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http://xrl.us/bij3ti A new report from Pike Research forecasts that 276 million smart grid communications nodes will be shipped worldwide from 2010 to 2016, with annual shipments increasing dramatically from 15 million in 2009 to 55 million by 2016... this will represent a total industry investment of $20.3 billion during the seven-year forecast period, with annual revenues increasing from $1.8 billion in 2009 to $3.1 billion by 2016..."

Thursday, December 29, 2011

9 smart grid predictions for 2012

9 smart grid predictions for 2012
By Jesse Berst Dec. 29, 2011, 3:18pm PT 2 Comments

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IDC Energy Insights is one of the smart grid sector’s top research firms. Each year it issues its top 10 predictions for energy and utilities. I attended this year’s webinar and came away with my own version, which I’ve shared with you below.

I want to emphasize that my version overlaps with IDC’s but is not precisely the same. These are my interpretations and reactions to IDC’s predictions. In many areas I agree with IDC. In a few others, I feel they may have over- or under-stated the issue. Case in point: I list only nine predictions and they are not all the same as the ones IDC chose to highlight.

To see the “official” top 10 list, go to this link, scroll down until you see the list of web conferences, and click on Energy – Utilities. You can replay the webinar and/or download the slides.

1). Utility mergers will accelerate.

2). Demand will flatten or even fall. After decades of sure, steady growth, consumption growth in North America has flattened and may begin to fall after 2012. This could force a difficult adjustment in an industry that has come to expect growth in consumption.

3). Municipals and co-ops will drive new AMI deployments. Their focus will be communications networks that can handle next territories (urban and rural). And that can handle multiple applications for multi-utilities (electric, gas, water).

4). Distribution automation spending will continue to accelerate thanks in part to short payback periods (18 to 36 months typically).

5). Utilities will invest heavily in analytics to manage Big Data. Utilities are getting large volumes of data from smart meters. Now they’re trying to figure out how to get business value from that information. And how to use it for “real-time” trading and “real-time” operations.

6). Smart buildings will become important to utilities. 25 states have energy efficiency standards or targets. Smart buildingscan help meet such goals. The building energy analytics market will double between 2012 and 2015, jumping from $193 billion to $402 billion.

7). 2012 is the make or break year for electric vehicles. That is when we will be able to see whether they will go mainstream anytime soon.

8). Grid-scale lithium-ion battery prices will plunge. Prices are not cheap yet, but they are already half what they were two years ago, with further big drops on the way.

9). Solar PV growth will moderate, falling to roughly 25% per year. It appears current grant programs will be allowed to expire, reducing the incentives to install solar PV.

Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News.com. He consults to smart grid companies seeking market entry advice and M&A advisory. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the US and abroad, he also serves on the Advisory Council of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Energy & Environment directorate.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chicago Tribune: Electric Smart Grid Repairs Itself !!!

Electric smart grid repairs itself
8:28 a.m. CDT, September 28, 2011

Imagine an electric grid that tells the power company when it is down without you having to call in the problem! John Estey, CEO of President of S&C Electric Company demonstrates how an electric smart grid works as Illinois business leaders gather to voice their support for the Illinois Infrastructure Modernization Act. (Nancy Stone, Chicago Tribune)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Duke Energy/China World Smart Grid - November 8-11, 2011 Beijing, China

SEE DUKE ENERGY !!!

David W. Mohler, Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer, DUKE Energy-Smart Grid Deployments in the United States Experience and Strategy from a Large Utility

November 8-11, 2011
Beijing, China


page 20 of 29

Think of the Communications Node as an iPhone for the modern grid. It is a device with enough storage and processing power to enable an ecosystem of data applications that exist today and will exist tomorrow.


John J. Joyce, President and CEO of Ambient Corporation, commented, "We are excited to see the first large-scale deployment of Ambient Smart Grid communications technologies and equipment continue to expand and perform as designed to the mutual benefit of Ambient and Duke Energy. We have now delivered approximately 60,000 communications nodes through the second quarter as part of the Ohio Smart Grid implementation."

See pages 19, 20,21 Ambient Corp Smart Grid Communication Node - heart of Duke Energy Smart Grid

DUKE ENERGY Smart Grid for Mexico



These smart meters send metering data from the meter back to the Ambient Communications Node via Power Line Carrier (PLC) technology. These smart meters have internal disconnect/reconnect capabilities.

These communication boxes send metering data (gas & electric) back to our systems.

