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FRI Public Utility Symposium Sept. 25, 2019

It’s That Simple

We talked last Friday with Justin Segall, Simple Energy’s president, about his merger with Tendril.

PUF: You have a very interesting job at a very interesting company.

Justin: We started Simple Energy about nine years ago in recognition that there was a fundamental disconnect between people and how they use energy, that was manifested in the utility-customer relationship.

We leverage data and behavioral science and technology to not only help customers change their behavior but get connected to energy-saving products and services. Then help orchestrate and manage connected devices and other solutions in their home.

PUF: How do you all do this?

Justin: Simple Energy has been best known for our utility-branded marketplaces, which we have deployed across about forty utilities, reaching almost sixty million households. And having that Amazon-like experience where a customer gets a personalized set of information and products and services. And can take advantage instantly of rebates such as for energy efficiency or demand response or distributed energy.

And now with the new company Uplight [the merger of Simple Energy and Tendril], we have over seventy-five utility partners, reaching over a hundred million homes and businesses. Bringing together the solutions – for engaging, empowering, orchestrating energy consumer actions — allows utilities and other providers to work with a single partner to deliver an integrated optimized platform.

PUF: How did you — Simple Energy and Tendril — bump into each other and say, let's talk?

Justin: Simple Energy was launched by a startup accelerator based in Boulder called Techstars back in 2011. Our lead mentor was Tim Enwall, founder of Tendril. And then we met Adrian Tuck, who has been CEO of Tendril and is CEO of the new company Uplight.

PUF: When some transactions end up, the merged company’s name sounds like a toothpaste. Uplight, though, is a cool name.

Justin: When we came with Uplight, it's really us shining a light upon our utility customers and supporting and enabling them to do the same, to shine a light upon their customers and help them achieve the different outcomes they need. We want to help drive our utilities forward and help them become an accelerant to the clean energy ecosystem.

PUF: Where's Uplight going to be in, say, three years?

Justin: Many of our utilities have aggressive decarbonization goals and consumers of energy become an active participant for that. Taking advantage of time-of-use rates, taking advantage of distributed resources, etc.

That they're able to do all of those things in an integrated seamless experience directly aligned to the utility model. There's an important policy shift that will continue to occur as utilities are able to demonstrate they are an enabler of that platform ecosystem of the future. Their earnings models and their incentives and objectives in the regulatory construct are inherently aligned to customers.

And ultimately for customers, most importantly, that they have that personalized experience, that segment of one. That they're able to achieve what they want, what they need, in the ways they want.