One of the region's Smart Grid startups is pulling up roots and moving to Texas to oversee its biggest commercial contract to date.
Consert, formed in 2007, has 60 employees in Raleigh and had hoped to benefit symbiotically from the Triangle's reputation as a national Smart Grid hub where nearly 60 companies work on Smart Grid technology.
But this afternoon Consert said it plans to leave just a handful of workers here as it embarks on an ambitious expansion plan in Texas with a goal of hiring more than 150 in the Lone Star State by 2014.
"It is unlikely will have a significant presence in Raleigh a year from now," said Consert CEO Jack Roberts. "We have found a much more aggressive environment in Texas than in North Carolina. It gives us a very real opportunity to show what we can do."
Consert makes a Smart Grid technology that lets homeowners and business owners manage energy use through an Internet portal that allows for remote control of thermostats, water heaters and other appliances.
The product saves customers about 6.5 percent on their power bill by giving customers detailed information and a means to manage their energy use, but some customers have reported much bigger savings.
As part of the announced move to Texas, Consert said it signed a long-term contract with CPS Energy, the municipal power agency for the City of San Antonio.
CPS plans to use the Consert product to shave 250 megawatts from its peak energy demand curve. To achieve that level of energy savings, CPS would have to sign up about 150,000 households and businesses -- nearly 20 percent of CPS customers -- on the Consert network, Roberts said.
CPS plans to offer its electricity customers the Consert service for free and could conceivably sign up more customers than the minimum required to reduce systemwide power usage by 250 megawatts.
Consert had previously signed two contracts in North Carolina, but on a much smaller scale, potentially involving just several thousand customers. Those contracts are with the Fayetteville Public Works Commission and Wake Electric Membership Corp. Consert also field-tested its product at N.C. State University.