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Broadband over powerline equipment costs

Posted on 2005-03-04
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I am doing some research on the feasibility of broadband over power lines aka power line communications technology. I cannot find any relevant costs for the equipment online, and I have not got any answers from the equipment manufacturers I approached.

I need information on the prices of the following products or an equivalent system

CT CouplerTM
CT Backhaul-pointTM
CT BridgeTM
Powerline Modems at Premises
CT ViewTM Network Management System

Thanks.
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Question by:inanton
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Expert Comment

by:The--Captain
ID: 13464700
http://www.linux-magazine.com/issue/38/Powerline_Cable_LAN_Modems.pdf

Has a comparison of cable vs powerline networking - It sounds to me like you are looking at trying to do powerline WANs, which AFAIK would not be possible beyond the first high-voltage transformer.

Cheers,
-Jon
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Expert Comment

by:GinEric
ID: 13465050
Been done before.  Not a good idea.  For starters, anyone can pick it off your neighborhood power lines right at their electrical outlet.  Second, it disrupts other signals used by the Electric Company on their power grid.  Third, would you really want your modem feeding information from your computer directly into a high power line?  Think, there's basically a single diode between the power line and computer frying.  Diode fails, computer goes Poof!

The vendors don't want to discuss their failures.

The research is oldtime, from way back, so how'd you get this research assignment?  Sounds like you got a brush off assignment!

Across the first power transformer, the Block Transformer, maybe, but you step up 110 to around 10,000 volts and little signals, like 5V digital signals, also go up 100 times to 500V.  Also, not a good idea.

Then there's the frequency.  Inductors, of which a transformer is one, don't like higher frequencies: ELI the ICE man, Voltage leads current in and inductor, Current leads voltage in a capacitor, which is another way of saying that the inductor won't pass high frequencies because the current and voltage collide producing a garbled representation of the input frequency.  Electromotive Force [EMF] and Counter Electromotive Force [CEMF] is another way of putting it, the frequency starts to bounce back off of itself and no message gets through.  Even though the Block Transformer is balanced with its own Capacitor, it forms a bandpass filter that restricts all frequencies outside of 60Hz and that's because harmonics can build up to dangerous levels in CEMF feedback and actually melt the transformer! [Exactly what happens on very hot Summer days when you hear one of those Block Transformers go Kapow! right before the whole block's electricity goes out; okay, sometimes their a circuit breaker that prevents it and makes a loud noise too, but they often stick and it melts anyway!]

Do you drink coffee or soda near your computer station?  Better think twice with a powerline nearby!  Modems and computers run on low voltage, with fuses and circuit breakers and stuff, powerline modems do not have a lot of safety features and run at full line voltage.  Their fuses and circuit breakers don't trip until the main trips!  You could be electrocuted by the time that happens.

All in all, broadband over powerlines is a dead horse.  No need to beat it any further.  For research, check any Electric Company Metering service or devices, the phone company tried it once, the cable companies have tried it in he past, a lot of their billing companies have tried it.  It doesn't work, it's costly, it's dangerous, and you won't find any admins that want to work on such equipment, all of which make the cost unfeasible.

The equipment prices are in the $1,000.00 as opposed to the free DSL and, at most, $59.95 DSL modems and telephone modems, so no feasibility there.

Powerline Communications is used mostly in ISA [Instrumentation Society of America] industrial sites, where it is feasible and where power lines are handled every day and are more convenient for carrying feedback systems controls information.  Refineries, Airports, Manufacturing Plants, and the like, where it is more reliable than simple computer and low voltage digital signals are overpowered by the likes of airplanes [a conductor moving through a magnetic field that genereates voltage spikes on nearby wires], industrial 3-Phase Voltages, and even superhigh voltages, such as Hoover Dam Alternators and Power Generation.  It makes sense here because a 250,000 Volt Alternator start up can spike out any nearby CAT5 wire!  The startup surge can rip a spoon right out of your pants!  and it can snap an Ethernet wire right out of its shielding.  So powerline digital information carrying and transmission make sense in such environments, but not in the home.

