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Summary:

Germany’s Yello Strom might be the coolest utility in the world — it’s embraced the intertwining of energy and home broadband connections and is one of the few that manages its smart meter service directly via its customers’ broadband link. That means it can easily offer […]

yellostrom3Germany’s Yello Strom might be the coolest utility in the world — it’s embraced the intertwining of energy and home broadband connections and is one of the few that manages its smart meter service directly via its customers’ broadband link. That means it can easily offer consumers web-style smart meter applications, including Google’s PowerMeter energy management tool, and potentially a twitter feed of energy consumption.

From Yello Strom’s perspective, leveraging broadband is cheaper than building a new network or renting space on a phone company’s network, and can be more engaging to users because the system can update data faster and offer more compelling consumer services. It’s the future of the energy industry, says Martin Vesper, Yello Strom’s executive director, and customers have to be engaged with the product to change their energy consumption behavior. We’ll see how committed customers are, as Yello Strom only started selling and renting its smart meters seven months ago, but Vesper said it’s selling about 100 to 200 smart meters a day.

The scenario in Yello Strom’s market is very different than the U.S.: Germany’s electricity industry is deregulated (i.e., competitive). In the U.S. (which is largely regulated) smart meters are being rolled out by early moving utilities looking to tap stimulus funds and convince customers to use less electricity, mostly so they don’t have to build more expensive power generation. U.S. customers won’t be choosing whether or not they get a smart meter, and there are little or no fees associated with the technology (sometimes a slight monthly rate hike). So while the smart meter rollout could go much faster in the U.S. than in Yello Strom’s footprint, the customers who buy Yello Strom’s meters have a greater chance of actually changing their energy consumption behavior.

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  1. Andrew Jones Thursday, July 2, 2009

    Out buildings have been tweeting their energy consumption for some time. http://twitter.com/AlquistARJ. This is a demonstration project showing how you can use social networking to get people interested in in saving energy.

    Andrew

  2. I Like this blog, my one complaint is how US centric you all are. I really wish you would remember that the vast majority of people on this planet live outside the US… so how about considering the wider global implications

  3. Taco de Vries Thursday, July 2, 2009

    It is incorrect to state smart metering is free for US consumers and that there is a “slight” rate increase for the consumers. Check the rate cases, e.g. Centerpoint will charge you the full cost of the meter, $3.05 every month for 11 years or about $400 per consumer, if you want the meter or not. The total cost for Centerpoint’s customers add up to about 800 million US, and the “proven” benefits are a miserable 125 million over 17 years, with 97% due to firing meter readers.

    If you read the rate case carefully you can see that Centerpoint will do almost NOTHING in the project, it outsources the entire “network ugrade” to Itron and IBM.

    Hardly anything to be proud of nor copy elsewhere

  4. What’s Hot on the GigaOM Network? Thursday, July 2, 2009

    [...] Smart Meters That Can Tweet, From a Utility That “Gets” Broadband- GigaOM [...]

  5. Don Jackson Friday, July 3, 2009

    Interesting.

    I commented on a previous post ( http://gigaom.com/2009/05/04/how-wimax-can-retool-the-power-grid ) that power companies should stop trying to build new data networking infrastructure and let us plug smart meters into our existing broadband connections ( http://gigaom.com/2009/05/04/how-wimax-can-retool-the-power-grid/#comment-941940 ) and I was taken to task for proposing something that would never work ( http://gigaom.com/2009/05/04/how-wimax-can-retool-the-power-grid/#comment-942031 . Ha!

  6. Architectural Technologist – Energy Event 09 Thursday, September 10, 2009

    [...] Smart Meters That Can Tweet, From a Utility That “Gets” Broadband (gigaom.com) [...]

  7. Cisco Wants to Transform Energy Demand and Use with Smart Buildings · Environmental Leader · Green Business, Sustainable Business, and Green Strategy News for Corporate Sustainability Executives Monday, October 19, 2009

    [...] Yello Strom is using its customers’ broadband link to manage its smart meter service, reports GigaOM. This means the utility company can offer consumers Web-style smart meter applications, including [...]

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