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Duke Energy, Verizon Link Buildings via LTE

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Duke Energy has opted for the most advanced wireless connection available for a new building efficiency program in Charlotte, N.C.: Verizon Wireless’ (s VZ) 4G LTE network. On Thursday morning, Verizon Wireless and Duke Energy announced that the “Envision: Charlotte” project — which was announced last September to convince the owners of buildings in Charlotte to implement smart grid and energy efficiency technology — will use Verizon’s blazing fast wireless network.

The deal is the latest for Verizon in the smart grid sector (to learn more about the smart grid come to our Green:Net conference on April 21 in San Francisco). Earlier this month, Verizon said it had teamed up with meter data vendor eMeter to offer utilities cloud-based smart meter management services, and Verizon has also been working with a startup called Consert to use its 3G wireless network for in home energy management. Beyond wireless, Verizon launched one of the first energy management pilots with its fiber network in New Jersey in January.

Phone companies have been increasingly interested in leveraging their infrastructure and networks to offer machine-to-machine services like connecting smart meters (M2M is Taking Off From Kindle to Smart Grid, GigaOM Pro, subscription required). Phone companies can add only a limited amount of cell phone subscribers in the U.S., so M2M services will no doubt be a hot area of growth in the future.

The Envision Charlotte project will link 70 building in Charlotte, from companies like Bank of America (s bac), Wells Fargo (s wfc), Duke Energy (s duk) and city-owned buildings. Cisco (s CSCO) will provide the energy dashboards in the lobbies of the buildings, and according to an interview back in September with Cisco’s Laura Ipsen, Cisco will also use its Building Mediator product to control energy use in an initial two-building pilot. Ipsen also told us back then that Cisco will also deploy its EcoMap technology for the Charlotte area to show city residents a view of their energy use, carbon emissions and waste production by zip code.

Linking buildings via building automation systems, smart meters, energy management software and dashboards, will enable the building owners to manage and cut energy usage significantly. When the Envision: Charlotte project was announced at the Clinton Global Initiative, the group said it would help Charlotte’s buildings reduce energy consumption by 20 percent.

Duke Energy and Cisco said back in September that they would cover the $5.3 million (80 percent from Duke, 20 percent from Cisco) that they say it will cost to buy and install the energy efficiency tools, but the buildings owners just have to agree to it. It’s not a whole lot for the two large companies, but Cisco and Duke think that the energy saved will far offset the minor investment. And for Cisco and Verizon, deliver initial customers for their smart grid products.

For more research on building energy efficiency and the smart grid check out: