Toshiba acquires smart grid startup Consert

After buying Landis+Gyr close to two years ago, Toshiba is making another, albeit, much smaller acquisition in the smart grid sector. Last week Toshiba announced that it plans to acquire startup Consert, which had been building a smart home service. I heard about this as a rumor at DistribuTECH last month, but the Landis+Gyr and Toshiba PR folks wouldn’t comment on it.

Founded in 2008, Consert connects devices in the home like a water heater, heating and air conditioning units, pool pumps, and thermostats. The connected devices all talk to a smart meter, which has a Consert gateway inside, and Consert had been utilizing Verizon’s 3G network to connect back to its data center.

The Consert service monitors the energy consumption of these devices and uses them to participate in automated energy efficiency programs. Overall Consert had said its system can help a home owner save 10 to 20 percent on an energy bill. The company had done some trials in Fayetteville, N.C., with Rockwood Electric Utility, with CPS Energy, and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, but I hadn’t heard of many large commercial deployments.

Consert had managed to bring in a variety of high profile backers including GE Energy Financial Services, Verizon Ventures, Qualcomm and Constellation Energy. The company had raised at least $25 million.

The companies wouldn’t disclose the terms of the deal. It seems to me like this is yet another one of those startups that found itself knee-deep in the valley of death between pilots and commercial deployments and needed more funding or an acquirer to gear up. Toshiba says Consert will be integrated into Landis+Gyr.

The Consert service is also the latest startup to look to tackle the Internet of Things sector, where everything has a connection to deliver greater functionality. Check out Stacey Higgenbotham’s awesome Internet of Things primer this morning.