understand what smart meters can and cannot do, he notes.
Of course, Fromer's opinion is just a tad self-interested. CPower is focused on helping companies and utilities get smarter about energy usage TODAY by applying technology to the problem of anticipating peak demand, and then getting people to do something about it. CPower and other demand response companies help their customers return power to the grid by getting them to decrease usage during peak periods. Fromer says the aggregate result "looks to the grid like the utility turned on a new generator."
Even though CPower isn't in the sexy smart meter space, it has garnered plenty of attention (and investment) for itself over the past six months. The company snagged about $10.7 million in Series B venture funding last year from investors including Mayfield Fund, Bessemer Venture Partners, Expansion Capital Partners, Schneider Electric Ventures, New York City Investment Fund and Consensus Business Group. It also has claimed some money from the Intel Open Energy Initiative.
Last November, CPower was recognized as the winner of the GreenBeat 2009 Innovation Competition. During the year, it also doubled the number of megawatts it has under management through its demand response programs.