3 Smart Grid Fundings This Week

Despite some reports, we haven’t seen smart grid firms struggling to raise money — particularly not this week. I’ve seen three investments in the smart grid space — from smart grid network infrastructure, to in-home energy displays — over the past couple of days, bringing in a total of more than $20 million for the three deals.

Investments included $14 million raised by smart grid communications player Tantalus, $6.73 million raised by home energy management player ecobee, and $1.5 million raised by long time building energy management firm Lucid Design Group.

While this month has seen a shockingly large flood of greentech startups filing funding documents, it’s interesting to see that the smart grid firms are still getting funding from the VC community. Tantalus’ funding was led by RedPoint Ventures, Lucid Design Group’s funding was led by Dry Creek Ventures, and ecobee’s came from the Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund (OETF), JLA Ventures and Tech Capital Partners.

I think there will be a whole lot more smart grid funding over the coming months. Particularly because the smart grid stimulus funds haven’t really trickled down yet to the vendors. Silver Spring CEO Scott Lang said at the Cleantech Investor Summit on Wednesday that his utility customers that have won funds don’t seem to have deployed them yet. So later on in 2010 I think we’ll start to see a boom in smart grid projects, which means the companies trying to sell to those utilities will try to ramp up to compete (i.e. some will raise money). And investors will be watching all of the utility deals announced and will be looking for investments to make.

A big area for innovation and investment will be the next generation of smart grid applications that will be rolled out on top of the infrastructure. Now that the utilities are making the network investment, what are they going to do with it? That’s an idea I argued about in this GigaOM Pro article on How Investors Can Avoid the Smart Grid Bubble (subscription required).

Earth2Tech is also holding an intimate exclusive event on the morning of January 28 at our San Francisco offices specifically looking at what will be the next generation of smart grid applications. We’ll be featuring a town-hall style discussion led by PG&E’s Andy Tang, Silver Spring Network’s Scott Lang, Foundation Capital’s Warren Weiss, and EcoFactor’s John Steinberg. We have a few seats left for the discussion, so if you would like to participate email me at Katie AT gigaom.com. We’ll also be streaming it live online at Earth2Tech, so catch it there if you can’t make it down.

Image courtesy of Tantalus.

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