GridPoint was just acquired by Twenty-First Century Utilities, "an independent company formed to invest in and own regulated utilities and infrastructure to create an entirely new model for delivering energy." This information comes courtesy of a web page launched and shortly taken down at the customer's website. Here's a cached version of the page. GridPoint has not responded to GTM inquiries.
TFC Utilities is headed by Larry Kellerman, a former GridPoint board member and employee of regulated utilities Portland General Electric and Southern California Edison. In an earlier release, he said, "We are just starting up, raising capital. [...] We want to buy one or two regulated utilities."
In its first decade of existence, GridPoint raised nearly $300 million in VC funding, bought a half-dozen smaller startups -- and then ousted CEO Peter Corsell, laid off much of its staff, and more or less disappeared from view in the smart grid, EV charging and home energy analytics fields it had sought to command. At that point, many industry observers, including Greentech Media, wrote it off as a has-been from the go-go green technology fundraising days of the prior decade.
But in the past two years, the Arlington, Va.-based startup has raised $22 million in new funding, hired a new CEO, and rebuilt itself as a commercial building energy management player, expanding on the business it acquired when it bought startup ADMMicro.
GridPoint will continue operations as a subsidiary of TFC Utilities and its headquarters will remain in Arlington, Virginia.
GridPoint has about 11,000 commercial building sites under its management, with a combination of energy monitoring hardware, portfolio management software, and a services arm to help achieve and maintain efficiency improvements for customers like big-box retail, fast-food restaurants and pharmacy chains.
“We are a completely different company,” Todd Raba, GridPoint’s CEO and former top executive at Berkshire Hathaway companies Johns Manville Co. and MidAmerican Energy Holdings, said in a recent interview. “We have exited all of our legacy businesses, and are completely focused on energy management and enterprise energy solutions.”
Hardware, software and services as the "three legs of the stool"
“When we talk about our offering, we talk about three legs of the stool,” said Raba in an earlier interview. Those include hardware to monitor and control key energy-using equipment like HVAC systems, refrigerators, ovens and lighting systems, a cloud-based software management platform to analyze and plot out least-cost interventions to reduce energy bills and keep up on maintenance, and importantly, service personnel to help its corporate clients put these tools to use.
“Particularly with the smaller entities that don’t have a dedicated staff, we’re providing that support to them, helping them set lighting schedules, temperature set points, and the other things a more sophisticated customer might do on their own,” he said.
GridPoint has been able to show significant energy cost reductions in its initial deployments, ranging from 10 percent for the 1,751 stores it has set up for an 8,000-site pharmacy chain, to 27 percent for the 23 sites it has gone into for an 1,100-site big-box retailer, according to its statistics for typical results after one year in operation.
These are not values lost on the competition, of course. Big energy services companies (ESCOs) like Siemens, Schneider Electric, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Ecova and Elster’s EnergyICT are tackling the small to medium-size building market with similar propositions. Smaller contenders like Verisae are gaining ground by specializing in specific verticals like grocery store chains, while energy disaggregation startups like PlotWatt are using single-building energy data feeds to diagnose wasted power and faulty equipment without multiple sensors.
From the enterprise viewpoint, remote energy audits from software specialists like FirstFuel, Retroficiency and Pulse Energy (acquired by EnerNOC) can also provide important insights on building portfolios. But a wraparound hardware, software and services approach is rarer for the small and medium-size buildings market, Raba said. “There are folks that do software, that do metering, that do controls -- but there’s no one who does the whole enchilada the way GridPoint does.”