In the way that broadband networks have enabled the emergence of our favorite web apps like Google (s GOOG) and Twitter, so the smart grid will create a network platform that will foster the development of a new generation of energy management applications. Florida utility FPL’s (s FPL) rollout of 1 million smart meters in Miami, possibly expanding to 4.5 million meters throughout the state, that was announced this morning will provide an important lens through what could be a so-called killer app for consumers and utilities can be viewed.
The Miami smart meter buildout will include a 1,000-home test of different devices and services, among them dashboards, smart thermostats, smart appliances and demand response software, that are designed to help consumers more actively manage their energy consumption. A GE (s GE) spokesperson tells us that initially it will be providing 500 of the smart dashboards — small, connected displays that will manage energy consumption beyond the PC or cell phone — as well as 50 smart appliances. But that leaves open a whole lot of room for other third parties to try to get their devices and services into the trial. GE tells us that the provider of the smart thermostats has not been decided yet.
The network, built by Silver Spring Networks and Cisco (s CSCO), will be based on open standards technology, which GE says this will provide a massive opportunity for third parties to develop applications that will interface with it. Silver Spring Networks Eric Dresselhuys tells us that, naturally, Florida utility FPL is the one making the decisions as to which consumer end devices will be used. So all you smart energy display companies (here are 10 startups making these tools), or any company trying to build a piece of this energy management ecosystem — chips, wireless hardware, software, cell phone apps — you should probably start pitching FPL, ASAP. If the utility gets help from the stimulus package, it wants to start building out the network over the next two years.
Image courtesy of Tendril