As for the cable company cables, I've got enough shocks off of them to warrant calling them powerline transmissions already.

Then, every once in a while, the cable company sends a 120 Volt spike down the line to punish would be cablejackers.  If you don't have the filter, you get zapped.  Obviously and illegal act by the cable companies, but until they get caught doing it they figure they're home free.  The do send these signals down their lines every now and then and if you happen to be in contact with that cable connector, you get the full 120V line voltage.

The phone company runs a quiescent 50V, until the phone rings; then it jumps up to 90V, only 20-30 volts under the residential line voltage of the power lines, and this can give you quite a jolt if you happend to be rewiring your phones when someone calls in!  I know from both measurement and the experience of a "call" while working on the line.

It's enough already that the phone line has such power on it.  So, it is possible to send the signal over a powerline, the phone company and all ISP's do it every day, but their powerline is direct to you with no transformers in between.  If there is a transformer [repeater] inline, your connectin will lag and lose bandwidth; often cited by telephone repairmen when responding to reports of "slow" DSL speeds, etc..

You've got the basic information.  You'll have to find the references to pricing data in your own continuing research.  Try the big corporations that make all the wires and stuff, GE, Bell, Belden, AT&T [and their longlines division], GTE, Western Electric, look at their histories.



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Author Comment

by:inanton
ID: 13466636
Thanks for the advice, but I am looking at the technology (latest iteration being promoted by Amperion, Current, etc), the regulatory environment (recent FCC rulings, etc), and the cost of inputs (equipment, salaries, etc), and trying to determine what the current level of viability is. The exercise is really about the due diligence that investors (such as venture capitalists) must conduct. The piece of the puzzle that I am missing is the price of the equipment that:

1) provides interface between content provider (fibre, etc) and the electrical grid,
2) Repeats signal along the power line
3) tranfers signal from the main power lines into the home.
4) network management system (usually proprietary)

I was hoping that someone in EE has contacts within a power company that has piloted this, or within an equipment manufacturer, and therefore had an idea of the prices (even an order of magnitude would be very helpful).
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Expert Comment

by:GinEric
ID: 13467706
Bell Telephone; why don't you call and ask?

A repeater for a phone company is no different than repeating on a power grid.  They're all considered Instrumentation & Control, not digital devices and network stuff.  The box to convert from fibre to electric power is going to be expensive, think in the area of at least a thousand, perhaps ten thousand.  Repeaters are not that expensive, but you must include the labor cost to install them, regulatory fees and oversight that is going to drive costs way up as you pay Linemen now to do the install; sorry, but cable techs are not allowed on power lines.

Western Electric; is who did it for Bell.

Network Management systems are done by really high level power company Professional Engineers.

For a plant, of say 20 acres, whatever the function, you're looking at somewhere around $3,000,000.00 for the first year, mostly because of the design, development, and installation.  Thereafter, you're down to replacing parts and paying full time employees around the clock.  The upkeep cost is about $150,000.00 per employee who starts at $30,000.00 a year.

Then, the whole thing has to be Certified by legions of both Engineers and Electricians.

Electricians, if unionized, as most are, start at about $30.00 an hour; we don't even talk about the yearly salary!

Every salary is multiplied by five to give the upkeep cost of maintaining an employee base, even if that cost is actually only three times the base salary because in a startup you must provide for 80% cost overruns.

And if the plant is nuclear, multiple everything, everything, by about ten!

Tell you what, what's your location and I'll find you another EE.
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GinEric earned 2000 total points
ID: 13469669
As a note, you could probably simply call Ambient or Bechtel and get the price quotes, or go to their site and get them by request.

I'm waiting to get a response from them on pricing.

