The Atlanta Smart Grid

Urjanet Inc  |  May 1, 2013  |  Data & Technology  |  Energy & Sustainability  

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In 1837 a stake labeled “Terminus” was driven into the ground to mark the beginning of a new railroad connecting Georgia to the Midwest. Later named Atlanta, the city became a center of railroad activity and is today the capital of the South. This was the foundation of the Atlanta Smart Grid.

Atlanta has always been a hub city, initially as a center for rail and air traffic, later for telecommunications, and recently distribution and logistics. But Atlanta is now emerging as a hub for a new breed of businesses — technology companies focused on the energy market.

Energy is big business. At least 8% of GDP (over $1 trillion per year) is spent on energy in the United States. Energy users have huge financial incentives to reduce energy spend and support ‘green’ initiatives, but progress is painfully slow.

The energy industry is capital-intensive and handcuffed by regulation, creating an environment dominated by large entrenched producers, distributors, and service firms with little incentive to change. The market is ripe for disruption, and the technology community in Atlanta has rallied around this opportunity. A number of impressive new companies have launched in the space, and Cisco’s recent acquisition of Atlanta-based Joulex has focused even more attention on the city.

Great companies are often built around the opportunities created when large markets undergo rapid change. This is one of those moments in energy, and a huge opportunity exists for the Atlanta technology community. Almost 200 years after its origin as a hub of rail traffic, Atlanta stands poised to be a hub for the Smart Grid.

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