Another development today in Google’s long-term strategy to streamline some of its less-core business operations. Google Nest Renew — a load shifting service for Google Nest owners get them to consume energy at off-peak times when energy is less expensive, or there are “cleaner” grid options available when your grid is cleaner or energy is less expensive — is spinning out from Google and combining with OhmConnect, a part of Sidewalk Infrastructure Labs that helps manage load shifting services for Nest and other smart thermostat brands. The new company will be called “Renew Home.”
As part of the deal, SIP will be kicking in $100 million into the new entity, and it will become a majority owner of it. Google is not investing at this time and is staying on as a minority shareholder. There is no valuation being disclosed, a spokesperson said. OhmConnect is currently active in California, Texas, and New York, and the new company, Renew Home, plans to expand into new markets once launched, the spokesperson added.
The deal is bringing together partners and entities that have been investing in, and working together, for some time already. Although the companies will argue that this is a sign of how they are doubling down on the opportunity, it also underscores how Google, SIP and the ecosystem created around them are continuing to try to figure out more solid, longer term business models in the clean energy industry.
It will also be tapping into more applications for energy use. Future plans, the company said, will focus on “whole-home energy management,” which includes EV charging, solar systems and more. That will include, it said, working on further hardware partnerships, too.
“We’re incredibly excited about this transaction. Renew Home will optimize the way households across the country consume energy and interact with the electrical grid, strategically aligning their energy consumption to reduce their energy bills while reducing pressure on the grid, particularly during moments of peak stress and times when clean energy is less readily available (for instance, in the evening, when solar energy is coming offline),” said Jonathan Winer, co-founder and co-CEO of Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, in a statement provided to TechCurnch. “This is critical: by mitigating the intermittency of renewable energy, Renew Home — and the broader virtual power plant (VPP) industry — will be instrumental in allowing us to bring more renewable energy onto the grid.”
The company has set a target of accounting for 30GW of shiftable load and working in 10 million homes by 2030.
The spinouts in this story might be enough to make you dizzy. Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners itself was once a part of Sidewalk Labs, which got its start originally as a Google “moonshot” in 2015 with the lofty goal of using tech to improve urban life. SIP was then spun out of Sidewalk Labs in 2020 with a $400 million investment from Google.
Sidewalk Labs then was designated as an Alphabet company, before in 2021 getting folded into Google itself, downsizing and spinning out one piece (Canopy) while effectively shutting down as a separate project.
Meanwhile, OhmConnect was initially nurtured as a side project of SIP, and the latter continued to be a minority shareholder in it. Nest Renew has been one of OhmConnect’s customers, alongside Sensi, ecobee, Carrier and others. It also works with hot water heater manufacturers, appliance manufacturers and solar and battery storage manufacturers, it said.
The deal has some scale to it. OhmConnect says that it currently has over 225,000 customers across the different thermostat brands and others that it works with. While there a millions of Nest thermostats being used in the U.S. and further afield, these are not necessarily being used in conjunction with Nest Renew.
There is some competition for that piece of business: for consumers who want to partake in load shifting, there are a number of other players in the market, including electricity companies themselves offering these services directly, too. (In the U.K. for example, the National Grid also offers load shifting.) One goal of Renew Home will be to try to win over more of that business.