Today in Cleantech

Siemens is sitting on a huge pile of cash — what’s it going to spend it on? According to a Bloomberg article that ran over the weekend, the German engineering and power giant’s acquisition targets could include big U.S. smart meter maker Itron, among other potential smart grid buys. According to Bloomberg’s calculations, Siemens has the second-biggest cash reserves of any major corporation, with  18.5 billion euros ($27 billion), double its stash from three years ago. Siemens has made some smaller acquisitions, such as air conditioning automation company Site Controls. But it hasn’t participated yet in some of the billion-dollar acquisitions coming from its competitors in the smart grid space. France’s Schneider Electric has been buying tons of smart grid companies, most recently pledging to spend $2 billion to pick up smart grid software player Telvent — a move that tracks fellow grid giant ABB’s $1 billion pickup of grid software vendor Ventyx last year. General Electric has agreed to spend $3.2 billion to buy power conversion and automation company Converteam, and has been strategically investing in data center management and building automation companies. As for smart meters, Toshiba’s $2.3 billion purchase of Swiss metering giant Landis+Gyr has given the staid world of meter-making a new boost. Itron is publicly traded, so a move to buy Itron would be much more public than the behind-the-scenes bidding for the privately-held L+G. I’m curious to see what develops.

Schneider Electric to Buy Smart Grid Firm Telvent

Power gear giants continue their smart grid shopping spree. Schneider Electric is bidding to buy software maker Telvent for about $2 billion. The acquisition would give Schneider, which is a massive power equipment maker, more software and IT capabilities for the power grid.

Today in Cleantech

Big news on the smart grid acquisition front this morning from everyone’s favorite smart grid acquirer. French power gear giant Schneider Electric has announced a $1.36 billion offer for Telvent, the energy software and IT firm that’s one of the bigger players in smart grid deployments in Europe. The deal won’t come cheap for Schneider, which is offering $40 a share for Telvent, a 36-percent premium on its average share price over the past three months. Telvent, which is partially owned by Spanish energy giant Abengoa, could offer Schneider a major foothold in the IT side of the smart grid, where Schneider now primarily plays as a supplier of low and medium-voltage equipment and as a system integrator. That could give Schneider a competitive stance against rival ABB, which bought smart grid software vendor Ventyx last year. Of course, Schneider has been the most aggressive buyer in the smart grid space, with nearly a dozen deals announced over the past 12 months, including a $268 million purchase of energy procurement specialist Summit Energy, deals to buy data center equipment provider Lee Technologies and Indian cable provider Digilink. Schneider’s offer for Telvent would be one of its largest deals yet, though not the largest it has floated. In April, rumors surfaced that it would bid as much as $30 billion for conglomerate Tyco International, but after shareholders drove down Schneider’s shares, the company reassured investors it would seek smaller buys.

Today in Cleantech

IBM is one of a class of IT giants that want to become all things smart grid to all utilities. On Thursday morning, Big Blue announced its newest soup-to-nuts smart grid integration contract with Progress Energy. IBM is promising to help Progress integrate demand response, smart meter management, distribution grid management systems and others that are part of the utility’s $520 million project,. Progress operates in the Carolinas and in Florida, and is currently the target of a takeover by Duke Energy — a utility that has been working with Cisco’s smart grid offerings, though it hasn’t yet announced any specific projects. IBM and Cisco are two heavyweights in smart grid services and systems, and they’ve also partnered on a bunch of projects. Microsoft and Oracle have been busy building their own, similar smart grid “ecosystems” to give utilities a hand in the all-important task of making sure all their smart grid technologies work smoothly together. IBM also announced it had added TEPCO from Japan and KEPCO from South Korea to its list of utility partners, highlighting the international reach of its and its fellow IT giants in the smart grid field.

Echelon Takes the Smart Grid to the Edge

Echelon has launched a new software-hardware combo to control the distribution portion of the grid. The product has two notable aspects: it’s open to third-party developers, and its first customer will be utility Duke Energy.