From Smart Grid to Consumer

July 13, 2010

Tendril, an energy management systems maker originally making its home systems available through electric utilities as part of smart grid programs, now plans products that will be available to consumers through retail and consumer electronics channels, likely by summer of next year.

The company’s Vision energy monitor can sit on a countertop and features a clock on its face (similar to designs from Cisco and Intel). It will likely be offered to consumers in a bundle with a ZigBee-based programmable thermostat, according to Scott Ballantyne, Tendril’s vice president of marketing.

Tendril’s in-home display will still be offered to utilities as part of smart grid trials and pilot programs. Ballantyne says Tendril devices will be in 20,000 homes in pilot programs with utilities this summer, testing services such as demand response, in which utilities offer discounted rates to turn down or shut off a home’s appliances such as air conditioners and water heaters to avoid brownouts. Ballantyne says all of the company’s pilots could go to full-scale deployment in two years.

That could be a long time to wait, especially for an electric utility industry that is notoriously slow to innovate—and it could be a reason that Tendril is also looking to sell directly to the consumer.

But Ballantyne hasn’t lost faith in the utility smart grid channel. “Collectively, demand response is a year or two away from a tipping point. Large scale deployments are starting this year, and there will be more deployments next year.”

As well as systems sold directly to consumers.


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