Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Itron wins major smart-grid deal in Japan

Iain Morris
April 29, 2014
Itron has won a deal to provide its smart-grid software to Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric Corporation for use in a major smart-metering project with Chubu Electric Power Company, the third largest electric utility in the country.

Itron (Liberty Lake, WA, USA) said its software would provide a “critical function” in the overall service, collecting the data that companies need to help consumers save energy and to improve back-end utility processes.

Under the agreement, its OpenWay Collection Engine software is to be installed at Chubu Electric (Nagoya, Japan) to collect and relay data from field routers and some ten million smart meters and relay the information to the utility’s meter data management system.

Itron’s collection engine will also facilitate customer conservation efforts in Japan, it said.

“This unique deployment at Chubu Electric demonstrates the true flexibility and interoperability of Itron’s OpenWay platform, which can adapt to meet various utility needs and deployment configurations,” said Alan White, Itron’s vice president of sales, marketing and delivery for electricity in the Asia Pacific. “We are pleased to collaborate with the Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (Tokyo, Japan) to bring a complete smart metering solution to Japan.”

Mitsubishi said it was attracted to the solution because Itron’s systems have already proven themselves to be scalable and mature.
News of the deal came soon after Itron had reported 6% growth in revenues for the first quarter of the year, to $475 million, with revenues in its electricity segment up 5%.

“Growth in revenues, bookings and backlog drove strong operating performance in the quarter compared with last year,” said Philip Mezey, Itron's president and chief executive. “Electricity revenues and backlog grew year-over-year as customers pursue increased value from grid modernization programs.”

“We are making progress on our top priority of improving the performance of the electricity segment as a key step to enhancing the overall company profitability,” he added.

Despite the sales growth, Itron reported a net loss – in GAAP terms – of $254,000, compared with a net profit of $2.6 million in the same period last year.

The company blamed the setback on a combination of higher net interest, the devaluation of currencies in some markets and an increased tax rate.

Itron has also recently announced that Steven Helmbrecht, its chief financial officer, is to leave the company at the end of the year and that it had begun looking for a replacement.
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