Germantown, MD, May 4, 2006 à¯¿½ CURRENT Communications Group LLC, a provider of broadband over power line (BPL) networks, announced $130 million in equity investments from new and existing investors to accelerate the deployment of BPL-enabled “Smart Grid” electric utility networks and alternative broadband communication services.
New equity investors are TXU Corp., for which CURRENT will provide Smart Grid capability over the majority of TXU Electric Delivery’s lines, representing more than two million customers in Texas; General Electric Co.; EarthLink Inc., which will serve as a retail provider of CURRENT’s broadband services; and Sensus Metering Systems (Bermuda 1) Ltd., a water, gas and electric utility metering and automatic meter-reading solutions company.
Existing equity investors include Duke Energy Corp.; EnerTech Capital Partners; Goldman, Sachs & Co.; Google Inc.; Hearst Corp.; and Liberty Associated Partners LP, an investment partnership between Liberty Media Corp. and the Berkman family.
CURRENT uses BPL technology to create a multipurpose high-speed data network by placing advanced digital equipment on electric distribution networks. The technology is designed to allow an electric utility to monitor and control the millions of components in the electric distribution network, thereby hopefully improving its reliability, efficiency and security. The same technology can be used to manage gas and water distribution networks, as well as to enable consumers to monitor and control their own electricity usage.
Approximately $270 billion is spent annually in the United States for electricity, with demand expected to grow 40 percent by 2020. A Smart Grid, according to CURRENT, can reduce energy demand and the need for more power plants, while improving reliability. The Electric Power Research Institute projects that Smart Grid-enabled distribution could reduce electrical energy consumption by 5 to 10 percent, carbon dioxide emissions by 13 to 25 percent, and the costs of power-related disturbances to business by 87 percent, said a recent press release from CURRENT.
In Texas, CURRENT is deploying the first BPL-enabled Smart Grid with TXU Electric Delivery, a subsidiary of TXU Corp. A range of “smart” equipment and applications — automated meters, 24/7 power quality monitoring and remote security cameras — will be installed on the electric distribution network to provide TXU Electric Delivery with real-time information about power consumption, availability and quality, while enhancing security monitoring.
In addition to enabling a Smart Grid, the same communications network will deliver consumer broadband service. Internet, voice, and video service will be available to residential and business subscribers by plugging into an ordinary electric outlet.