When California deregulates its immense electricity market next Jan. 1, Itron Inc. will be reading the meter.
The Spokane company Monday announced that a North Carolina-based subsidiary, Utility Translation Systems Inc., outbid several competitors to provide software that will monitor the flow of electricity into and out of a central power pool in the Golden State.
The $5 million deal is the largest ever negotiated by UTS, said Itron spokeswoman Mima Scarpelli, and its value could double as the utilities that participate in the pool buy smaller versions of the sale package.
“This will put us in pretty good shape to garner those additional contracts,” she said.
Also, Scarpelli said, the California pool will likely be the first of many created around the country as electric utilities are deregulated.
Generators will make electricity available to the pool and distributors will tap power they need to meet customer demand.
UTS software will enable system operators to pay generators and to bill distributors based on information read from thousands of meters connected to the pool.
Utility experts say deregulation, which will eventually allow every customer to select a power provider in the same way they pick a long-distance carrier, would be impossible without a way to track the thousands of daily transactions.
UTS already supplies software to central power pools in the United Kingdom, Australia and several other countries.
Itron purchased UTS last spring for stock then valued at about $30 million. The price of the stock has fallen substantially in the last year.
News of the California deal lifted the price 62 cents Monday, to $21.62 per share.
Scarpelli said development of the software for California would take place in Raleigh, N.C.
UTS beat out companies like General Electric Co. and Schlumberger Ltd. for the contract, she said.
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