3 min read May 2023 — Invest: spoke with Bucky Gardner, vice president and general manager of NRG Home East Division, about acquiring Vivint, a company with two million customers. Gardner also discussed NRG’s community solar program, which offers renewable energy with no installation needed, and its efforts to integrate electric and gas utilities into smart homes.
What have been some highlights or milestones for NRG over the last year?
In late 2022, NRG announced the acquisition of Vivint a smart home company based in Utah with two million customers across the U.S. We finalized that acquisition in early March of this year. It is the culmination of our work over the last few years to transition to a consumer services company. We are actively working on integrating the traditional NRG business of providing electricity and natural gas to customers with smart home services to make life easier.
Also, to date NRG, on behalf of its customers, has contributed more $10 million to some of the best children’s hospitals in states where we do business, including CHOP. We are very proud of this milestone.
What is your growth strategy for 2023 and beyond?
We want to take the opportunity to integrate smart homes with the services that Vivint offers. They have various residential monitoring and security products that could optimize electricity and natural gas consumption. When you combine those together through a device and/or app, it gives consumers control over their consumption. NRG is the first energy company to stitch those two things together. It is just another service that the homeowner can lean on to optimize convenience with their spending and their usage. Managing energy spend is not just about the price but about consumption and how customers can take control of how much they use.
What products are you looking to add to your portfolio?
We launched our EV Charger product late last year and it was featured at the Philly Auto Show in January. We had a lot of interest in it. Chargers can be expensive but when you couple it with the electricity service it can help the consumer pay for it over time. In that respect, our plan helps the consumer charge their car at their home overnight when electricity is typically less expensive. So it can be financially beneficial, while also being more sustainable and improves EV adoption. We want to help people get that equipment so they can spend less money and have more convenience charging their EV. We are always trying to figure out what the consumer wants and what products will deliver that.
The big focus for us now is putting together the Vivint offerings with the traditional NRG offerings. From a development standpoint, that is a big priority. Also, we are looking at a product called community solar. This is a great way for a consumer to get solar energy without putting panels on their roof. Community solar is great for renters because it allows customers to use energy credits to support local solar facilities. A bundled product with solar would work well for certain consumers because everyone has a different situation in their life and where they live. Community solar is for those who want to support a local project but it isn’t on your roof, it is in your community. Currently, we are working projects in Massachusetts and New York. The hope is to bring community solar to other states like Pennsylvania. You get great rates with a product like this and it is a way to show your commitment to renewables. It opens up solar to another type of customer and gives the customer new choices. Customer choice is key to all of these products. Choice is something utility companies cannot offer and is one way we are addressing the energy concerns of the future.
How are you reducing emissions at NRG?
NRG was one of the first energy companies to publicly commit to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. We will go out and procure solar facilities, with long-term PPAs. This is in addition to other products we offer customers that give them access to renewable electricity, which can help them offset their carbon emissions.
What is your outlook for the next two to three years and what are your top priorities?
We are optimistic about our products and the choice of services we offer. From a cost perspective, we are seeing some relief in commodity costs. That will give us some advantages that we can potentially pass onto our customers. The potential for wholesale commodity volatility will always be there but recently it has decreased. We also offer fixed-price products, which can help mitigate volatility. Like I mentioned earlier, the Vivint acquisition gives us the ability to differentiate ourselves from our competitors. It is a very new approach to the electricity and natural gas market, which are traditionally industries slow to change.
We are also focused on giving consumers control over their energy usage and costs Do you know where your meter is in your house? It is by design that many people don’t, so they don’t have to think about it and the utility company handles it. You just pay your bill because you have no choice. Our intent is to change this dynamic by giving the consumer control through technology, products, and services.
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