Why Are Corporate Giants Verizon, Qualcomm, GE Backing Smart Grid Start-Up Consert Inc?

consert inc image

Image via Consert Inc

Consert Inc, a smart grid software company, is getting some major backing by big companies. Verizon, Qualcomm, Constellation Energy and GE have pulled together $17.7 million to invest in promoting the company's software. Currently, Consert has software deployed with electric utilities in North Carolina and Texas, but they're looking to spread. And the backing by big companies with known names is a sign that corporate cooperation is going to be a big factor in advancing the smart grid so that every tech company can benefit.

According to the company, Consert's software helps consumers manage energy usage with easy, convenient online energy profiles and home devices, and it also meets the needs of utilities including monitoring capacity, transmission, renewable portfolio standards, and power variability from intermittent generation. It's one of many software companies all vying for a position among utilities and consumers for energy management in the upcoming smart grid, but with backing from heavy hitters like Verizon, GE and Qualcomm, they're likely going to move to the front of the pack rather quickly.

"Consert has united the interests of utilities with those of consumers and small businesses," said Consert CEO and President Jack Roberts. "This group of investors advances our vision of creating an integrated green energy solution with smart infrastructure, real-time communications, and intelligent in-home devices."

By providing measurable and verifiable capacity in the form of operating reserves for generating and distributing utilities, Consert creates a Virtual Peak PlantSM that can defer or supplant the need for additional conventional power plants at a cost that is 70 to 80 percent less than the current capital cost of a new gas-fired peak plant with an equivalent operating cost that is 60 percent less.

As the US looks to lower its dependence on fossil fuel and boost its clean energy portfolio, technology that can accomplish what Consert's Virtual Peak PlantSM claims is quite attractive. So why the backing from these companies? Well, it just makes smart business sense for the companies to work together for mutual benefit -- after all, we're looking at an industry that will be worth tens of billions of dollars over the next decade. Consert will use 3G wireless networks from Verizon, plus their software compliments GE's Ecomagination program and the products GE is creating to connect with the smart grid. Collaboration is key to getting the smart grid up and running so that everyone can profit through energy savings.

Tom Darden, a renowned green investor and Consert director who focuses on financial, environmental and social returns, states, "Consert enables distributing utilities to conserve, capture and monetize carbon savings," Darden explained. "Its application meets most states' Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards and it does not require any subsidy to make it economically viable. It also has the added operational benefits of providing regulation for wind power and real-time reporting of micro solar grids or other distributed generation resources to the utility."

As more major companies, from Cisco to Google, from AT&T; to Intel to IBM look at how they can get a piece of the smart-grid pie, we're sure to see more collaborations and investments such as this.

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