Ambient uses a box to "jump" over the transformer, to get around the transformer barrier.  They call their technology "PLC," which is pretty descriptive both of Power Line Communications and how the box must work as a Programmable Logic Controller [the original meaning of 'PLC'].  These are pretty much the same as any telephone distribution repeater or box.  The cost varies between about $2,400.00 and $10,000.00, but can probably be brought down to about $1,000.00 after research & development costs are recouped.

The modems are not much different from telephone and DSL modems, but prices are currently subject to R&D recoup too.  The curve slides down as more are sold, from somewhere around $100.00 down to $29.95, with a manufacturer's cost somewhere between $3.00 [Taiwan] and $10.00 [U.S. and European.  The cost, eventually, is the materials cost, as the manufacturing becomes automated.  Just like most electric and electronic devices.

Ambient has already done a test in Hong Kong, and now they're on to Con Ed and New York, Manhattan.

Their White Paper on deployment is pretty descriptive of their strategic plan, but again, is based on the former meter reader technologies and powergrid management, which is to say, that old Instrumentation and Control applications side of industrial networking.  Which has been around a long time.

Now, they wish to tap the consumer market, and probably rightly so, as power companies also seek to increase revenues without a lot of PUC regulation.

They have a plan of offering competitive pricing within smaller countries and sort of third world countries, which means revenues from World Bank Consortium and foreign aid.

They have been secretive about costs because the R&D does not reflect eventual consumer cost.  To announce such costs is not in their best interests for growth, it always looks negative to the public, which does not see the eventual sliding scale, which always slides downward, like a simple inverse function, and then levels off at a competitive value with other technologies.  This is just an engineering and manufacturing fact.

Nearly all prospectuses are really just best guesses using comparable devices.

So, it is quite legitimate to use the initial costs of existing technologies, get their cost curves, and project them onto a new technology, such as PLC.  It's how most engineers do it until they have factual data sheets.

You could also go over there SEC filings, Annual Reports, etc., and find out how much was spent on development of their patented products.

I think though, that if you contact them, they'd be more than willing to give you some figures, past and projected.  After all, they're in the phase of promoting their revenue cash cow.

As an engineer, I've called many companies in the past about pricing on new development.  Nearly all have sent more information that I asked for, including GE, RCA, National Semiconductor, Bell Labs, AT&T, Intel, Cisco Systems, Western, and many, many more.  These people like to promote what they're trying to do through knowledgeable people.  And all have provided not just technical, but pricing as well as even some proprietary information.  It's amazing what you'll get if you make a telephone call and get on a personal level.

The White Paper from Ambient covers a description of what you're looking for, 1.) the fibre backbone mainframe [almost always], 2.)  Repeaters (or 'jumpers') for the four node types S, X, R, and GW nodes, 3.)  is really the GW layer or node, not much difference in cost from a NID, not referred to as "main power" in Electrics, but as the post-distribution transformer or residential side  4.)  Network Management Systems goes back to the power generating plant and its mainframed grid.

There are other considerations, which is why reading the White Paper is a good idea.  Things like the underground 35kV underground MV couplers are obviously much more expensive than the pole mounted ones.

I did a study, years ago, at British Telecom on this underground construction.  BT knows the most about this I think.  Some of the factors in the U.S. are the regulations regarding the depth of high voltage power line placements.  About 4 feet for a 4600V line, so you can easily see it's probably going to be deeper and better isolated for these extremely lethal values, and consequently to construction cost is going to be exponentially higher.  All of these, in England, are "tunnels," not just buried lines.  Tunnels cost a lot of money; about a thousand times the cost of poles.  But, as you can see, they are mostly restricted to substation power grids.  However, in England, as in most of Europe, even residentials are underground, where they don't "uglify" the landscape as they do in the U.S.  This also lowers the ongoing costs of maintenance, as once the tunnels are built, it doesn't take a truck with a bucket and all kinds of insulation for that truck and bucket to service lines.  Long term costs are hardly considered in the U.S.,which we all feel leads to mistaken cost effectiveness based on short term deployment.

