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Tucson Utility Hooks Up with Tendril to Grab Smart Grid Stimulus

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Tendrilimage1Earlier this week we pointed out how the almost $4 billion in smart grid stimulus funds would provide a way for young startups to do deals with utilities, and a potential way for a startup to leapfrog the competition. Well, here’s another example of that: On Wednesday Tucson utility Tucson Electric Power (TEP) announced it has requested $25 million under a smart grid grant program that’s part of the stimulus package, and it plans to use the funds for a project that would include a residential demand response program from energy management startup Tendril.

The news from Tucson comes on the heels of the announcement earlier this week that Texas utility Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative plans to use startup Control4’s energy management tools for a smart grid project if it wins a smart grid stimulus grant. The lure of the stimulus funds seem to be encouraging utilities to place bets on energy management partners.

Tucson Electric Power’s project will use demand response programs and energy storage technology, including lithium-ion batteries and compressed air energy storage to better manage the solar power from utility-scale photovoltaic panels. The project will also include a lot of larger partners, including demand response company EnerNOC (s ENOC), smart meter maker Itron (s ITRI), defense contractor Raytheon, the University of Arizona, solar company Solon, Atlanta-based energy software company Ventyx, and consulting firms Summit Blue and Burns & McDonnell.

This is one of the few utility deals that Tendril has made public, though the company has a commercial rollout with Houston-based utility Relian and maintains that it has many more utility partners in the works. The five year old startup announced in June that it raised a $30 million third round of funding, making it one of the more well-funded energy management startups out there. Tendril’s energy management hardware and software is designed to help utilities and consumers communicate, and includes a wireless in-home energy display, a smart thermostat, a web-based energy portal, smart outlets and cell phone apps.

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