Friday, September 16, 2011

9/16/11 Update: Smart Grid stocks rallied in South Korea !!!

"Companies involved in the smart grid business surged by the daily limit after electricity shortages caused widespread blackouts across South Korea.

"The smart grid technology helps store power that can be used in an emergency. If (state utility) KEPCO had stored surplus electricity, there would have been no big confusion yesterday," said Han Seul-kee, an analyst at Woori Investment & Securities."

Re: http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSL3E7KG0JF20110916?irpc=932

Friday, September 2, 2011

Could Ambient (AMBT) Double Again?  

Could Ambient Double Again?  Could Ambient Double Again?   Released on Wednesday, August 31, 2011, 8:00 AM ET Pittsburgh, PA (SpeculatingStocks) - Ambient (AMBT) recently moved from the OTCBB to the NASDAQ. In July, AMBT moved from around the $7.00 level to around the $14.00 level and has since given back its gains with AMBT now around $7.00 again. AMBT reported outstanding second quarter results on August 10th with record revenue of approximately $16 million and net income of approximately $2.5 million and cash from operating activities of approximately $5.9 million. The company even reported a backlog of approximately $68 million. Ambient's technology is white hot right now. What their technology does is allow utility equipment such as home power meters to communicate with the electric power grid. Their technology is known as the Ambient Smart Grid®. The smart grid industry is growing and Ambient is a key player in it. The main thing holding back AMBT shares right now is that the company has filed plans for a public offering of up to $57.5 million in stock. Obviously investors aren't fond of the dilution and uncertainty it brings, but once the shares are absorbed, AMBT should be quite an attractive play. We don't believe that we'll see AMBT double in the short-term from here, but AMBT's fundamentals are solid and exciting as well as the industry that they are particpating in.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ambient Corp Smart Grid Communication Node - the Brain of Duke Energy's Smart Grid !!!


John J. Joyce, President and CEO of Ambient Corporation, commented, "We are excited to see the first large-scale deployment of Ambient Smart Grid communications technologies and equipment continue to expand and perform as designed to the mutual benefit of Ambient and Duke Energy. We have now delivered approximately 60,000 communications nodes through the second quarter as part of the Ohio Smart Grid implementation."

See pages 19, 20,21 Ambient Corp Smart Grid Communication Node - heart of Duke Energy Smart Grid

DUKE ENERGY Smart Grid for Mexico

http://www.iea.org/Platform/workshops/Mexico/4_Patterson.pdf


These smart meters send metering data from the meter back to the Ambient Communications Node via Power Line Carrier (PLC) technology. These smart meters have internal disconnect/reconnect capabilities.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Who's Who of Smart Grid, Including 60 Utility Speakers, to Gather at GridWeek 9, 12-15, 2011


Published: Friday, Aug. 19, 2011 - 7:41 am
/PRNewswire/ -- Exactly who is the who's who of the Smart Grid? Those attending the fifth annual GridWeekconference in Washington, D.C. Utilities, regulators, policymakers, advocates and technology leaders from the U.S. and abroad will fill the halls of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center from Sept. 12-15 to chart the way forward for the Smart Grid.
With a focused effort placed on bringing utilities into these discussions, an advisory board of 14 stakeholder organizations secured 60 utility speakers for GridWeek -- representing one-third of the200+ speakers.
Sharing hands-on knowledge from global Smart Grid deployments, utility speakers will share what they've learned, challenges ahead, and next-step requirements in more than 40 unique sessions comprising GridWeek's agenda.
The Who's Who: In addition to utility speakers, GridWeek is bringing together the Smart Grid elite:
  • Regulators and consumer advocates: With representation from NARUC and FERC, as well as a variety of advocacy organizations, GridWeek is bringing consumer and regulatory topics to the forefront.
  • Analysts: With eight major analyst partnersGridWeek attendees can expect fresh research and perspectives.
  • International delegates: From senior vice presidents of utilities in Europe, to the highest energy officials and utility chief executives in India, GridWeek is gathering dozens of international delegates to deliver a broad global perspective.
"EEI has been proudly participating in GridWeek since its inception, and every year without fail I know we walk away from the week with unique insights and actionable approaches toward our crucial role in the grid's continuing evolution," said Chris Eisenbrey, Director, Business Information Group, Edison Electric Institute. "This year, GridWeek will again challenge attendees to think and learn more about how electric utilities are planning to transform the way the world thinks about energy, as well as how our industry is organizing itself to take advantage of this cross-cutting and disruptive movement."
For more information, visit: http://gridweek.com/2011/#about.
Clasma Events, Inc. specializes in strategic conferences at the center of the worldwide energy discussion. Focusing on Smart Grid, connectivity, and the new energy economy, Clasma's major events include ConnectivityWeek, GridWeek, and Grid-Interop.
Clasma, GridWeek, ConnectivityWeek, and Grid-Interop are trademarks or registered trademarks of Clasma International Corporation. Other product or service names mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.
SOURCE Clasma Events, Inc.

