On Friday, April 4, Opower, a Software as a Service platform provider for utilities, had its initial public offering and raised about $116 million. Opower provides software to utilities that then offer it to their customers, allowing customers to monitor and reduce their energy consumption and allowing utilities to reduce electricity demand while improving their relationships with their customers.
Opower uses a cloud-based platform and the latest data analytics software, but it is more than just a technology company. The company incorporates behavioral science into its offering. Since 2007, when Opower partnered with its first utility, it has collected and analyzed massive amounts of information on consumer behavior.
One thing that makes the company unique from many of its competitors is that it not only provides customers with information about their own energy consumption but it also provides them with information about their neighbors’ energy consumption. And, in classic keeping up with the Joneses fashion, this information proved to be one of the best ways to motivate people to reduce their energy consumption.
I first heard of Opower in 2010 when the company exhibited at DistribuTECH. The then little-known company had a 10-by-10 booth on the exhibit floor. A couple of years later, I met with Opower in its larger booth at DistribuTECH, and that’s when I really learned what the company was all about. This past January at DistribuTECH, Opower had a much more significant presence than in the past. Not only did I meet with Opower executives to catch up, I moderated a webcast in which two utilities, Direct Energy, the largest competitive retail energy provider in the U.S., and BG&E highlighted their demand response programs in which Opower plays a significant role.