Bechtel and Ambient have something like $43 Billion to play around with.  They'll need it for residential deployment.  But I suspect their budget is well under $1 Billion for the initial rollout.  The return is usually expected to be about 15 times in the first successful year, which they project as being shortly after 2004, 2005 from their White Paper.

The costs of the equipment, and even most of the salaries, is dwarfed by such industrial development costs.  But this is no surprise.  Original DBS [Direct Broadcast Satellite] investment was $5 Billion in 1986.  The cost of launching rockets and satellites being the biggest cost, followed by developing the necessary "boxes."  That cost was also projected onto about a five year plan ending in deployment.  The cost of the satellite receivers and on-premisis equipment was negligible as it was projected to be recouped from montly fees, with the devices basically "given" to the customer.  The one year Agreement nearly always covers the cost of supplied equipment, along with a profit margin of about 50% of generated revenues.

The same will apply to PLC if it takes off.

And all of that should be "gleanable" from both Bechtel's and Ambient's stockholder reports, etc..  Look under Research & Development Costs.  Which are a big tax deduction and listed as such.

The Con Ed pilot is in Westchester, and is partially state funded, therefore, the contract(s) have to be public records.  You could call Con Ed, or the state offices, and find out more about the costs, or you just as easily take a drive to Westchester and ask a lineman how much the boxes cost and get an idea of his salary, etc..  That's research.

Amperion is up in Andover, Mass.  A call to them, and/or a ride up there to meet them, is worth a lot more than book or Internet research.  I had to travel to London to talk to BT, and stayed there quite a while.  That's the price of valuable and informative research.  Whether it's for Columbia, NYU, or the board of a NYSE corp.

Apparently, Amperion has positioned itself by winning a patent dispute with Sieman's and ABB in Munich.  I don't know how this relates to Bechtel and Ambient, but it seems that some big players have been battling this out.

I think most of my estimates are really quite accurate, based on experience in large environment R&D, rollout, and deployment, certainly within an order of magnitude of the actual figures, of that I'm sure.  I've done all three, design, R&D, and rollout, and have had responsibility for the budgets of all three, in the ranges I mentioned.  Both Ambient and Amperion have either had to build manufacturing plants, or subcontract out for the devices, after they'd successfully built at least prototypes.  Looking for and finding this data usually requires that "personal" approach with the inventors and their companies.  I know, also from experience, that building the prototype goes from about $10,000.00 at home, for a small device, to $1 Billion for a mainframe in the largest of of corporate environments.  The at home project yields something similar to the modem device.  The projected sales price is about $30.00 to $100.00  For the larger venture, the projected sales price is about $10,000,000.00 to possibly $25,000,000.00 each.

Your PLC companies have similar costs.  On a gradient scale with the complexity, size, and function of the device.

Building a plant can cost about $2 Billion to perhaps $5 Billion, with plant, research, and training facilities.

Salaries are from the Department of Labor studies, and the actual cost from the SBA seminars, which are usually run by former, or present, CEO's of some significant corporations.

Their figures are acceptible everywhere.

For the cost analysis of the simple devices produced, as well as the complex ones, it is acceptible to use existing products as the manufacturing, etc., will not vary far from these values.  They can't if they are going to be competitive with existing technology.

The foreseen cost effective savings in PLC would be the "in place" physical network layer; that is what is attracting the major investors.  Certainly, it is cheaper to install a box on a pole, moreso than getting the pole, digging holes for it, stringing lines, etc..

The one downside is the fear of the power line for Internet connectivity.  Residentials don't like being connected to a power line for computer Internet stuff, and the phone companies and cable companies are going to play on that, probably with a lot of hype.  After all, someone is trying to take a bite out of their cash cow.

But, if you consider that the phone company voltage is already near the line voltage, the argument doesn't hold up well under counter attack.  And so, they too are switching, or trying to switch, to full fibre optics communications, a safer and faster method.

