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Tendril gets cash to build 'energy management OS'

Home energy monitoring start-up Tendril gets $30 million investment from VantagePoint Venture Partners. Is that enough to separate Tendril from the pack?

Smart-grid company Tendril has raised an additional $30 million in venture funding to expand the reach of its home energy monitoring gear.

VantagePoint Venture Partners on Tuesday announced the series C round for the Boulder, Colo.-based company. The money will be used to grow Tendril's network of manufacturing and distribution partners.

Tendril's in-home display can show how much a homeowner is spending on electricity. Tendril Networks

Tendril makes small displays for consumers to see how much electricity a home is consuming. The company also makes software for utilities to run energy-efficiency programs that allow consumers to take advantage of lower rates at off-peak times.

The Tendril displays use Zigbee wireless to connect to a home's smart meter and communicate with the utility.

The company is one of dozens building smart-grid technologies aimed at modernizing the electricity grid so consumers and utilities can have better information to improve efficiency.

Tendril's area of home energy monitoring faces competition from a number of other suppliers and Google, which released its PowerMeter monitoring software in limited beta last month. Tendril's strategy is to sell its goods primarily through utilities, which tend to be conservative adopters of technology.

VantagePoint Venture Partners' investment in Tendril reflects how clean-tech venture capital investing has shifted over the past year from very expensive solar and biofuels deals to more "capital-efficient" companies like Tendril.

Smart-grid companies, in particular, are attractive to venture capital because they are essentially IT companies targeting the utility industry, sectors that many investors are comfortable with.