2nd World Smart Grid CHINA FOCUS 2011-- Beijing, China Nov. 8-11, 2011



SEE DUKE ENERGY !!!

David W. Mohler, Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer, DUKE Energy-Smart Grid Deployments in the United States Experience and Strategy from a Large Utility

November 8-11, 2011
Beijing, China


page 20 of 29

Think of the Communications Node as an iPhone for the modern grid. It is a device with enough storage and processing power to enable an ecosystem of data applications that exist today and will exist tomorrow.


John J. Joyce, President and CEO of Ambient Corporation, commented, "We are excited to see the first large-scale deployment of Ambient Smart Grid communications technologies and equipment continue to expand and perform as designed to the mutual benefit of Ambient and Duke Energy. We have now delivered approximately 60,000 communications nodes through the second quarter as part of the Ohio Smart Grid implementation."

See pages 19, 20,21 Ambient Corp Smart Grid Communication Node - heart of Duke Energy Smart Grid

DUKE ENERGY Smart Grid for Mexico



These smart meters send metering data from the meter back to the Ambient Communications Node via Power Line Carrier (PLC) technology. These smart meters have internal disconnect/reconnect capabilities.

These communication boxes send metering data (gas & electric) back to our systems.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Duke Energy Research: Enabling a More Intelligent Grid- Duke Energy publishes white paper outlining the company's innovative approach to building a smart grid communications architecture

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Aug. 8, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK - News) today released a new white paper, Developing the Communications Platform to Enable a More Intelligent Grid, which outlines an innovative approach for modernizing our electricity grid. (see Page 6 and 7)



David Masters, Duke Energy manager of technology development and white paper author, outlines his vision to provide affordable, reliable and clean energy for homes and businesses by using a digital communications network to modernize our century-old delivery system.
Masters, along with Duke Energy chief technology officer David Mohler, will hold a webinar on Wednesday, August 10, starting at 11:30 a.m. ET to discuss the research.
"A digital power grid enabled by an open communications network will allow us to meet our nation's continually growing energy needs in a sustainable way," said Masters. "What's more, this system would allow us to integrate technologies that have already proven effective in other industries in a way that is both flexible and scalable. Utilizing this technology in our grid could significantly improve energy efficiency, reliability and affordability."
To access full text of the white paper, please click here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ambient Corporation Announces Preliminary Second Quarter Revenue


NEWTON, Mass., July 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --Ambient Corporation(OTCBB: ABTG), a leading provider of integrated networking and communications solutions that allow utilities to enable smart grid applications and enhanced communication platforms, announced today preliminary revenue for the second quarter ended June 30, 2011 of approximately $16.0 million, representing a 250% increase over the comparable quarter in 2010 and a 33% increase over the first quarter of 2011.

John J. Joyce, President and CEO of Ambient Corporation, commented, "We are excited to see the first large-scale deployment of Ambient Smart Grid communications technologies and equipment continue to expand and perform as designed to the mutual benefit of Ambient and Duke Energy. We have now delivered approximately 60,000 communications nodes through the second quarter as part of the Ohio Smart Grid implementation."

Continued Mr. Joyce, "As of June 30, 2011, we have over $60 million of orders in backlog that we expect to be fulfilled through the remainder of 2011 and into fiscal 2012. Based upon our strong performance year-to-date and our expected delivery schedule for the remainder of 2011, we expect total revenue to be approximately $50 to $55 million for fiscal year 2011, up from $20.4 million for 2010."

In addition to announcing preliminary second quarter record revenue, the Company announced that the previously approved reverse stock split was effected on July 18, 2011, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on a 1-for-100 basis. The reverse split, which the Company's Board of Directors and stockholders approved earlier this year, is expected to improve the Company's prospects of successfully listing its common stock on the Nasdaq Capital Market. Due to the reverse stock split, Ambient's common stock will trade under a new CUSIP number, 02318N 201, and will temporarily trade under the symbol "ABTGD" for 20 trading days beginning July 20, 2011, after which time the symbol will revert to "ABTG." More information on the reverse stock split is available in the Company's information statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on February 28, 2011.

