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Itron-C3 Partnership Links Smart Buildings & the Smart Grid

Eric Bloom — October 29, 2012

Itron, the global vendor of utility meters and associated software and services, recently announced a strategic alliance with C3, the enterprise energy management software company launched in 2008 by Tom Siebel and Pat House, the team behind Siebel Systems, which was acquired by Oracle for $5.8 billion in 2005.  The purpose of the alliance is to jointly develop and offer an energy management solution for North American utilities.

From Itron’s perspective, C3 represents the latest in a long list of partners that expand the reach of its metering and data management solutions.  It already works with firms such as Comverge, a demand response company, and Tendril Networks, a provider of home energy management technology, to provide additional software-enabled dimensions to its consumer metering offerings.  The partnership will strengthen three of Itron’s products: its Demand Response program management system, its Enterprise Edition Curtailment Manager, and its Smart Grid offering, on which it already partners with other smart grid networking and communications giants.

For its part, C3 views Itron as yet another channel to market its enterprise energy management software.  While C3’s current customer base focuses on large enterprises (including Dow and Pella) and even a number of utilities (such as PG&E and Constellation Energy), working in direct partnership with Itron allows C3 to go even deeper into facility- and meter-level visibility and control on behalf of utilities.

The company seems to make a bold move in the energy management software world every few months.  In May, C3 acquired Efficiency 2.0, a residential energy management software company à la OPOWER, as I wrote about in this blog.  This most recent deal builds on the previous ones by demonstrating C3’s commitment to addressing utilities’ growing needs around energy efficiency and customer engagement.  It also helps cement the company’s ability to play not only in energy efficiency but also demand response and smart grid.

Energy management companies have been trying to figure out how to expand their potential customer base beyond major enterprises and organizations.  Utilities have proven to be one of the best alternatives, due to the large building portfolios made up by their ratepayers as well as an increase in regulatory pressure demanding that they reduce their customers’ energy consumption.

By tying a meter data management offering with an enterprise energy management offering, though, Itron and C3 are aiming to create a platform that does far more than help customers visualize and reduce their energy consumption.  It allows utilities to make use of that data, too, enabling them to analyze meter data with a specialized analytics tools designed to help them dynamically manage loads and model the economic benefits for customers and utilities.  In doing so, it also allows utilities to squeeze more value out of their expensive smart meter installations.

I consider the success of this partnership a critical litmus test for the broader challenge of transforming buildings into dynamic nodes within the smart grid.

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