France-headquartered multinational utility ENGIE has followed up acquisitions in smart energy by incorporating three companies, including commercial energy storage provider Green Charge, into its parent brand with the explicit aim of furthering its position in North American markets.

The three, all headquartered in the US, are: Green Charge (also sometimes known as Green Charge Networks), a Washington-based energy data analytics and optimisation company, Ecova, and Opterra Energy Services, which installs energy efficient solutions for customers, including solar panels and LED lighting.  

ENGIE said the rebranding of the three “is designed to amplify ENGIE’s voice in the North American market” and raise the visibility of the parent company in each of the acquired subsidiaries’ fields. It appears the utility is happy with its profile in the utility-scale and distributed generation sectors, but wants to “build an even more comprehensive portfolio of energy offerings in North America”. In a 2016 corporate blog, ENGIE said that all three acquisitions had been “strategic transactions aimed at delivering broader value to energy consumers”.

Green Charge will now be known as ENGIE Storage Services NA, continuing to be headquartered in Santa Clara, California. The company was recently identified by research firm IHS Markit as one of three leaders in commercial and industrial (C&I) energy storage in the US, with a value proposition based around lowering business clients’ energy costs through peak shaving – managing the expensive demand charges levied onto commercial electric ratepayers that can constitute as much as 50% of a company’s power bills. Green Charge also accrues further revenues through provision of grid services, particularly in helping reduce the network’s peak load. ENGIE took an 80% majority stake in the company two years ago.

As with the other two leaders in the US C&I space, Advanced Microgrid Solutions and Stem Inc, I.H.S Markit analyst Julian Jansen said that critical to their success so far has been the offering of energy storage “as-a-service” – in basic terms, creating long or medium-term agreements with customers to save them money through something akin to a subscription model, as opposed to selling equipment outright to customers to operate the assets themselves. Green Charge has executed dozens of projects on this basis, mainly in California, although the company is also the supplier of 13MWh of aggregated small-scale systems for a project in Brooklyn-Queens, used to mitigate peak demand in the New York neighbourhoods for utility ConEdison. 

Ecova is now known as ENGIE Insight Services, while Opterra Energy Services becomes ENGIE Services US.  

ENGIE continues to make moves in other geographical markets for energy storage – just in the past few days the French utility has invested in UK energy storage provider Connected Energy, which repurposes EV battery packs for stationary energy storage use, and the company also just invested in Husk Power Systems, an Indian company executing renewables-backed microgrids in Asia and Africa.

Read the entire story