All data are preliminary and subject to revision based upon the Company's completion of its ordinary closing procedures.  These preliminary results should not be viewed as a substitute for full interim financial statements prepared in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.  

For more information about the Ambient Smart Grid® communications platform, visit www.ambientcorp.com.

Friday, July 15, 2011

June 30, 2011 DUKE ENERGY and AMBIENT CORP Smart Grid for Mexico

http://www.iea.org/Platform/workshops/Mexico/4_Patterson.pdf

DUKE ENERGY –ESTRATEGIA PARA SMART GRIDS
Brad Patterson
SENER –IEA –CEPAL Workshop
Mexico City
30 de junio, 2011


pp. 19, 20, 21

These smart meters send metering data from the meter back to the Ambient Communications Node via Power Line Carrier (PLC) technology. These smart meters have internal disconnect/reconnect capabilities.

These communication boxes send metering data (gas & electric) back to our systems.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Smart Grid Companies The smart grid dream team: Surprising results?

Jun 29, 2011

Search Amazon.com for ipad 2 accessories

In our Smart Grid Dream Team Challenge you had your chance to propose a merger of two companies you think should be joined at the smart grid hip. Our editors pared the nominations to the selection that appears below; the words are those of the person who suggested the match. Check them out and then vote for the union you think could create the ultimate smart grid dream team.

·         GE and Silver Spring Networks -- Two companies I see so closely aligned in terms of competency, compatibility, and vision that some may already view the demarcation line between them as being dotted rather than solid leads to my "Dream Team" nomination... GE and Silver Spring Networks. (More about GE smart grid)
·         Ambient and Cisco -- Utilities Telecom Council gave Ambient Corp. a Top Smart Grid Award this year and Cisco could take them to new levels with a merger. (More about Cisco smart grid)
·         GE and Infrax Systems -- GE should buy Infrax Systems.  They have a team of heavyweights … they have solutions that are recommended by several government agencies and keep upgrading to stay on top.
·         Silver Spring Networks and iDirect -- I would suggest that a ROCKING pairing would be Silver Spring Networks and iDirect.  SSN still represents the "smartest guys in the room" approach to smart grid integration; and iDirect has the best next-gen satellite technology... Brains and beauty (a.k.a. ubiquity).  What's not to like? 

Do you see a dream in the mix? Vote in the Quick Poll and add any comments in the Talk Back form below.

http://www.smartgridnews.com/artman/publish/news/The-smart-grid-dream-team-Surprising-results-3784.html

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

White House Unveils National Smart Grid Strategy Framework

The Obama Administration has revealed four key pillars for enabling a next-generation power grid, including consumer empowerment and guarding cyber threats.

By Elizabeth Montalbano InformationWeek
June 13, 2011 07:46 PM

The White House has unveiled a policy framework for a national smart grid strategy, core components of which are to secure the energy grid from cyber threats and improve data management and security so consumers have better access to information about their energy costs and consumption.
The 108-page report--"A Policy Framework for the 21st Century Grid: Enabling Our Secure Energy Future"--outlines in detail four aspects of smart-grid policy based on a foundation set up in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The subcommittee on Smart Grid of the National Science and Technology Council, Committee on Technology prepared the report.

Securing the U.S. power grid is one of four pillars the policy framework is based upon; the others are to enable cost-effective smart grid investments, unlock the potential for innovation in the electric sector, and empower consumers to make informed decisions, according to the report.

Enabling the U.S. energy industry to bring the nation's power grid into the digital age is one of the Obama administration's key technology goals. The White House in late 2009 unveiled $3.4 billion in grants to the industry as part of a stimulus package to develop and implement technologies such as smart meters, digital transformers, and automated power monitoring and management systems.

The policy report aims to set up a framework for implementing that technology efficiently, securing the connected power grid from cyber threats, and creating an energy framework that will put more control in the hands of consumers using energy.

To achieve security, the report proposes several policy actions. The first is to continue to develop open standards and guidelines by collaborating with the private sector companies that control much of the energy infrastructure. The report also recommends the implementation of performance measurements to advance cybersecurity-including risk management, regular evaluations, and ongoing monitoring.