Cable simply doesn't know what to do in this market and the satellite market; they're losing marketshare very fast.

Your cost analysis and profitability margin studies can neglect the individual costs of devices, labor, etc., and take them as a summation, rather than accounting for them on an individual basis, as an optimized margin of a simple business model Integral, which you can find at any engineering school or business school, Moore, Wharton, MIT, or Harvard.

A PE [Professional Engineer] in your state offices, an engineering professor or economics professor, can provide the method and formula, as should any CEO be able to.

And you can pretty much take all of this to a professor, stockholders, or a CEO and verify that this is how they do it.  This, and the personal approach to researching a problem.

CEO's and PR for Amperion should be ready, willing, and able to grant you an interview for your research, as it promotes their market.  You can also track them down at shareholder meetings.  That's how reliable research is done.  On a personal level.  Of course it requires a lot more chutzpah, but that is how one gets to the top position in a university, a business, government, or the stock exchange.

Try starting out by contacting the decisionmakers.  Get an interview.  Ask how much these things cost.  I don't know that there are many on EE that know these answers.  If it's that important to you, you'll have to go the traditional route.  If it's not that important, any guess or answer will probably do.

I don't know if I'd bet on PLC's success; perhaps if the CEO's can convince me with the complete plan, but until then I remain skeptical.

I'm keeping this for my book, it looks good to me.



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Expert Comment

by:The--Captain
ID: 13473751
GinEric - do you have *any* sources for the information you have posted?

Cheers,
-Jon
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Expert Comment

by:GinEric
ID: 13474565
For the simple references of PLC insider business news:
http://www.bechtel.com/newsarticles/97.asp

Government:
http://www.sba.gov/

Universities:
http://www.seas.upenn.edu/
http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/
[it's always a joke a Penn that Harvard's Coat of Arms looks like ours, but more of a 'Rebel Flag' appearanc]
http://www.hbs.edu/
Mitsy:
http://web.mit.edu/catalogue/overv.chap6-crems.shtml

Search also NYSE to find others interested in building PLC Internet:
http://www.nyse.com/pdfs/ChinaSpecial0105.pdf

This works as a wide approximation because of the limits of the author of the calculator at the site:
use V(c)=$8.50
F(c)=$1 Billion [cost of the plant $1,000,000,000.00]
Project sales: 9,250,000  [because calculator only goes to 10M]
S(p)=$25.00  average price of a device, such as modem, nid, etc..

Shows that the loss would be about $847 Million.  You can use this as a first year projection.  Also states that BE is at 60 million units sold.  Use this as a guide to optimize pricing.  Obviously, 10 million customers is not enough, however, at $25.00 per month, you change the sales price accordingly to 12X$25.00=$300.00 for the first year so that revenues now become nearly $3 Billion and profit becomes $1.67 Billion.
Based on 10 million customers for the first year.

The site calculator is okay, but it is better to know the actual Integral formula on which it is based.  That you can find in most any Calculus book or course.

One thing lacking in the calculator is the curvelinear character of cost analysis, which can only be got by integration.  You learn that in either engineering school at bachelor's level, or business school at master's level.

Amperion patents and stuff:
http://uk.biz.yahoo.com/040609/183/evkf6.html

Ambient:  This one gives you the name of Ambient co-founder, 27 years old, can't imagine him not giving an interview, for promotion:
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/0,4621,312363,00.html

For British Telecom: [for tunnels, you have to find the civil unit that digs them]
http://www.labs.bt.com/

Imperial College:
http://www.ic.ac.uk/P287.htm
http://www.labs.bt.com/research/universityresearch?doc=42996
is part of London College
Specifically, Prof. Midwinter and some friends at Lord Thompson's DBS venture, for the initial phases of DBS, which began in 1986 or thereabouts.

