Is the Foursquare, Twitter, or Mint.com of real time energy data just around the corner? GridGlo, a year-old startup working on combining energy data with other big data sets, launched on Wednesday, with a plan to sell apps around energy info to utilities. In addition to launching the company this week, GridGlo also announced a $1.2 million investment from New York-based big data research group CUBRC.
GridGlo CEO and founder Isaias Sudit explained to me in an interview that GridGlo takes real time energy data from smart meters, as well as historical data from electricity bills, and merges it with data from other sources, like real estate data, weather data, and demographic data. Sudit calls the analytics process that the company does “data fusion,” or basically combining disparate data sets to draw conclusions about something. For example, say an energy consumer is married, lives in a 2,500-square-foot home, and is female, the analytics can help predict how she will consume energy.
Sudit said GridGlo has four tools that it is currently selling to utilities, including 1). an energy forecasting model, which can more accurately predict how consumers are using energy, 2). a demand response analytics tool that can help utilities see how well their demand response programs are working, 3). an energy credit scoring app that lumps consumers into different types of energy consumers, and 4). a financial risk energy tool, which partly looks at how much of a risk customers are in terms of not paying their electricity bills.
While Sudit wouldn’t name any utilities that GridGlo is working with, he said that the company has pilot projects with six utilities, and potentially later this year or early next year those could turn into commercial projects. It’s still early days for smart meter installations in the U.S., so real time energy data services like this will become more and more attractive as more meters are installed.
But already managing smart meter data is starting to overwhelm utilities. Southern California Edison has installed Teradata data warehouse appliances to store and serve data from customers’ smart grid meters, and the project includes two Teradata Active Enterprise Data Warehouse systems (one for production and one for disaster recovery) each capable of storing 50TB before compression.
According to a December report from Pike Research, the market for smart-grid data analytics will reach $4.2 billion by 2015. GridGlo already has a sizable amount of competition in the market. IT vendors such as IBM, Oracle, ( s orcl) EMC and SAP are all working on products that can handle both storage and analytics for utilities. But one area that GridGlo is a bit different is that its tools are all software-as-a-service, and housed in the cloud, enabling the products to handle millions of records every 15 minutes.
Using big data to predict or change consumer data is a particularly hot area. OPower has built software that does analytics on energy consumption data and finds ways to help consumers reduce their energy consumption. OPower has convinced over 50 utilities to sign-up and now has access to data from 43 million meters, roughly a third of US households, and has saved 200 gigawatt hours of energy since it started — enough energy to power the Empire State Building for three-and-a-half years.
GridGlo’s goal is also to work with application developers, and enable the next-generation of innovative apps to emerge. Sudit said GridGlo is talking to a lot of interesting and progressive app developers working on everything from games to social networks to advertising apps to apps that can trigger peak energy alerts.