In the electricity distribution world, demand response (DR) represents a dynamic demand mechanism for managing customer consumption of electricity during traditional heavy load or other critical times via incentives based on price. Solution, software and hardware providers have been attacking this space for over a decade in North America. That includes incumbent providers (meter companies), electric utilities themselves, and a newer generation of startups building on increasingly sophisticated connectivity platforms (cloud, Wi-Fi). One of those startups is a company in Palo Alto that has been generating some significant “buzz”.
Nest Labs designs and manufactures a sensor-driven, Wi-Fi-enabled, learning, programmable thermostat that is now in its second generation. Nest is led by Tony Fadell, a former Apple executive with a stellar pedigree, having helped bring the iPod and iPhone into the world. He and co-founder Matt Rogers recruited an A-list team from Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Logitech, to drop but a few names.
With some solid market success selling the thermostat under their belt, Nest announced this week an expansion of their solution to incorporate DR as part of the overall value proposition, using the Nest thermostat as a platform for managing energy during peak times.
Whether the DR solution from Nest (called Rush Hour Rewards, BTW) is materially different than some of the other offerings already in existence is not yet clear. However, the announcement included the creation of new residential demand-response programs with Austin Energy, Green Mountain Energy and Southern California Edison, along with an existing one with Reliant Energy. Combine that with the founders Apple heritage and the current Nest buzz could begin to make DR more top-of-mind with consumers.