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No wonder Google and Microsoft dumped their home energy portals — utilities have that market sewn up. All three California utilities are under mandate to deliver energy and pricing information to customers, and plan beefed-up Web services to do it. SCE, for example, will spend $54.6 million by 2014 on SCE.com, and make the site’s energy and price data, rate signup options and efficiency and forecasting capabilities to its customers — all for free.
How can Google or Microsoft, let alone startups, compete with that? Helping utilities extend those portals’ functionalities, rather than trying to replace them, will be key. And given that the big three utilities are planning to spend more than $5.6 billion on their smart grid efforts over the next decade or so, the roadmaps released last week could be considered about the closest thing to a detailed plan of attack that smart grid companies could ask for. For more details on those rules and other smart grid deployment issues, see my weekly column at GigaOm Pro (subscription required).