Earlier this year, GridPoint laid out ambitions plans for growth and claimed it would achieve revenues of $100 million this year.
Critics scoffed. The company is now starting to scoff back.
GridPoint today said it has landed a $28.7 million contract with the U.S. Postal Service to install and operate energy management systems at up to 2,250 USPS facilities across the country. The contract follows a trial at 16 locations and calls for GridPoint to install and operate its energy management system at 750 locations. The USPS has two, one-year extensions to allow GridPoint to then install the system at 1,500 additional locations. It is unclear whether the $28.7 million applies to the first, definite part of the contract or includes the options. Nonetheless, the USPS is definitely a well-known customer.
The USPS wants to reduce energy consumption in its facilities by 30 percent by 2015.
Call it the beginning of GridPoint 3.0. The Arlington, Va.-based company -- which has raised over $200 million from investors -- started out in the early part of the decade promoting a system for managing energy in upper-middle-class homes. Because energy prices were still comparatively low at that point, the market failed to develop.
In turn, GridPoint decided to take the software and transform it into an operating system for the grid. To enhance its portfolio, it went on a buying spree. It bought V2Green, which allows utilities to communicate with electric cars, in 2008 and followed in 2009 with Lixar, which makes building energy management consoles and tools.
This February, GridPoint acquired Standard Renewable Energy, a retrofitter with a solar division, a move that ushered in phase three. Under the new plan, GridPoint will offer residential and commercial energy retrofits, advice and help on distributed energy generation, and then use the software tools it has concocted over the years to monitor and manage the facilities it touches. The business plan echoes the business strategies in whole or part of EnerNoc, Recurve and SolarCity and even a few large conglomerates like Johnson Controls and Siemens. As part of the new plan, GridPoint also hired executives from Microsoft and elsewhere to staff key positions.
"We will beat $100 million in revenue in 2010," CEO Peter Corsell (pictured) told us in March. "We and Silver Spring are by far the most successful (smart grid) companies."
Hello, skeptics! Despite the money and headlines, GridPoint has made few details public to date. The most visible project the company has been involved in is SmartGridCity, Xcel Energy's home automation project with a budget that swelled beyond $100 million. To contain costs, Xcel asked participating companies to pay to have their technologies become part of the project.
GridPoint has also swapped executives and endured layoffs. Mike Carlson, whom GridPoint recruited from Xcel, involuntarily left the company, among others. Comments on GridPoint articles reveal a lingering trail of ill will.
The $100 million figure particularly made critics raise their eyebrows. Execs who read Corsell's quote predicted that the company would only hit that mark if it acquired more companies this year. (Side note: he mentioned Silver Spring, which sources say has now pushed back an IPO because of PG&E's difficulties with its smart grid roll-out.)
GridPoint has inherited some contracts from its acquisitions. For example, management systems installed in a few Wendy's restaurants in Florida -- which include lighting controls and block employees from tweaking the thermostat too much -- came from an acquisition. Any Austin customers can likely be traced back to the Standard acquisition. Overall, GridPoint's software operates at 6,000 locations, the company says.
The USPS deal, however, was one made directly by GridPoint, according to company sources.