Utility operator CenterPoint Energy Inc. and IBM will team up to test new technologies for delivering high-speed Internet access over electrical powerlines, the companies said Monday.

CenterPoint (up $0.19 to $13.49, Research) has opened a technology center at one of its facilities in Houston, with design help from IBM (up $1.92 to $79.30, Research), and has also launched a trial of broadband over powerline (BPL) to a 220-home area in Houston, they said.

CenterPoint said its BPL pilot will run through this August, after which it will evaluate consumer response and the merits of a larger deployment.

Last week Current Communications Group, which develops BPL services, raised a reported $100 million in financing from a diverse group of investors including Google Inc. (up $0.69 to $296.23, Research) and Goldman Sachs to fund the deployment of its technology.

Broadband services over electrical lines are seen as an attractive alternative for rural areas where traditional broadband delivery mediums like cable and telephone lines do not or can not reach.

More here.