Really interesting piece…I especially like the reference/allusion to marijuana farms. Nice touch.
Originally posted on Gigaom:
Utilities call energy theft — like when an indoor marijuana farm taps directly into a high voltage line for its super bright lights — a “non-technical loss” or a “commercial loss.” It’s a bizarrely mundane term to describe thefts which cost utilities billions of dollars in losses a year around the world. For example, Canadian utility BC Hydro has estimated that it’s losing a shocking $100 million each year from power theft.
That security problem is what a young Canadian startup called Awesense has emerged to tackle. The company, founded back in late 2009, has developed a product that uses power line sensors connected through a wireless mesh network combined with a cloud-based application. Utility workers can use the combo to remotely monitor and learn details about how much power their companies are actually distributing, versus how much power is being measured by their billing systems. In other words, “how much revenue they’re losing,” as Awesense founder and CEO Mischa Steiner-Jovic explains it.
Awesense’s technology is a mobile solution — utility workers clamp on the power line sensors wherever they suspect theft is happening, and if no theft is being detected they can simply move the network to another part of the grid. The sensor nodes create the ad-hoc mesh network amongst themselves (via the 915 band in North America, for all you wireless spectrum geeks out there).