Google’s Nest Renew service is leaving Google and merging with the OhmConnect energy management platform to form a new company called Renew Home. Venture capitalist firm Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners (SIP), which backs OhmConnect and is putting $100 million into the new company, announced the move, saying it will create “the country’s largest energy transition resource.”
“Renew Home … will help accelerate the growth of the virtual power plant (VPP) industry,” SIP CEO Jonathan Winer
OhmConnect pays its users to reduce their consumption at peak times. It currently helps over 220,000 homeowners in California, Texas, and New York City save money by leveraging Ohm smart plugs and smart thermostats. In California and New York, it works with electricity utilities like PG&E; in Texas, it is itself an electricity provider.
In a statement to The Verge, Google spokesperson Patrick Seybold confirmed the news, saying that current Nest Renew customers will not be disrupted: “Renew Home will power the Nest Renew service going forward, and we expect customers to have a seamless experience, plus improved experiences and offerings over time.”
As an “energy transition resource,” Renew Home plans to combine OhmConnect’s home energy management platform with Google Nest’s “leadership in energy products and services that help customers prioritize cheaper and cleaner energy” to help transition smart homes and smart devices to work as virtual power plants.
“We believe that Renew Home, working with partners across the industry, will help accelerate the growth of the virtual power plant (VPP) industry, a critical step to enabling the more dynamic energy grid we need to power a carbon-free future,” SIP CEO Jonathan Winer wrote in the blog post.
Virtual power plants use software to coordinate groups of smart homes that can provide energy to the grid when needed — through vehicle-to-grid charging, home solar systems, and home batteries — and reduce grid demand by dynamically adjusting smart thermostats or turning off connected appliances.
SIP — which counts Google’s parent company, Alphabet, as a principal investor — says it has invested $100 million into Renew Home. Google will remain as a minority equity holder in the new company. The Nest Renew service will stay under Google until the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is finalized.