In an unusual move, NRG Energy just acquired Goal Zero, a provider of portable solar and charging products.

NRG is an energy giant. It's the biggest independent power producer in the U.S., with 47,000 megawatts of generation capacity. It is also one of the larger solar developers (through dedicated unit NRG Solar) and one of the larger retail providers of green energy (through Green Mountain).

As GTM's Stephen Lacey reported last week, NRG is splitting up its assets into three separate entities: NRG Business, NRG Home and NRG Renew. NRG Business covers its conventional generation portfolio in the wholesale markets. NRG Renew handles utility-scale renewable energy projects. And NRG Home manages the retail business and its 3 million customers, including rooftop solar installation, home energy management and electric vehicle charging.

It's NRG Home that's incorporating the 100-employee Goal Zero. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Goal Zero's 2013 revenue is reported on Forbes’ Most Promising Companies list as $35 million.

It's an unusual move because NRG Home is allowing consumers "to access renewable energy sources and reduce their overall dependence on the grid." Elizabeth Killinger, President of NRG Retail, told GTM that we are in "an era of personal power" and NRG sees its role as providing power to "people on the go."

She said that not everyone can put solar on their roof, but this will be a way for people to employ solar power in their lives. She sees these products as necessary for families on the move in today's world.

A Goal Zero spokesperson told GTM that the the company has grown "nearly 17,000 percent in three years from 2009 to 2012." The company's line of "solar generators" uses a solar panel combined with a lead acid battery (other lines use lithium-ion and rechargeable NiMC). Power reaches up to a 1,200 watt-hour, 103-pound power pack. The solar panels use monocrystalline silicon. All products are designed in Utah and built in China.

Battery cells come with a six-month warranty; all other components and products have a twelve-month warranty.

The intention is for Goal Zero customers to be sold solar rooftops and for solar rooftop owners to be sold portable systems. Goal Zero has raised venture funding from Mercato Partners, In-Q-Tel and Sorenson Capital, according to Fortune.

NRG has been very active on the new energy front:

  • In March of this year, NRG Energy acquired the 475-employee Roof Diagnostics, one of the top ten installers in 2013. NBA hall-of-famer Bill Walton is the new NRG Home Solar spokesperson.
  • NRG has set up partnerships with smart-thermostat maker Nest, planned new microgrid projects, and has started experimenting with solar PV tied with battery storage systems.
  • NRG, which owns retail electric supplier Energy Plus, is working with Comcast in Pennsylvania to offer an electricity power service bundled with cable and phone.
  • The company is crowd-sourcing a high-ranking executive.
  • NRG is still doing trial work with Dean Kamen's Stirling engine "home energy appliance."