Today in Cleantech

The deal that Nest struck with Texas energy provider Reliant to have the energy retailer provide a Nest thermostat free in exchange for a two year energy contract says a lot about the potential of deregulated energy markets. In Texas the energy generator is separate from the retailer (the company that sends you your bill). You often have multiple players in each part of the market. The theoretical benefit of all this is that the retailer has an incentive to strike the best deals with transmission companies and generators as well as distinguish itself with its customers. And a free Nest thermostat sounds like a great way to separate yourself from the crowd.

Utilities embrace Green Button energy data project

Nine more utilities, and three large energy vendors, announced support on Thursday for the Green Button project, which enables utility customers to download their energy consumption data with a click of a button and also use that data for energy-saving apps.

Today in Cleantech

I’m wrapping up my visit to Houston for the Texas Electricity Professionals Association‘s fall conference, and thought I’d share some more information on the state of electricity competition/deregulation. According to Taff Tschamler, executive director at utility consultancy KEMA, the take-up of competitive power offerings has been far greater in the commercial and industrial sectors, which has grown to about 50 percent this year from about 25 percent in 2003. That makes sense, since C&I customers have a lot more incentive to get intimately involved with their power supplies. But only about one-quarter of residential customers now buy power from competitive suppliers Tschamler said — up from about 10 percent in 2003, but still pretty low. Technology that helps homeowners view, price and manage their power consumption in a more real-time way could help open up that market. Texas, with its big push into residential smart metering and a Web portal to bring the data they collect to customers and power sellers alike, will be a good place to test the business propositions behind those home energy management offerings. 

Houston Powers City With Hot Air

The city of Houston has signed a contract to get a quarter of its municipal government power needs from wind farms. This is significant not only because Houston is the oil and gas capital of the country, but because it needs a lot of power. It’s the fourth-largest city in the nation, and it’s built on a swamp near the tropics. Those government air conditioning needs are not small.

Houston officials have contracted with Goldman Sachs and Reliant Energy to provide 40 MW of power at 7.5 cents per kilowatt hour for the next five years. The city uses an average of 160 MW to power its municipal buildings (this doesn’t include residential or business users in the city). The cost is less than the current 9.5 cents per kilowatt hour that natural gas providers are offering.

But here’s where it gets really interesting. The Wall Street Journal, in reporting on this deal, said:

The power that the city buys won’t necessarily come directly from wind turbines. Because wind power is intermittent — it is produced only when the wind blows hard enough — the city’s contract calls for back-up power to come from conventional sources. But the energy companies will certify that an equal and offsetting amount of power will be produced by Texas wind farms.

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Add a port replicator though an ExpressCard slot

ReplicatorAs the move away from PCMCIA slots ensues, I suspect we’ll see more ExpressCard peripherals over the next few years. This port replicator is a perfect example, although at $300 it’s nearly the price of a wireless USB dock. Still, if you need four more USBs, DVI & VGA out, Gigabit Ethernet and audio connections galore, this might be a nice gift under the Christmas tree. Bear in mind you’ll be limited in your travels with this particular model as it requires power through the AC adapter. Maybe this doesn’t belong under the tree, but on your desk instead?While we’re on the subject of ExpressCards: other than modem cards, what are you using your ExpressCard slot for these days? Shout out some peripherals and the machine(s) you’re using them with!(via SlashGear)

Vid-Biz: Condé Naste, Spotzer, FCC

Condé Naste’s Web Strategy Yielding Results; magazine publisher has found success by creating web sites around topics, not individual magazine titles; also has struck a deal with YouTube. (The Wall Street Journal)
Spotzer Media Raises 10 Million Euros; financing of the video ad company was led by Sierra Ventures, with European Directories participating; money will be used to fund U.S. expansion. (News & Observer)
FCC Scales Back Cable Regulation Stance; decision over whether cable industry had grown too dominant postponed, but all not lost as new rule makes it cheaper for programmers to lease channels. (The New York Times)
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