Comverge Inc. (COMV) said Thursday it has signed a $30 million agreement with Texas utility TXU energy to install about 100,000 smart thermostats to give TXU customers greater control over their energy use.

Comverge's main business has been contracting with utilities to remove power consumption during times of peak demand, such as a hot summer day. The company installs devices in homes and businesses that allows it to remotely turn down those customers' air conditioners or other equipment temporarily, when power resources are tight. Comverge also is pursuing a separate, though related, business in which the company contracts with a utility to install advanced thermostats in customers' homes and businesses that allow them to program their air conditioners, heaters or other appliances and operate them remotely, over the Internet.

"Consumers can use the programmable features on the thermostat to set up their own efficiency scheme...and save money on their utility bill," Comverge Chief Executive Officer Blake Young said in an interview.

The current contract with TXU expands an earlier installation and service agreement with Comverge that will allow more customers to take advantage of the service, said Mark Grasso, TXU's chief marketing officer.

TXU has several different rate plans for customers, from flat rates that don't change, to time-of-use rates that vary throughout the day, in line with the wholesale market. The smart thermostat is popular among customers who pay time-of-use rates, as it helps them figure out how much energy they're going to consume and how much it's going to cost them, Grasso said. But customers that pay flat rates also like the device because it gives them greater control over their energy use, he said.

"Consumers demand more tools as they become more aware of their own consumption and developments in the energy markets around them," Grasso said. He added that in Texas, which has a competitive retail power market, utilities compete aggressively on customer service.

To participate, TXU customers pay about $75 for a smart thermostat and agree to keep it installed for two years.

In addition to TXU, Comverge has contracts with Pepco Holdings Inc. (POM) and Exelon Corp. (EXC) unit PECO to install more than 500,000 smart thermostats over the next five years.

Comverge reported last week a second-quarter loss of 42 cents a share, a penny less than a year ago and in line with analysts' expectations. The company forecast total megawatts under management to grow by 800 megawatts for the year.

Shares of Comverge closed Wednesday 3% lower, at $8.19 apiece.

-By Cassandra Sweet, Dow Jones Newswires; 415-439-6468;

Pepco (NYSE:POM)
Historical Stock Chart
From Apr 2024 to May 2024 Click Here for more Pepco Charts.
Pepco (NYSE:POM)
Historical Stock Chart
From May 2023 to May 2024 Click Here for more Pepco Charts.