Data management and security are key facets of the framework's pillar to empower consumers to make informed decisions about their power needs and consumption. The report proposes policy around data standards and requirements to make secure energy-consumption data available online to all customers as a better way to allow them to manage their own data.

To facilitate both data management and security, the White House also is suggesting policy allowing customers to permit third-party access to their data. This will facilitate single sign-on to websites that will allow them to view their energy-usage data alongside other information, according to the report.




http://www.informationweek.com/news/government/policy/230600089

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Smart Grid Technology: Profit from Digital Electricity's Global Boom !!!

http://oilandenergyinvestor.com/reports/SmartGrid_OESMA0111.pdf


Oil & Energy Investor is a newsletter that delivers stock market news and investment advice from around the world directly to your inbox...for free.

The U.S. and China could spend $120 billion on smart grid technology in the next four years.

China's smart grid market could triple to more than $60 billion by 2015. And the U.S. plans to match China's investment to keep pace with higher energy prices and economic competition.

But this isn't just a U.S.-China deal. Europe and Russia are both modernizing their electricity systems with new smart grid technology. And emerging economies like India and Brazil are turning to smart grids to solve their growing power demands.

A tidal wave of smart grid construction is about to hit the electricity markets across the globe. But if you hurry, you can still discover two perfect smart grid technology companies that could double or even triple their earnings as smart grids turn on lights around the world.

Learn all about these two companies and a bonus way to play the smart grid boom in our latest report.



Full Story: Access to the remainder of Dr. Kent Moors' free investor report on smart grid technology is reserved for Oil & Energy Investor subscribers, who receive in-depth news and expert investment advice, free of charge. To join and get our FREE report on smart grids, simply sign up below.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Re: New Report: Smart grid could cost $476B up from $165 billion in 2004 forecast !!!

Report: Smart grid could cost $476B
Rick Merritt

5/24/2011 11:43 AM EDT

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Costs and benefits of building a smart electric grid have more than doubled as the vision of a digital, networked power utility has expanded, according to a new report from the Electric Power Research Institute. Sensor networks are on the rise as one of the big and under-served opportunities in the diverse terrain of the smart grid.
The EPRI report estimated the cost of upgrading the U.S. grid could range from $338 to $476 billion, up from $165 billion in a 2004 forecast. Benefit estimates have also skyrocketed to a range of $1.2 to $2 trillion, up from $660 billion estimated in 2004.

EPRI's previous estimates did not include enabling plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles, renewable energy sources, grid-scale energy storage, distributed generation and demand response applications that let consumers adjust energy use based on changing energy prices. Benefits of a smart grid include reduced carbon emissions, energy savings and reduced blackouts that cost $10 billion per event.
Most of the costs of building a smart grid—an estimated $231 to $339 billion—are in the back-end electric distribution system, the report said. Smart grid costs also include as much as $32.3 billion in back-end IT systems for electric utilities and another $3.7 billion in cyber security hardware and software.

More. http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4216278/Report-Smart-grid-could-cost-476B

Monday, May 23, 2011

Duke Sees a Future With Cellular The mega-utility isn’t throwing mesh or PLC out the window, but it’s making the case that cellular has arrived.

Duke Sees a Future With Cellular

The mega-utility isn’t throwing mesh or PLC out the window, but it’s making the case that cellular has arrived.

