One benefit of GE launching its smart grid challenge last year is that it has created a decent potential shopping list. Tuesday morning, GE said it has acquired one of its grid challenge winners: Irish powerline monitoring company FMC-Tech. GE didn’t disclose the size of the acquisition, but the deal follows GE investing more heavily in technology for the smart grid, including buying up smart meter tech startup Remote Energy Monitoring in January, and smart grid network testing and management company Opal Software in October of last year (see our smart grid acquisition list).
FMC-Tech, founded in 2001, fits cables with sensors that can measure current and conductor temperature and can send that information to a controller that then sends it back to the utility via a cellular connection. The technology provides power line monitoring for utilities and utilities can identify power line outages more easily and quickly. GE also says the monitoring system can integrate with the smart meter and energy management systems throughout a smart grid.
GE is one of the 5 big smart meter makers, and it is also a power gear provider, and has been increasingly looking to add smart grid software and networking technology between the meter and the substation. FMC-Tech will become part of GE Energy Services’ Digital Energy Smart Substation business.
GE launched its smart grid challenge last year, which included a $100 million investment from GE to allocate to innovative smart grid companies. A group of venture firms — including Kleiner Perkins, Foundation Capital, Emerald Technology Ventures, and Rockport Capital — put up a matching $100 million for the challenge as well.
Back in November, GE named 12 winners and five “innovation award winners” from its current challenge submissions. The 12 winners split about $55 million in awards between them and included some well-known names like energy billing company OPower, cellular home energy startup Consert, data center efficiency firm SynapSense, tinting window maker Soladigm, commercial building energy company Scientific Conservation, and energy storage company SustainX. There were also some companies I hadn’t heard of before on GE’s list, like solar hot water company ClimateWell, EV charging data management company Columbia Engineering, green data center company Joule-X, distribution automation software company Sentient Energy, and grid security company Secure RF.
And of course powerline monitoring company FMC-Tech was on that list. The company has now officially graduated.