Without its tendrils, a creeper couldn’t possibly explore new heights or gain new grounds where it gets ample sun light. These “bio-informants” form the core of a creeper’s ability to tap into subtle details of its surrounding and adapt to it accordingly. As a provider of personalized energy experiences for consumers globally, Tendril, a Boulder, CO-based company is vividly mimetic of this nature. In the world of utilities where rare spurts of innovation are quickly consumed by heavy layers of authoritarian regulations, the need for a smart grid that reaches above these layers is a monumental challenge. Such a mission to revitalize smart grid operations calls for an energy intelligence solution that can collect data from millions of data points on the grid, much like a creepers tendrils, and form a comprehensive understanding of real-time transmission, distribution, and consumption metrics. Tendril’s solutions help utilities launch themselves into this state of understanding, essentially the creeper’s sunlight.

Adrian Tuck, CEO at Tendril, opines that utilities must continue being the indispensable element between consumers, distributed energy resources, and energy efficiency assets, “The new role of the utilities needs to be almost like the conductor of a very complicated orchestra where there are lots of other players. They should still own the central relationship, but they won’t necessarily own and run all of the assets.” Tendril’s Energy Service Management (ESM) platform helps utilities maintain ownership of their mission critical assets, whilst helping them orchestrate such energy efficiency revolutions piling onto the grid. The overall result is that utilities can now up-sell or cross-sell products and services specific to each consumer based on the data they gather from a 360 degree viewpoint.

Tuck’s perception forms the ground premise for Tendril Orchestrated Energy, the flagship cloud-based demand management platform that enables utilities to dually optimize system operation and consumer comfort. Orchestrated Energy collates data from over 130 million homes, giving utilities an idea of each consumer’s usage patterns, control preferences, comfort preferences, and individual home characteristics. Consumers can set their basic preferences at the onset, and Orchestrated Energy takes over by learning deviations and tendencies that helps utilities optimize transmission and distribution uniquely to each consumer based on these statistics. On the other side, the platform helps reduce HVAC peak load consumption by up to fifty percent.
All these insights are conjured by the Tendril True Home simulation model that churns data from over 300 points in each home—meter data, home owner data, propensity scores, historic bills, premise data, and weather data, to name a few. The basic model is built prior to simulation, based on structural data, home type, square footage, type of heating and cooling systems, and the home’s thermodynamics. These siloes are processed through physical, behavioral, and data sciences, run through an analytics engine, and published in the form of personalized action menus, APIs to third party platforms, and energy calculators. The system is made highly cognizant—a learning algorithm decompresses timelines to find patterns and adopt them. The bolstering of sound technology turns the platform into one that goes a long way in putting the consumer well within the process of realizing a smarter grid. “I realized there was an opportunity to have a massive impact on energy efficiency just by educating people and giving them insight, choice, and control of their energy use in ways that weren't available at the time,” Tuck says.

Extending this belief in consumer involvement, Tendril released MyHome, the mobile interface that unifies consumer engagement programs unveiled by utilities from time to time. The application allows utilities to deliver personalized content, notifications, and provide real-time chat capabilities across programs. Preemptive alerts during peak seasons help consumers avoid high bill receipts at the end of the month. The solution falls under a broader set of tools, the Tendril ESM platform, which formed a nuclear component of Duke Energy’s MyHER program, involving creation and dissemination of Home Energy Reports (HERs). “A unified mobile application is an important tool in meeting the constantly evolving needs of our customers,” says Kevin Bright, Managing Director, Customer Efficiency Programs, Duke Energy. “Having worked with Tendril already to implement one of the world’s largest and most successful behavioral energy efficiency programs, we are excited to see what we can accomplish together when we are able to offer MyHome.” The implementation sparked a two-way communication culture, making usage preference, behavioral patterns, and home characteristic data available to them. More than 30 million MyHERs were distributed and read by 75 percent of recipients— drastically changing their consumption habits—and Duke Energy was able to conserve enough power to run 100,000 homes annually.

Tendril’s Behavioral Energy Efficiency (BEE) program, a fully customizable home energy reporting schema, drove a significant portion of the success that Duke Energy accomplished.

The new role of the utilities needs to be almost like the conductor of a very complicated orchestra where there are lots of other players

The reports include complete details of energy consumption that can be shared with each consumer, giving them utilizable revelations on cost-effective energy usage. Rich visualizations and easy-to-follow tips make the reports consumer-friendly and interactive. Adaptive charts and free-text fields help utilities to share with their consumers a comprehensive understanding of the usage patterns, and hence win them over to participate in the smart grid revolution. Utilities can not only customize the brand and looks of the report, but can transcend to a deeper understanding of each consumer that reflects in their individual reports.

Tuck opines that the energy industry is at a critical stage where all companies, large or small, need to partner in a joint effort, learning from past mistakes. “We quickly realized that the smart grid and energy revolution are global concerns, so we moved daftly, as a company, to start exporting our technology and services to other markets in Europe and South America,” explains Tuck, “We’ve been very active with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) driving the process of standards. We believe it’s not just sufficient to follow the standards process, but it’s important to drive and define these standards that are going to define the smart grid.”

Tendril’s commitment to grinding gears in a movement that is larger than life reflects in the workplace. Tuck attributes the conduciveness to development and innovation at Tendril to the feeling of pride that his employees often express; and enduring sense of being a part of something bigger. The world-class culture that Tendril believes and invests in is a precursor to the rapid innovation they drive in the smart grid landscape. The Denver Post featured Tendril in the ‘Top 125 Workplaces’ list this year, the fourth time that the company has made it to the list. “We have happy customers, happy employees, and happy investors. It is testament to the great group of people we have in the workplace. Our customers, employees and investors really have been impressive in the success we are seeing as a company,” concludes Tuck.