Next: The wattcom boom

June 12, 2009
By Elisa Wood June 11, 2009 I was at a meeting about three years ago where state energy commissioners and power plant developers were debating new market rules, some to take effect almost immediately, others five years out. A wise commissioner looked around the room and said something like: “All that matters are the immediate […]

By Elisa Wood

June 11, 2009

I was at a meeting about three years ago where state energy commissioners and power plant developers were debating new market rules, some to take effect almost immediately, others five years out. A wise commissioner looked around the room and said something like: “All that matters are the immediate rules because everything will be different in five years. In fact, most of you won’t be working for the same company you are today.”

Lo and behold, he was right. When I think of the people at the meeting, most are already elsewhere – and only three years have gone by. Some of the companies they represented, major players in the fossil fuel arena, are struggling for survival.  And where is the commissioner who made the statement? He now works for a wind energy developer.

Who will be the new, big market entrants in the next five years?  Here is a clue: More and more energy announcements that come across my desk are not from energy companies. They are from IT companies: Google, Hewlett Packard, IBM.

This makes sense given that a necessary marriage between IT and energy must occur for the development of the smart grid and user-friendly energy efficiency devices. Clearly, the IT world sees opportunity in energy.

Farah Saeed, a senior consultant for Frost & Sullivan, put it this way: “In the coming years, competition expects to intensify as non-energy related IT focused companies expand their presence in the utility sector. Companies such as IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and HP acknowledge the fact that Internet-enabled grid applications present opportunities to serve the utility market. Networks developed to support AMI [advanced metering initiatives] technologies such as home area networking (HAN) and backhaul networks, as well as enterprise software to support asset management, invites the expertise of IT technology pioneers.”

I’m predicting a “wattcom” boom. Okay, maybe the name is corny. But catch up with me in five years – probably less. Let’s see who’s in the room.

Visit Elisa Wood at www.realenergywriters.com and pick up her free Energy Efficiency Markets podcast and newsletter.

About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

Twitter: @ElisaWood

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