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Today in Cleantech

Here’s an interesting development in opening the smart grid world to open applications development. Echelon, the San Jose, Calif.-based company that has launched a line of smart grid devices that it wants third parties to build applications for, has announced that its new Edge Control Node (ECN) system is now compatible with Verizon’s 3G wireless network. Echelon makes smart meters and building control systems that use powerline carrier communications technology, but in a smart grid world that’s demanding wireless options, opening its platform to multiple communications options is a good idea. Will that expanded communications capability lure more third-party developers to work on apps to run over Echelon’s “edge” devices? So far, the only announced customer of Echelon’s ECN products is Duke Energy, which has named Verizon as a key smart grid partner. Opening the smart grid to developers in the way that Android has opened the world of cellphones is an interesting but untested proposition for an industry that’s run according to utility rules that place reliability first, second and third on its list of priorities. Echelon and others working on open application development for the smart grid, such as cellular smart meter expert SmartSynch and apps partner Qualcomm, will need to prove reliability for any new apps to find their place on the grid itself.