Will the Microsoft-Google Battle Move to Energy Data?

The big news this week for Google (s GOOG), and anyone interested in smart meters and energy management, is that the company has partnered with utilities like San Diego Gas & Electric and meter maker Itron (s ITRI) for its online energy management tool PowerMeter. But according to SmartGridToday, Itron and SDG&E have also been working with Microsoft (s MFST) on web-based energy data tools.

SmartGridToday quotes Philip Mezey, COO of the North American division of Itron, as saying that Itron is working with Microsoft to develop “portlets,” or web applications for energy consumers. In San Diego, Itron is providing a “mass-market, customer-care product built on Microsoft technology” so that SDG&E customers can “see all of this energy information” on an SDG&E customer web site. Mezey tells SmartGridToday that the Google and Microsoft partnerships aren’t related.

Google’s smart meter energy management effort is clearly a lot more extensive and aggressive than Microsoft’s, but it’s interesting that Microsoft has also chosen to jump into the web-based energy data market (it’s curious that they were so quiet about it, though). Utilities that are slightly more uncomfortable with Google’s strong ideology that energy information should be free, easy to access and owned by the consumer, could feel more comfortable working with Microsoft — Microsoft’s more traditional method of doing business (often closed controlled systems) is more closely aligned with utilities than Google’s. Will Microsoft battle Google over the smart meter the same way its been fighting Google on the web and PC?