“Renew Home” company brings power grid data to your smart home

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“Renew Home” company brings power grid data to your smart home

Alphabet

Google’s Nest Renue energy tracking feature is being spun off into a new company called “Renew Home.” The core concept is partnering with power companies to obtain data about the current condition of the power grid and using that data to change consumer habits. Usually, when a company gets spun out of Google it becomes an Alphabet company, but that’s not the case here. Google is transferring assets to a new independent company, of which Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners (SIP) is an investor, and Alphabet is an investor in SIP.

The first existing service getting pulled into Renew Home is Nest Renew. This service for Nest Thermostats uses power company data to tell consumers how their electricity is being generated and what it costs. That data lets your thermostat do things like automatically shift heating and cooling to times of day when energy is cheaper or cleaner, and shows various reports about the cleanness of the energy you’ve been using. (Nest’s feature that lets utility companies remotely take control of your thermostat, Rush Hour Rewards, does not seem to be part of Renew Home.)

Another service being pulled into Renew Home is the SIP-owned OhmConnect, which is the same basic idea as Nest’s grid data-power thermostat adjustments but for more than just your thermostat. OhmConnect is compatible with a very small list of smart devices, like Nest-rival Ecobee and Honeywell thermostats, TP-Link’s “Kasa” smart home system, and Tesla vehicles. The backbone of the service appears to be the in-house “OhmPlug” smart outlet, which can monitor the energy usage of anything that plugs into the wall. By seeing that you’ve turned these smart devices during peak usage times, OhmConnect offers people rewards like gift cards or cash for not using power when the grid is at capacity.

The OhmPlug.

OhmConnect

This might seem strange in most places where the power grid can keep up with demand, but in places like Google’s home in California, where the solution to power supply problems is rolling blackouts, anything to lessen power usage is probably helpful.

The deal should close in 2024, but the press release notes the deal is “subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.”

So then this means Google is spinning out Nest Renew to an unrelated company outside of the Alphabet umbrella. That explains the involvement of regulators. We’ve corrected the article to remove mentions of Alphabet ownership.

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