• Building Energy Management
  • Home Energy Management
  • Building Energy Management Systems
  • Mergers and Acquisitions

Uplight Signals Impact Potential for Utilities

Paige Leuschner
Aug 06, 2019

Smart Home

New technologies and approaches are altering home energy management (HEM) programs from a decade ago when metering projects drove much of the market activity, a trend highlighted in Navigant Research’s recent Home Energy Management report. Today, HEM can include a range of technologies, from smart devices like thermostats to voice activation to marketplaces and customer engagement platforms. Despite interest from utilities in more innovative and advanced HEM technologies, many are still largely relying on home energy reports to achieve energy efficiency savings.

This is due in part to data from metering projects. This data is fueling greater insights and personalization for home energy reports and emails; other more innovative and cutting-edge approaches that have yet to prove their worth compared to the cost-effectiveness and measurable impact of these reports. Additionally, it has been a siloed process for utilities to string together solutions that are more advanced than home energy reports. It often involves piecemealing together solutions from multiple vendors or investing significantly in more expensive enterprise solutions that provide more end-to-end applications.

Major Tactical Change

However, this is changing with the formation of a company called Uplight, which is the result of a merger between Tendril and Simple Energy, two Colorado-based startups. This merger follows a strategic investment in Tendril by Rubicon Technology Partners in December 2018 and a slew of recent acquisitions, including the purchase of EEme, EnergySavvy, and FirstFuel. The combination of these companies alongside Simple Energy’s customer engagement marketplace makes Uplight a one-stop-shop for market-leading, customer-facing solutions. The merger also brings significant market traction to Uplight, with around 75 North American utilities as customers. These include big names like Duke Energy, National Grid, Exelon, Southern Company, PSEG, AEP, and Consumers Energy. Together, these companies serve approximately 100 million customers.

The formation of Uplight brings further consolidation to the HEM landscape. Oracle began this consolidation in May 2016 with its acquisition of home energy report pioneer, Opower. Itron followed suit with its acquisition of Comverge in May 2017 and Silver Spring Networks in January 2018. Just a handful of companies with these types of consumer applications that are flying solo, which can be seen in the report, Navigant Research Leaderboard: Home Energy Management.

Future of Home Energy

Moves like this could be what utilities really need to make the step toward deploying more advanced HEM techniques, like automatically optimizing distributed energy resources with home energy consumption. Utilities might have resisted such applications before, but now they can explore these more innovative solutions through existing partners. While home energy reports help utilities simply and reliably achieve energy savings, these more advanced applications could have a much deeper and meaningful impact. This could change home energy consumption as we know it.