Duke Sees a Future With Cellular
The iPhone references in the smart grid world usually revolve around consumer-facing appsthat will be unleashed once smart meters and communications networks are in place. But what about on the grid itself?
For Duke Energy, it sees every communication node “as an iPhone for the modern grid” in terms of building a future-proof and dynamic network, according to the recent white paper, “Duke Energy: Developing the Communications Platform to Enable a More Intelligent Electric Grid.”
The paper, authored by David Masters, Manager of Technology Development for Duke Energy, and issued at DistribuTECH, lays out a potential communications network for the mega-utility. There’s a little bit of mesh radio, a dose of powerline communications, and a commitment to leverage public carriers.
“Duke has no desire to be in the communications business,” Masters wrote. “We need to harness already existing expertise and capabilities that the cellular networks provide in designing, building and maintaining the communications.”
The paper is certainly not a PUC filing, and so it is not the final world in Duke’s smart grid deployment plans. But the decision to stick with cellular for the wide area network (WAN) does not come as a surprise to some experts.  “A lot of utilities are asking themselves if they want to be in the telecom business,” said David Leeds, Senior Manager for Smart Grid Research at GTM Research.
Bruce Walker, Vice President of Gridwise Alliance, testified to the Federal Communications Commission in 2009 on behalf of National Grid (where he worked at the time) that the FCC should consider allocating the broadband spectrum necessary to meet the future needs of smart grid. 
“Americans have become largely dependent upon energy and communication technologies and their existence and functionality is an integral part of our society,” he testified in 2009. “Today, we are on the precipice of a journey that will inextricably link these two technologies together and modernize the way we think about and use our resources.”
Until recently, however, utilities have been wary of relying on the public carriers for plenty of good reasons, including bandwidth, security, reliability, coverage and cost. Walker said that each of those issues need to be teased out individually, including making sure that during an emergency, such as the events of 9/11 or the blackout of 2003, the utility’s communications needs are at the top of the priority list.
Thought leaders in the industry, Walker noted, have been tackling these issues for some time. The telecoms have also been eager to play in this space, so prices have come down dramatically in the past two years. If a utility is big enough, like Duke, it has the luxury of being able to step back and really look at how it can utilize all of the resources in its region. “This was the thinking of where the industry needs to go,” said Walker. “If you could partner with a ATT or Verizon to develop the service, now you’ve saved a fortune and more importantly time and effort.” Mark Munday of Elster Solutions also told Greentech Media in December of last year that utilities would soon start making more use of the existing cellular networks.
Masters said this architecture was already being deployed in Ohio, where they are using utilizing the Verizon network, with the Ambient nodes and the Echelon PLC and meters for the majority of the Ohio deployment. The nodes have access to both internet and external ethernet, serial and USB interfaces.
Currently, the architecture uses the public carriers to connect to each distribution transformer and then uses Wi-Fi, powerline communications or 900 MHz to connect to endpoints such as meters, sensors and distribution automation equipment. Masters told Greentech Media that each region will see a unique solution as the technologies progress over time. “Duke Energy benefits from the economic and technical economies of scale that have been unlocked by the public wireless carrier ecosystem,” he wrote in the white paper.
The details of Duke’s vision also highlight that there is no single winner. For certain mission-critical applications, public carriers will likely never be the ideal choice. The muscle of Duke Energy, however, is creating opportunity for other smaller utilities that might not have the bargaining power that Duke has when they come to the table with the largest telecoms.
As the smart grid progresses, the relationships between utilities and telecoms will not only multiply, but deepen. “This solution is more adaptable,” said Walker. “I applaud the telecom and utility partnership, which has the opportunity to push the modernization of the grid.”

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Profitable Smart Grid Penny Stock Aims for a NASDAQ Listing

Tom Konrad CFA

A NASDAQ listing could bring a quick profit to investors who buy now, but beware the business risk.

Ambient Corp. (ABTG.OB) offers an Internet Protocol (IP) smart grid communications platform to electric utilities.  So far, they have exactly one customer: Duke Energy (DUK).  Duke selected Ambient's X-series communication node solution, which flexibly gathers data from multiple smart meters and relays it to the utility.  For instance, in some cases Duke is using Ambient's nodes to gather data from both Echelon Corporation's (ELON) smart meters using data over powerline technology, and Badger Meter's (BMI) smart gas meters which use a wireless mesh to deliver data.

Based solely on its deal with Duke, Ambient became profitable in the last quarter of 2010, and gained more ground in Q1 2011.  Yet as readers following the American Superconductor (AMSC)/Sinovel (601558.SS) saga know, over-reliance on a single customer can be very dangerous.  You can't get much more reliant on a single customer than Ambient is on Duke.

That said, Duke Energy is not a hyper-competitive Chinese wind company with investments in any of the company's competitors.  They are a regulated utility, and, as such, their moves are more transparent and conservative rather than the enigmatic and abrupt.  Major changes in Duke's strategy come out of the regulatory process, and are part of the public record.  Regulators also tend to prefer a go-slow approach, which means client acquisition for companies like Ambient is slow and painful, but also that their clients are less prone to fund competitors and start refusing deliveries with little warning. 

There are advantages to having Duke as a customer as well.  Duke has been a leader in smart grid deployment, and given the conservative nature of utilities, if a smart grid solution is seen to work well for Duke, other utilities will be more likely to adopt it than to opt for a technology that has not yet been widely deployed.  One potential market expansion may come from Duke's merger with the smaller Progress Energy.  But there is also the risk that Duke might switch to the technology from Progress energy's ownsmart grid project.  Overall, though, I think the merger will be good for Ambient, since their interoperability makes them a natural choice for a merging company trying to consolidate two systems.

