Besides the networking gear for utilities, Trilliant also manufactures devices and supporting software that manages energy usage in the home. This is another area that is experiencing rapid market growth and the potential for increased competition from both start-up ventures and building automation control giants.
White doesn’t plan to tinker with Trilliant’s core business model and added that despite his position with his former employer that GE New Energy Ventures has no plans to invest in Trilliant.
Trilliant has developed relationships with giants in the energy industry including GE and other smart meter manufacturers such as Itron, Landis+Gyr, and Sensus. Trilliant’s communications hardware is often installed in the smart meters made by these companies.
Silver Spring Networks competes with Trilliant for the smart meter communications hardware business. To date, that company has raised more than $140 million in venture capital.
White has experience managing power grid construction during his tenure at GE and also spent time with nuclear energy and energy services before he joined the venture capital investment team. White says he came to lead Trilliant because of the long-term potential of the company.
“In my analysis in this space, Trilliant is best in class, from a technology perspective,” said White.
To date Trilliant has shipped more than a million smart meters and other related devices along with its communications equipment. The gear uses the ZigBee wireless communications standard that is widely accepted within the smart metering industry. ZigBee has gained in popularity because it easily allows smart meters to communicate with other devices in the home as well as automation controls.
Trilliant has taken the ZigBee standard to another level by creating what it calls a “neighbourhood area network” that links smart meters with community data collection points from where it is transmitted to the utility.
That capability sets Trilliant apart from many of its competitors that rely on radio frequencies to transmit wireless communications. It remains to be seen what technology will win out in the end.
Standardization will become a major issue as companies line up to claim a part of the $4.5 billion in matching grants that the Obama administration has put aside to build the smart grid. The legislation was contained within the stimulus package signed into law last month. The law states that open standards must be used in order to qualify for a grant.
1100 Island Drive
Redwood City, CA 94065
3135 Easton Turnpike
Fairfield, CT 06828
2111 N Molter Road
Liberty Lake, Washington 99019
Sensus Metering Systems
8601 Six Forks Road – Suite 300
Raleigh, NC 27615
Silver Spring Networks
575 Broadway Street
Redwood City, CA 94063