Siemens continues smart grid expansion, buys software maker EMeter

Siemens Industry, Inc. has bought California smart meter software maker EMeter Corporation, as it continues expansion plans in the smart grid space announced two years ago.

EMeter is a 13-year-old company that makes meter data management or MDM systems, a type of software that utilities can’t do without if they want to set up smart grid networks. It acts as the smart grid’s nervous system – collecting data from two-way meters, and then sending them to utilities.

While the companies did not disclose the terms of the deal, Siemens is expected to acquire all of EMeter’s stocks and close the transaction later this month.

Siemens said back in 2009 that it wanted to win 6 billion euros’ worth of smart grid projects in over five years. The goal is ambitious, considering its 1 billion euro in estimated smart grid-related revenues for the fiscal year ending September 2009.

Since then, the conglomerate has been partnering with, investing in and buying smaller smart grid companies.

GTM said the MDM market will grow from $54 million in 2009 to as much as $221 million by 2014 as more utilities install smart maters that depend on the software.

EMeter was ranked as the top MDM provider in the United States by GTM research in August last year, citing the company’s plans to manage 6.5 million meters by 2014 with its EnergyIP software.

Data such as customer power use is collected every 15 minutes, providing utilities a way to understand peaks in demand and make better decisions on how to manage them. The same information can also be accessed by consumers through a dashboard or dedicated device to find ways on how to lower utility bills.

Known utilities such as Jacksonville Electric Authority, Vattenfall, Toronto Hydro Electric System and Bluebonnet are currently using EMeter software in their smart grid networks.

The company has raised a total of $68.8 million in over six funding rounds according to Aside from Siemens, investors include Sequoia Capital, Foundation Capital, Northgate Capital and DBL Investors.

It will now be part of the smart grid division of Siemens’ Infrastructure & Cities Sector under Siemens Industry, Inc., the American unit of the German conglomerate. It will continue to operate from its San Mateo, California headquarters.

Smart choices

Siemens was initially an investor and project partner of EMeter. It led a $12.5 million investment in EMeter in 2008 and has partnered with several meter data management projects with utilities in the United States and Europe.

In the same way, Siemens acquired a 60 percent stake in Energy4U, a company similar to EMeter, back in August 2009 followed by the acquisition of Site Controls in October 2010 for an undisclosed sum. Texas-based Site Controls makes software that can optimize air-conditioning.

Instead of buying companies Siemens has often opted for partnerships or investments like what it did with Viridity Energy and Tendril. EMeter can be considered a solid acquisition, considering the number of utility deals it has made and the length of time it has remained in an unpredictable market.

By combining portfolios, Gary Bloom, chief executive of EMeter, believes that having Siemens at their side will give its business an edge in the smart grid market.

«Siemens’ global reach and innovative products and services coupled with EMeter’s renowned EnergyIP platform, supports an aggressive growth strategy and further penetration into the Smart Grid market,» said Mr. Bloom. «I am confident Siemens will provide EMeter with the level of investment required in people, technology and operations to significantly strengthen our position in the market.»

EMeter is also developing separate applications to turn data gathered by EnergyIP into graphs for business reports, customizable web-portals and advanced billing systems for utility customers. The company this year also introduced a cloud version of its EnergyIP software with Verizon.

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