Hoped-for NASDAQ listing

The single customer is the main reason to be wary of Ambient stock.  The reasons to be optimistic include the company's current profitability, strong balance sheet, and plans to aim for a NASDAQ listing.  The company's major shareholder, Vicis Capital, has given Ambient's board permission to conduct a reverse stock split to boost the company's current $0.08-$0.09 share price over the $4 threshold needed for a listing.  

The company is also working to raise their profile by retaining a PR firm, Elevate Communications of Boston.  I'm not sure when the firm was retained, but I received my first press release from them when Ambient released their 2010 results in February.  They contacted me again last week, although they did not respond when I requested an interview with the CEO in preparation for this article. I mainly wanted to ask him about their prospects for finding other customers, and why nothing has come of theR&D effort with ConEd in 2007.  Assessing why past potential deals did not materialize might give some insight into Ambient's future prospects.

That said, the fact that Ambient only has one customer is old news.  

What's new news is that the one customer has become lucrative enough to push Ambient into profitability.  I'm not sure how much of the current profitability is due to stimulus-related smart grid spending by Duke, but I trust that it will likely continue for a few more quarters, if only because Ambient does not seem to be in a hurry to complete their reverse split and get listed.  So I'm betting that there will be at least a few more good quarters to get investors excited and give a quick return to those who get in now.

Other investors seem to think so, too.  The stock price found a bottom around $0.075 and started moving upwards since the positive Q1 earnings and revenue numbers.

ABTG chart

Conclusion

I think Ambient is worth speculating on at the current $0.09 stock price.  If they manage to find another big customer soon, I'd consider them a good long term buy, but as it is I'm more comfortable holding for less than a year to take advantage of the currently growing profitability and potential listing.


DISCLOSURE: Long ABTG.OB.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Smart Grid Markets More EVs on the road = more headaches for utilities?

Quick Take: Despite the complaints, there are also things to like about EVs. In an era when demand growth is disappearing due to energy efficiency and demand response, EVs represent a source of growth. What's more, if utilities are allowed to control when EVs are charged, they will provide a much needed sponge for late night wind power. – Jesse Berst
 

A new report on a study conducted by Accenture says the majority of consumers would consider buying a plug-in EV (PEV) as their next car. But the report also makes it clear that consumers want to be able to charge their vehicles when and how they want, with no interference from utilities or charging service providers. That and other consumer likes and dislikes could raise the cost and complexity of managing electricity demand and grid congestion, not to mention the charging infrastructure.
 
Accenture's report, Plug-in Electric Vehicles: changing perceptions, hedging bets, says 67% of consumers are unwilling to allow charging service providers to limit when they can charge their cars, and that another 20% would accept limits only if they coincided with times periods they selected. 62% of the survey respondents don't want battery swapping, which could limit the opportunity for charging at off-peak times when battery swapping companies would be most likely to recharge their batteries.  And a total of 55% would only plug in their cars when they needed to charge them, and not every time they park, a factor that could mean less predictable charging patterns and reduced demand for public charging facilities.
 
PEV drivers also would need a more "supportive" infrastructure to fully adopt all-electric PEVs, although the report notes that 71% of respondents would prefer plug-in hybrids, which could run on gasoline or diesel when the battery charge is low. That's backed up by findings that 85% say all-electrics don't have the range they need for routine daily driving, and that  most don't think there are enough charging stations and that charging times take too long.
 
"As drivers get behind the wheel, they may become more open to fully electric vehicles and battery swapping services. But denser charging networks and fast charging units will be required if utilities want to drive up demand for all plug-in electric vehicles," said Matias Alonso, Accenture's global managing director for utilities. "The uncertain demand for plug-in electric vehicles and their impact on the grid means that energy providers must choose between running the risk of network overload and the need for large infrastructure investment, or early deployment of smart technologies that proactively manage local electricity demand and supply."
 
The Accenture study involved more than 7,000 people in 13 countries.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ambient Smart Grid Communications Platform Takes Top Honor in UTC's Smart Grid Product Category

Companies:Ambient Corporation
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Press Release Source: Ambient Corporation On Monday May 16, 2011, 8:00 am EDT
BOSTON, May 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Ambient Corporation (OTCBB:ABTG.ob - News), a pioneer in the development of smart grid communications infrastructure, is proud to announce it is the recipient of the top smart grid product award at this year's Utilities Telecom Council's (UTC) Telecom 2011 conference held in Long Beach, CA. The UTC named Ambient's X-3100 communications node and the AmbientNMS®, key components of the Ambient Smart Grid® communications platform, as best products in the Smart Grid / Smart Meter Product / Service category.

