GE EFS Invests in Broadband-Over-Power Line Technology
CURRENT Communications Group, LLC, the leader in broadband over power line (BPL) networks, announced today $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 strategic equity investors are TXU Corp. (NYSE: TXU), 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. (NYSE:GE); EarthLink, Inc. (NASDAQ: ELNK), which will serve as a retail provider of CURRENT's broadband services; and Sensus Metering Systems (Bermuda 1) Ltd., a leader in water, gas and electric utility metering and automatic meter–reading solutions. Existing equity investors include Duke Energy Corporation (NYSE: DUK); EnerTech Capital Partners; Goldman, Sachs & Co. (NYSE: GS); Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG); Hearst Corporation; and Liberty Associated Partners, LP, an investment partnership between Liberty Media Corporation (NYSE: L) 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. For the first time, an electric utility can monitor and control – in real time – the millions of components in the electric distribution network, 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.
"This technology provides utilities with a more intelligent, real–time and secure power grid that should help conserve energy, reduce electricity disruptions and protect critical infrastructure," said Alex Urquhart, president and CEO of GE Energy Financial Services. "Through our Energy Financial Services and Global Media & Communications businesses, GE's investment in CURRENT furthers our mission to grow by supporting innovative energy delivery technology."
Approximately $270 billion is spent annually in the United States for electricity, with demand expected to grow 40 percent by 2020. A Smart Grid 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 percent to 10 percent, carbon dioxide emissions by 13 percent to 25 percent, and the costs of power–related disturbances to business by 87 percent.
In Texas, CURRENT is deploying the first BPL–enabled Smart Grid with TXU Electric Delivery, a subsidiary of TXU Corp., which will create the nation's most advanced electric distribution infrastructure serving more than two million homes and businesses including the Dallas–Forth Worth area. 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 superior consumer broadband service, including a range of services such as interactive gaming and emerging multimedia applications. High–performance Internet, voice, and video service will be available to residential and business subscribers simply by plugging into an ordinary electric outlet.
"With high–speed support for both uploads and downloads and ease of deployment, CURRENT BPL gives us another viable alternative to the broadband services we now provide," said Garry Betty, EarthLink, president and CEO. "As a leading Internet provider, EarthLink is working with companies like CURRENT to deliver next–generation broadband service needed by today's home and business users to better access videos, large batches of pictures and other online content."
"Our deepening partnership with a range of companies, including our investors, demonstrates just how vital our utility and communication solutions are becoming in fueling the growth of the digital economy," said William H. Berkman, chairman and co–founder of CURRENT. "These investments recognize that the future lies in providing a choice to consumers in their use of both electricity and communications. CURRENT helps utilities respond to the calls of federal and state regulators to upgrade their infrastructure, while giving businesses and consumers control over their electricity usage and access to the next generation of communications services and content."
About CURRENT Communications Group
CURRENT Communications Group, LLC, a privately held company based in Germantown, MD, is the leading provider of integrated utility solutions which enable electric distribution companies worldwide to deploy and manage a Smart Grid based on CURRENT's BPL technology. CURRENT's solutions allow consumers to manage their own electricity usage while at the same time allowing the electric utility to monitor and control the network, resulting in reduced costs, increased reliability and environmental improvements. At the same time, CURRENT is a fullyintegrated communications service provider, offering high–performance broadband communications to consumer and business users over the existing electric distribution infrastructure. Further information about CURRENT is available at www.currentgroup.com.
CURRENT Communications Group, LLC
Melissa Kresse, Financial Dynamics