Opower moving into devices as energy management battle heats up


Quick Take: Many energy management companies have de-emphasized hardware over the past few years. It has been hard to convince utilities to subsidize the cost of installing an expensive programmable thermostat or home energy monitor. And hardware is notorious for its low profit margins. Yet here we have a company that wants to add hardware to its product line. We can only speculate the firm believes it can do something disruptive. Either lower the cost dramatically or (more likely) create something truly innovative. If the latter, Opower will need to leapfrog the hip Nest Learning Thermostat developed by alumni from Apple and Google. Reading between the lines, it seems that mobile access will be one key. The thermostat may sit on the wall, but your smartphone will act as the remote. - Jesse Berst


Fresh on the heels of increasing uptake of Opower customer engagement software and programs, the Arlington, VA-based company has revealed it now plans to move strongly into hardware as well. It signaled its intentions with the hiring of Alex Kinnier for the new position of Senior Vice President of Devices and Real-Time Services. (Hopefully Opower will be better at naming products than they are at naming positions.)


Before joining Opower, Kinnier was a partner at New Enterprise Associates and Khosla Ventures and responsible for investments relating to consumer engagement and clean energy. Prior to that he worked as a product manager at Google and founded two energy-related startups. Opower says he'll be responsible for devices being co-developed with Honeywell. And for further enhancing Opower's customer portals.

Alex Kinnier Joins Opower as SVP of Devices and Real-Time Services 

Kinnier will lead effort to make utility experience more ubiquitous, engaging and actionable for millions of utility customers all over the world

ARLINGTON, VA - July 27, 2012 - Opower, the world’s leading energy management software company, today announced that top technology venture capitalist and entrepreneur Alex Kinnier has been appointed as the company’s new Senior Vice President of Devices and Real-Time Services. In this newly established role, Mr. Kinnier will lead Opower’s business unit developing a smart thermostat in partnership with Honeywell and will oversee other Opower initiatives focused on actionable energy efficiency and demand response. Mr. Kinnier, who has more than 14 years’ experience as an entrepreneur, venture capitalist and product manager in the technology and energy sectors, will also join Opower’s management team.

"With more than 75 utilities depending on Opower’s customer engagement platform, our focus during this next phase of growth is to deliver even more value and insight to help consumers save energy every month,” said Opower CEO Dan Yates. "Alex will lead the next evolution of our platform, transforming the utility experience to make it more reliable, secure and engaging for home energy customers every day. Alex has the experience, judgment and drive to lead Opower’s efforts in this emerging arena. His entrepreneurial background and tech industry expertise will be a welcome addition to the Opower management team.”

Before joining Opower, Mr. Kinnier served as a Partner at New Enterprise Associates and Khosla Ventures. At both firms he was responsible for investments relating to consumer engagement and clean energy technology. Mr. Kinnier will continue to serve on boards for NEA. Mr. Kinnier had previously worked as a product management executive at Google, where he played a leading role in the $3.1 billion acquisition and integration of advertising company DoubleClick. Mr. Kinnier also founded two start-ups focused on energy efficiency and demand response. He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Lehigh University and an MBA from Harvard University. 

"Opower is the provider of choice for utilities that want to educate and engage consumers around energy savings,” said Mr. Kinnier. "I am excited to join Opower’s talented executive team and work with our partner utilities to offer new services utilizing real-time consumer engagement to drive significant peak targeted energy savings.” 

In his new role, Mr. Kinnier will lead efforts to develop:

â--             Devices. Opower’s partnership with Honeywell will result in a platform that includes mobile-connected devices to help utilities boost energy efficiency programs and drive deeper peak targeted savings in the home and maximize return on investment. The technology will measure, analyze and report homeowners’ electricity use, including detailed information from the thermostat which controls heating and cooling systems â€" equipment that accounts for almost 50 percent of all residential energy consumption.

â--             Peak-time savings and demand response.  Opower offers smart meter utilities a platform to engage home energy consumers in peak targeted savings programs.

â--             Real-time energy efficiency feedback.  Opower is the leading provider for utility energy advice portals.  Mr. Kinnier will help drive efforts to make this online engagement platform even more robust and allow customers to get more immediate and actionable feedback on how to save energy.

About Opower

Opower, the world’s leading energy management software company, provides the utility industry’s only cross-channel platform proven to drive energy efficiency gains on a large scale. Using cutting-edge behavioral science and patent-pending analytics, the Opower platform enables utilities to provide targeted energy data and advice to each customer. Over 75 utilitiesâ€"including 8 of the 10 largest in the U.S.â€"partner with Opower to improve the effectiveness of their energy-efficiency portfolios and motivate their customers to become more energy efficient, while dramatically increasing the level of customer engagement and overall customer satisfaction. Founded in 2007 and privately held, Opower is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, with additional offices in San Francisco and London. For more information, please visit www.opower.com and follow us on Twitter at @Opower.

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