Recently expanded smart energy startup, AlertMe has prevailed against stiff competition to land a strategically important deal with British Gas. The agreement will see it provide the utility’s smart meter customers with a personalised energy efficiency advice service.
AlertMe’s cloud based home monitoring service will take data from the smart meters and provide the consumer with simple ‘actionable’ information on how their energy usage compares with other people in the street, for example, and how to reduce their use of energy.
The service is free to British Gas customers and will be trialed in 10,000 homes in the summer, with a wider roll out starting in the autumn. British Gas is the UK’s largest supplier of domestic energy, serving 10 million homes and 15.9 million energy accounts.
The deal marks AlertMe’s first large-scale roll out of ‘Big Data’ services based on smart meter data according to the press release.
Smart meters allow users to keep track of how much gas and electricity they are using in real time. The government has ordered that all homes be fitted with the technology by 2020.
AlertMe co-founder, Pilgrim Beart said that British Gas believes that Personal Energy Efficiency Advice is key piece in the jigsaw for smart meter customers. “The tender process was highly competitive and we are very pleased to be the partner chosen.” he said.
He says that this kind of deal will make smart energy - a large suite of services and functionality way beyond simple remote meter reading - a “ubiquitous offering.”
AlertMe recently move into larger premises at Station Road in Cambridge, driven by expansion Beart says, and the company now employs something in the region of 100 full time and contract staff across its operations.
The platform is seen as an important one for cross-selling and up-selling, for example recommending that a customer insulates their loft or services their boiler, based on their energy usage data.
As a deregulated market, the UK is an attractive one to the leading global players. Similar services have been rolled out in the more fragmented - and regulated - energy market in the US by companies like Opower. That company has managed to get its product into something in the region of 20 million households across the US but as the drivers there are regulatory rather than business based, this is one market where there are potentially bigger fish to fry outside the US. Opower announced its move into the UK market last summer.
Beart says he doesn’t see smart meters as a replacement for the devices AlertMe uses to gather energy data and control elements of energy use, but rather as an adjunct. “Our system extends the things we can do for consumers until smart meters arrive and the roll-out won’t affect our proposition. Deals like this one demonstrate that.” Energy management gateways of the kind AlertMe specialises in will actually be a means by which consumers can control how they share their smart meter data - owned by them as far as the UK Government is concerned - with utilities and service providers.
British Gas already provides customers with an AlertMe in-home energy display as part of its Energy Smart Tariff and will also be rolling out other services with AlertMe during 2012.
Beart says there is “more good news coming down the pipe.”
AlertMe was founded in 2006 by Beart and Adrian Critchlow and has so far raised a total of £28m in three venture rounds.
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