NewPower, Coactive Form 'Smart Homes' Alliance
Once only envisioned in cartoon families like The Jetsons or in
futuristic movies, a strategic alliance between national energy
provider The New Power Co. and Internet gateway provider Coactive
Networks is zooming in on the first complete "smart homes" for U.S.
consumers and small businesses.
The deal, announced last week, would begin with a pilot program
this year in 200 homes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, connecting
customers' thermostats, meters, lighting fixtures, appliances,
security systems and home automation systems to the Internet, and
thereby giving them specific troubleshooting and power usage
As part of the agreement, TNPC, a subsidiary of NewPower
Holdings Inc., will use Sausalito, CA-based Coactive technology to
outfit households with telemetry e-services, such as energy
management and home control.
Once established, the Internet would enable commands from
outside the home or business, using wireless devices, or through
service orders and changes through web site pages. It also could
automate phone and e-mail alerts from remote home devices like
security systems, swimming pools and even a medicine cabinet
running short on a prescription. In turn, NewPower would use the
Internet system to adjust thermostats during high-demand periods in
exchange for rate discounts, reducing outages and establishing
their generation requirements.
The move is considered a significant step for TNCP in its drive
to bring cutting edge technology to consumers and small businesses
to manage energy costs. The Coactive Connector residential gateway
is designed to address energy management issues arising from the
changing regulatory and market environment.
H. Eugene Lockhart, CEO of NewPower, based in Purchase, NY, said
the alliance "will enhance our value to consumers and small
businesses and introduce a new world of Internet-enabled services."
He said the ability to offer telemetry e-services would "cement our
relationship" with long-term customers.
Coactive CEO David Gaw said the alliance was the first "true
smart home initiative" in the country. "Trends related to
deregulation will continue to drive residential gateway deployments
in 2001." He said "forward-thinking" energy providers like NewPower
would lead the way in managing energy usage.
NewPower, formed by Houston-based Enron Corp. in 1999, expects
to reach 1.2 million customers this year, with net revenues
expected to be between $530 million and $540 million. In February,
subsidiary TNCP said that its customer count stands at about
368,000, offering retail marketing and sales of natural gas and
electricity to residential, commercial and industrial customers.
TNCP's residential customer base includes accounts in California
and Ohio transferred from Enron, as well as about 285,000 natural
gas customers and 20,000 electricity customers in eight states,
primarily Georgia, Ohio and Pennsylvania, acquired from the
Columbia Energy Group in July 2000.
NewPower has strategic partnerships with IBM, which provides the
company with all back office functions, and AOL, which provides
exclusive access to more than 23 million subscribers.
Carolyn Davis, Houston