Opower software encourages energy savings

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce
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Opower’s software is used by almost
100 utilities. Photo courtesy Opower

Dan Yates and Alex Laskey started Opower in 2007 after recognizing that climate change was going to be a huge issue.

The two thought their company could make a big impact by providing utility companies with programs helping customers understand how to manage their energy bills. “We don’t have a lot of software providers coming to the table with solutions,” says Michael Sachse, Opower’s senior vice president of marketing. “That is the niche we have been able to fill.”

The Arlington-based com­­­­­­­pany’s cloud-based software enables utilities to communicate with customers and drive energy savings. “We contract with the utility companies,” Sachse says, noting his company has grown from 30 employees to 600 since 2009. “We went public in April 2014.”

In August Opower was named to Fortune’s first “Change the World” list of companies that have made a sizeable impact on major social or environmental problems. The company’s software provides information on customers’ energy usage and gives them the ability to track their energy consumption. Opower also provides utility companies with analytics.

“The average utility customer spends about nine minutes a year thinking about their energy use,” Sachse says. “We have made energy information sensible and actionable for customers. The information may come in the form of paper mailings, emails, text messaging or a website.”

Opower’s software platform is used by almost 100 utilities worldwide. Its software reaches more than 50 million households and businesses.

In September, Opower expanded its energy efficiency program for Hawaii Energy to nearly 250,000 residential customers across the state. The program has helped Hawaiian customers save more than $5 million on their energy bills, the company says.

“We saw the energy bill as a huge opportunity for innovation and improvement,” says Sachse. “When people look at their energy bill, it’s hard for them to understand. We have built a platform to analyze the bill and present the analysis coupled with insights to customers through multiple channels. Customers change their behavior as a result.”

In making Fortune’s first “Change the World” list,  Opower was in good company. Others on the list include Google, Facebook, Starbucks, Whole Foods, Twitter and Kickstarter.

“This is an exciting company to be in,” says Sachse. “We are small compared to many other companies on this list. It’s recognition of the opportunity we at Opower have as a company but also the opportunity that software companies serving utilities have as a whole.”

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