Chumby Plugs Into Connected TV, San Diego Slowly Regaining Jobs, Ecotality Begins Rollout of Public Charging Stations, & More San Diego BizTech News

6/20/11Follow @bvbigelow

It was a slow week for tech news in San Diego, perhaps due to a post-Uplinq lull following Qualcomm’s annual conference for wireless app developers. We did find a spurt of cleantech news, however, so plug in, turn on, and tune in. Your Xconomy briefing begins now.

—San Diego’s chumby industries, which has developed a touch-screen device and widgets to provide music, photos, games, and web sites, has expanded its software platform into the connected TV market through a collaboration with UK-based Pace, a global developer of digital TV technologies. Chumby said Pace showcased its applications for the connected TV market last week at the Cable Show in Chicago. Last month, chumby raised an additional $1.5 million from its venture investors.

—The jobless rate in San Diego County declined to 9.6 percent in May from 9.8 percent in April, marking the second straight month that unemployment has stayed under 10 percent. This dip is the first time unemployment has been under 10 percent locally in roughly two years, according to the California Economic Development Department (EDD). Statewide unemployment remained at 11.7 percent, a tick below the 11.8 percent rate in April. While the trend is encouraging, the U.S. unemployment rate increased in May to 9.1 percent.

—In an “Ode to Error,” Xconomy’s Wade Roush reviews the Kathryn Schulz book “Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error,” and argues that it’s one of the best business books in recent years, even though it’s (wrongly?) classified as psychology. As Wade puts it, “There are so many opportunities for showstopper mistakes in a typical startup that, from the badge-of-honor point of view, it would be silly to penalize the founders too harshly when a venture runs aground. Most Silicon Valley investors do seem to realize this…”

—San Francisco-based Ecotality, which began installing its residential charging stations seven months ago, is now beginning to install its electric vehicle charging stations at public and commercial sites in San Diego, Seattle, Phoenix and 15 other EV Project communities. Ten public EV chargings stations that Ecotality installed at San Diego’s Balboa Park will be free until electric rates are in place, which is expected by the end of the year. San Diego Gas & Electric plans to issue cards that EV owners can swipe at the stations, and have the charge automatically added to their home electricity bill.

—In a keynote speech at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in the San Diego Convention Center last week, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington extolled the role that online media is playing in online commerce and the Internet economy, according to an account by Penni Crabtree in The San Diego Union-Tribune. The woman who started the Huffington Post in 2005 and sold it to AOL for $315 million earlier this year says mainstream media still doesn’t “get” why people spend so much time expressing themselves online for free.

San Diego Gas & Electric signed a power purchase agreement for a 130 megawatt (110 megawatt AC) solar photovoltaic facility to be built in Kern County, CA by enXco, a San Diego-based unit of France’s EDF Energies Nouvelles. The solar facility will cover 1,100 acres and will be the largest utility-scale solar project developed in the U.S. by enXco. The Catalina Solar Project will be built, owned, and operated by enXco and SDG&E will buy the power under the 25-year power purchase agreement. The project is expected to generate enough renewable energy to power about 35,000 homes and will offset about 74,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, according to SDG&E.

—On a separate front, the U.S. Energy Department has offered a $359.1 million loan guarantee to Sempra Energy, the San Diego-based energy giant, for Mesquite Solar 1, a 150-megawatt solar photovoltaic facility planned about 45 miles west of Phoenix. San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric signed a 20-year power purchase agreement for the electricity generated by the facility.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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