Energy

What’s Behind Schneider Electric’s Move to Divest AutoGrid to Uplight?

This Research Note looks at what’s behind Schneider Electric’s latest move to divest AutoGrid to Uplight, the Boulder, Colorado-based utility software company. We review the history and assess the current state of play behind the transaction. In December 2023, Uplight announced an agreement to acquire AutoGrid, a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) and Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) provider, based in Redwood City, California. On the surface, this divestment by Schneider Electric appeared to be a strategic pivot, after many years of investment in AutoGrid, particularly as this deal was announced only 19 months on from Schneider Electric purchasing the company. AutoGrid Acquired by Schneider Electric in 2022 A series of partnerships and investments by Schneider Electric over the last 10 years culminated in a May 2022 agreement to acquire AutoGrid: Schneider had been working with AutoGrid since a 2013 partnership to optimize its Wiser brand of smart thermostats and home energy management devices, using […]

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This Research Note looks at what’s behind Schneider Electric’s latest move to divest AutoGrid to Uplight, the Boulder, Colorado-based utility software company. We review the history and assess the current state of play behind the transaction.

In December 2023, Uplight announced an agreement to acquire AutoGrid, a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) and Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) provider, based in Redwood City, California.

On the surface, this divestment by Schneider Electric appeared to be a strategic pivot, after many years of investment in AutoGrid, particularly as this deal was announced only 19 months on from Schneider Electric purchasing the company.

AutoGrid Acquired by Schneider Electric in 2022

A series of partnerships and investments by Schneider Electric over the last 10 years culminated in a May 2022 agreement to acquire AutoGrid:

  • Schneider had been working with AutoGrid since a 2013 partnership to optimize its Wiser brand of smart thermostats and home energy management devices, using the startup’s first product, its demand response optimization and management system.
  • In May 2019, Schneider Electric invested in AutoGrid, becoming a major shareholder in the company with a 10% stake. The company also launched a co-innovation partnership with AutoGrid, focused on using its Energy Internet and Flex platforms to plan, implement and manage distributed energy projects.
  • In January 2020, Schneider Electric and AutoGrid announced a fully integrated Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS) and Distributed Energy Resources Management System (DERMS).

The declared aim at the time of the acquisition was to accelerate AI adoption in the power sector and put Autogrid’s data analytics and machine learning to use in managing distributed energy resources and microgrids for industrial and commercial customers. Plans were also announced to incorporate the full range of AutoGrid's capabilities into Schneider’s microgrids business.

“Joining forces with Autogrid will give customers the most advanced platform to integrate and orchestrate distributed energy resources for the benefit of all grid stakeholders,” said Luis D’Acosta, Executive Vice President of Digital Energy at Schneider Electric. “These new capabilities will accelerate prosumer engagement for a more sustainable and efficient grid.”

So, what has changed since May 2022? Maybe, not so much, given that Luis d’Acosta, the former EVP of Digital Energy at Schneider Electric, responsible for managing the Autogrid acquisition, moved to Uplight in September 2022 as their new CEO and is now in charge of a successful merger of the two entities.

AutoGrid Uplight Schneider Electric

AutoGrid Acquired by Uplight in 2023

The key difference is the fact that Uplight’s customer engagement capabilities are combined with Autogrid’s technology in a single unified platform to integrate, orchestrate, and monetize distributed energy resources (DERs). Schneider Electric recognized that Uplight’s solutions better complemented AutoGrid’s DERMS technology when it came to building an offering that meets utility customers’ current needs. This major customer-centric element was apparently missing in the Schneider Electric solution, which has led to the sale.

“The grid is at a critical inflection point that demands integrated, effective digital solutions to accelerate electrification, efficiency, and decarbonization,” said Luis D’Acosta, CEO of Uplight. “Our new platform will combine Uplight’s deep customer engagement capabilities and AutoGrid’s leading renewables and flexible capacity management solutions to provide a vibrant connected ecosystem where our utility clients, energy users, and equipment manufacturers can accelerate their impact in the energy transition.”

The fact that Schneider Electric is also a strategic investor in Uplight since 2021 and after the deal closes, will be the largest investor means that it is still in a position to capitalize on this potential.

This new combined Uplight entity with more than 700 employees is a significant step towards another approach to accelerating the digital transformation of an increasingly complex and evolving North American electricity grid.

While no longer part of the group’s core business, Schneider Electric is still very much invested in the future of DERMS and VPP technology.

This article was written by Daphne Tomlinson, Senior Research Associate at Memoori.

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