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Echelon, which already makes technology for building control networks and smart meters, has taken a step toward controlling the edges of the grid as well. The San Jose, Calif.-based company has launched its Echelon Control System ECoS software platform for distribution grid networks, along with an Edge Control Node hardware device. Duke Energy — the only U.S. utility to use Echelon’s smart meters so far — has placed a $14.5-million order for the new system, and could expand it. One interesting part of Echelon’s ECoS play is its openness — the company has opened an SDK for third-party applications to be built to run on it, and ECoS is meant to be compatible with a host of other hardware devices on the grid. Distribution automation doesn’t get as much attention as smart meters, but it could be a larger market, according to Pike Research. Echelon will have plenty of competition from giants like Siemens, General Electric and ABB, not to mention Cisco and its dreams of networking the entire grid.