NRG Energy, a leading competitive energy supplier in the U.S., is also leading the industry in partnerships and acquisitions.
Its most recent partnership is with Lucid, a California-based software developer that pioneered energy dashboarding more than a decade ago. Lucid more recently created a successful product called BuildingOS that ties together data from disparate building management systems and on-site energy systems into a universal operating system. The company has raised more than $16 million in venture capital.
NRG is now making BuildingOS a core offering for its commercial and industrial customers looking to more actively manage their energy use. The company hopes to get Lucid's software installed at 2,500 sites by the end of the year.
The partnership is led by NRG Renew, the energy provider's new arm devoted to large-scale project development and C&I energy management.
Robyn Beavers, NRG Renew's senior VP of innovation, called Lucid's BuildingOS software "an anchor" for its customized offerings in the sector.
"We're entering a highly distributed world that leads to mass customization for energy solutions," said Beavers. "Having the data from BuildingOS informs our strategy. This is kind of like an anchor to that."
BuildingOS has been integrated into more than 10,000 buildings around the country, linking up systems from 160 different technology integrators onto a common monitoring platform. Lucid CEO Vladi Shunturov said the company is seeing a more diverse range of needs from building managers and owners.
"A number of customers are now interested in on-site generation. They're also asking for access to their smart-meter data; they're asking for data from their energy management systems and submeters. In California, they're asking for water data. Having that unified view is important," said Shunturov.
Since NRG split itself into three distinct divisions last year -- NRG Home, NRG Business and NRG Renew -- the company has been focused on "personalized power" offerings for homeowners and commercial businesses. That includes installing on-site generation and integrating software to help manage energy use.
NRG has been on a buying spree in solar. In the last 18 months, it has acquired Roof Diagnostics Solar to build its installation business, bought Pure Energies for customer acquisition, and scooped up Goal Zero for mobile solar applications. In 2011, NRG bought Solar Power Partners to expand its commercial solar business. There are also rumors that the company is preparing to buy Next Step Living's solar division.
In efficiency, NRG directly invested in EcoFactor to capture a piece of the home energy management market.
The partnership with Lucid will give it a proven energy management solution for its commercial and industrial customers. Beavers said that NRG met with more than 150 vendors and startups last year to evaluate their C&I offerings. NRG chose to work with Lucid because its software is designed to integrate virtually any type of communications system within a building, offering more flexibility.
"It’s more about developing a strategy that can accommodate different partners and vendors over time. You don't want to get locked down," said Beavers.
For more on how partnerships between large and small companies are evolving, read GTM Research's Partnerships at the Grid Edge report.