The Ambient Smart Grid communications platform provides utilities with a standards-based, two-way communication infrastructure from which to launch current and future smart grid applications. Ambient provides a universal architecture that empowers utilities to choose the right applications for different segments of their customer base, while the AmbientNMS acts as an intelligent information dashboard for network monitoring. Using the platform, utilities instantly gain a level of visibility into their network operations previously unavailable, including enhanced basic applications such as outage tracking and energy loss detection, and deploy more advanced applications such as smart metering, distribution automation and demand response.

"Winning this award is a strong endorsement of our successful approach to building out smart grid platforms.  Just as the UTC did, utilities are recognizing that smart grid applications cannot happen without an infrastructure that is designed to integrate different kinds of services -- in addition to smart metering," stated John J. Joyce, President and CEO of Ambient. "We have been building such a platform for over a decade and this recognition substantiates our commitment to that end."

The Ambient Smart Grid communications platform is currently supporting more than 38,000 nodes operating in select geographies, providing benefits to more than 250,000 endpoints in real world, operational grid environments.  

About The Utilities Telecom Council

The Utilities Telecom Council (UTC) is a global trade association dedicated to creating a favorable business, regulatory, and technological environment for companies that own, manage, or provide critical telecommunications systems in support of their core businesses. Founded in 1948, UTC now represents international electric, gas, and water utilities; natural gas pipelines; other critical infrastructure entities and other industry stakeholders. For more information, visit www.utc.org.

The UTC Product Awards, an annual competition held at UTC EXPO, highlight the very best in critical infrastructure industry technology. Open to all exhibitors, each entrant selects a product and submits it for entry in one of four categories: Best Wireless Equipment, Best Telecom Equipment, Best Telecom Services, and Best Smart Meter/Smart Grid Products/Service.  A panel of utility telecom and IT professionals reviews all entrants by visiting the booths and learning more about the product and service beyond the description submitted.  The judges then choose winners in each category based on innovation, functionality, economical feasibility, and practicality as applied to the utility industry.

About Ambient Corporation

Ambient designs, develops and markets Ambient Smart Grid® communications technologies and equipment. Using open standards-based technologies along with in-depth industry experience, Ambient provides utilities with solutions for creating smart grid communication platforms and technologies. Headquartered in Newton, MA, Ambient is a publicly traded company (OTCBB:ABTG.ob - News). More information on Ambient is available at www.ambientcorp.com.  

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Duke Energy and China-based ENN Group Sign EcoPartnership at U.S. State Department

Press Release Source: Duke Energy On Tuesday May 10, 2011, 10:00 am EDT
WASHINGTONMay 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton presided over a signing ceremony in which Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK - News) and China-based ENN Group joined forces to form an EcoPartnership with the city ofCharlotte, N.C., and the Chinese city of Langfang in Hebei Province.  
The EcoPartnership program is administered by the U.S. Department of State and the People's Republic of China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). It focuses on and encourages a wide range of collaborative public-private activities designed to stimulate innovation and sustainable economic development.
This EcoPartnership agreement follows a Jan. 18, 2011, announcement of a Duke Energy and ENN collaboration on the development of green cities in China and the U.S.  
The EcoPartnership will focus on cleaner energy generation, smart grid technologies, energy storage and energy efficiency solutions.
Duke Energy and ENN's initial EcoPartnership projects will involve testing of solar power generation, substation and community battery storage capabilities, grid management optimization and energy efficiency initiatives.
The larger EcoPartnership collaboration will be complemented by best-practice sharing at the municipal level. Specifically, the cities of Charlotte and Langfang (which is located approximately 40 miles southeast of Beijing) will collaborate on promoting energy efficiency education and encouraging local community action.
Others may join this EcoPartnership in the future, including universities, additional companies and other public entities.
David Mohler, Duke Energy's chief technology officer, and Dr. Zhongxue Gan, vice chairman and CTO of ENN Group, signed the EcoPartnership agreement in the presence of Secretary Clinton, Assistant Secretary of State Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones and NDRC Minister Zhenhua XieCharlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx and Langfang Mayor Aimin Wang also participated in the signing.