A lot of the interest in the smart grid industry tends to swirl around consumers and home energy management. It can be fun to picture consumers one day buying gadgets at big box retailers that will let them micromanage their home heating, cooling and lighting, and it's an especially attractive venture option for investors and entrepreneurs who cut their teeth on Internet and telecom startups. But utility execs say they are looking very hard at other types of software platforms, tools and applications that can help their networks automatically manage grid functions much deeper in the power grid, with distributed computing and with as little manual and human interaction as possible. That presents a largely untapped opportunity for startups and incumbent players alike.
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