Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Consert, a three-year-old startup focused on smartgrid technology, is bolting Raleigh for San Antonio.

Just as Raleigh and the Triangle are developing as hubs for the “clean energy” and “smart grid” markets, one of the possible future stars has been lured away.

However, the culprit is not another state poaching on North Carolina jobs – it’s a utility. Could this be a new trend in corporate recruiting?

Consert said Monday it is moving its headquarters and about 50 jobs to the Texas city, having been lured away by a huge Texas utility.

CPS Energy and local politicians put on a media event Monday to announce the enticement of the green technology companies. In all, more than 200 jobs are involved.

Jack Roberts, chief executive officer of Consert, said the company was working with CPS to deploy its energy management software. The two firms launched a pilot project last year.

“Using the Consert software, customers set user profiles through their home computers for heating and air conditioning systems, water heaters and pool pumps to manage their homes’ energy demands,” CPS said in the announcement. “Used in conjunction with other smart grid initiatives like advanced metering infrastructure, the program helps customers automate their energy conservation and manage their bills, while allowing the utility to conserve energy during periods of high use.”

“This is measurable, verifiable and happens in real time,” Consert Vice President Jeff Ebihara told the San Antonio Express newspaper. “No other technology does what we can do.”

Consert is privately held. Its headquarters is expected to be moved to San Antonio by next year with the management team moving by next spring. Consert plans to employ 150 people in San Antonio by 2014.

According to the Express, CPS has agreed to purchase 150,000 of Consert’s units.

Now that’s an enticement.

CPS Energy is run by the city of San Antonio and touts itself as “the largest municipally owned natural gas and electric utility.” It has 717,000 electricity customers and 325,000 natural gas users. CPS certainly is intent on green. It claims to be the largest wind-energy producer among municipal utilities and is closing a coal-fired plant.

The firm already has 12 job openings posted, and Roberts told the Texas newspaper: “They’re all for San Antonio.”

In another interview, Roberts told The News & Observer in Raleigh that the company wouldn’t have much of a presence in Raleigh much longer.

Consert raised more than $17 million in venture funding last year with a GE investment group as a key player. It has run a couple of trials in Wake County, working with Verizon Wireless.

Unfortunately, all the jobs and Consert could create in the future are now likely to be payroll additions in Texas, not here.

Sounds like a smart move for the Lone Star State.

Read more about the Consert move from The Express here.

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