Bechtel/Ambient: see bottom for contact info
http://plugtek.com/PageLibrary/AmbientAndBechtel.htm

For the rest, you'll have to do some searches.  For the cost of building a plant, and R&D on a mainframe, I am the source.  I used them as a comparative cost analysis.  However, these figures are well known for large ventures, corporate and government.  Take the cost of a Nuclear Power Plant, we have a couple of losers in this category, Peachbottom and Limerick.  I don't count 3-Mile Island because it was a complete failure that cost way over the building costs after it melted down.

GE is one of the makers of 250,000V Alternators, such as the ones used at Hoover and elsewhere.  The cost of the dam has to be translated to today's dollars, not hard to do.  The cost of the network management is actually negligible, until something goes wrong, but even then it's less than 1/100th of the cost of construction.

Some ratios you just learn from experience; selling products at ten times to thirty times the cost, The ratio of salary to the actual cost of keeping the employee [1 to 3 post development and 1 to 5 during development].  For a 20 acre plant, the costs are generally found from time to time in most newspapers and magazines, professional journals - sometimes, and public hearings always.

The practice of using existing devices in an initial cost analysis is just common sense.  If the device doesn't exist, you don't know what it costs, but you can base your predictions and calculations on past practices, this is called estimating.  It's a pretty good tool for mathematicians and engineers to get an idea of the predicted behavior of the business model.  The should be teaching this at both engineering and business schools.  All it is is a "substitution of values" type of equation or problem.  Once you have the formula, you can plug in actual values when you discover, usually by experience, what they are.

Again, for the cost of prototyping a device on a small scale, usually at home, I am the source.  From idea, to engineering drawings, making the photoplates, to contacting subcontractors in Virginia to manufacture the printed circuit, and decide on the packaging, then make the prototype, I have done this a few times.  Any good Electrical Engineer should be required to do this to earn his degree.  It's not enough to "just know the theory," you must also have practical experience in the R&D right up to manufacturing of the product you've designed.  Whether it be a little audio mixer or a new logic device made at home, to a mainframe made at a $3 Billion plant.  Of course the latter costs enough and requires more money and employees than you can fit into your home, so you do it at a major manufacturing plant, with pay.  At home, you usually don't get paid unless your device takes off.  Apparently, the designers of some of these PLC technologies had home designs that did take off.

Many of the costs are,indeed, proprietary.  I don't expect Unisys or IBM to tell you what they've spent on some projects.  But there are usually former employees who know because they were responsible for those budgets.

The same applies to PLC, the new technology is something they'd like to keep as a closely guarded secret from their competitors.  However, their costs are quite transparent to someone who knows them all and has done their estimates in the past, including government contracts and costs.  I said they all have this "magic number" that every contractor who makes a bid tries to guess at.  That number is the optimum hourly rate at which they will pay for each manhour.  That number is somewhat guarded by government, but it does seem to leak more often out to the big corporations, moreso than any leakage to a small business.  Knowing this "optimized" number means getting the contract.  It is not the lowest estimate, and it is not the highest estimate.  It is like pitching nickels against a wall: whoever gets closest to this number, and never below it, gets the contract, i.e., no "wall leaners."  The exact same approach as bacarrat or blackjack.

These are really more common sense and street sense issues than documented collegiate "howto's."  It really doesn't matter if it's Wall Street or Canal Street; the method is the same.  And the Wall Streeters are most often taught by the Canal Streeters, not vice versa.  From which, the universities glean their information for texts to publish.

It is hard to get sources from any successful CEO.  Many of them are success secrets which are not given out for free.  But observation of a CEO over time gives away those secrets.  Sometimes, they are just too much fun not to publish.  Sometimes, they're left as a legacy or in an autobiography.  Usually, they tend to "close ranks" on these issues.

Some sources are governed by a promise not to reveal the source.  This is a biggie in business.  This is overcome by the personal interview, if you are given permission to publish the source.

I think I posted at least two strategical contracts, India and China.  Which fit well with the Ambient/Bechtel strategy of third world type markets.  I must say though, I don't think of either India or China as third world anymore.  Their computer and electronics manufacturing is now something like 1,000 times the volume of the U.S. and as far as I'm concerned, the U.S. is no longer a competitor in the industries which it invented.  Thank you very much Mr. Congressman, Mr. Senator, and Mr. President!

The U.S. is more of a third world chip maker, computer maker, electronics manufacturer, than any of these countries and at a strategic disadvantage thereby.  For example, if China were to sanction the U.S. computer market, the computer economy in the U.S. would begin to collapse.  The same for electronics.  You can see from the worldwide markets of PLC and other technologies that the U.S. is not even a player in this, but to be used for testing as a third world country!

Amperion and Ambient have to lean on big brother Bechtel in Germany.  And New York is the test area.  Con Ed, specifically.  You won't find the pilot program at Con Ed's site:
http://www.coned.com/
but you'll find it here:
http://www.plugtek.com/PageLibrary/ambient_fcc.htm

You have to, of course, tie the loose ends together to see that the pilot project is funded by the State of New York, and the money goes to pay for the German Bechtel company to build the pilot in Manhattan and glean the profits back to Germany.  Interesting, New Yorkers would then be paying the people of Germany for their Internet, and maybe eventually for their electric power.

Which brings us to feasibility and PUC Regulations.  The F.C.C. apparently has approved, but will the voters of New York?  Luckily, Ambient and Amperion seem to be U.S. interests, but will they remain so with foreign options under their financing belts?

You may find in any university library the low down on how this game is played.  Edison was ousted early from his own company.  It became Con Ed and GE under the new consortium's ownership.  One of them was Marconi.  Marconi's own RCA was litigated into Marconi, America, RCA.  
This was brought on by Americans who didn't want a foreignor owning all the broadcast and communications industry in America.

The same could happen to Con Ed, Ambient, and Amperion.

The source for that are common records and books at every university, and at various historical records places.  The history of most companies and inventors also tells of these events.  They're common knowledge among investors, or at least "informed" investors.

I think I posted the source for the White Paper in the other place where this question was asked.

Having had not a whole lot to do, testing these question areas, and preparing for publishing a book, I've particpated in order to discover this process of Experts Exchange question/answer sessions because I wanted to find out what drives people to take so much time to answer other people's questions.  Like the man says, "It ain't the money."  I've gotten at least that far.  It doesn't seem to be the points either, unless someone wants to be an EE superstar, for whatever reasons.  I think I'm now leaning toward seeing it as a necessary component of social interaction.  That only means that people like to talk to each other.  I really don't know why so many people take so much time to answer questions and to help others.  Good deeds or somehow profit motivated; I'm not sure.

I can write a lot because that is what I do, I write. [among other things]

I also read a lot, a very lot.  I can't shut my mind off; it's always going, looking for more information, for decisionmaking.

I may wind up contradicting my first statement, "not a good idea," after considering the problem; executive prerogative.  There's always the adjunct market, and it's always best to play devil's advocate first, before investing or advising investment.  A good lawyer or businessman does this all the time.

So it may turn out to be a good idea.  I suppose that will depend on the final research paper "inanton" presents.  By the way, the cost analysis can be found in Howard Anton's books, "Calculus {I and II" which made the Drexel University Professor a millionaire.  [Source]

Drexel is just one place where I studied engineering, math, and business, accross the street from another alma mater, University of Pennsylvania (under a tutorship).
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by:inanton
ID: 13490737
Thanks for the info. I have been tearing my hair out trying to get some idea of the costs of the equipment. I have emailed and called Current, Amperion, etc with little feedback. I am actually getting a lot of help from the local utility company who saw the pilot in Cinncinati. BTW, they still have not been given a quote for the cost from Current. Current offered to run a small pilot for them, but refused to divulge cost information... really strange.

I will post my report and add the link here if anyone is interested.
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