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NRTC Agreement With Nest Labs Advances DR Opportunity

Randy Sukow Dec 28, 2016

NRTC is anticipating a big response to its new agreement with Nest Labs of Palo Alto, CA. The Nest Learning Thermostat has been a popular consumer product in recent years and Nest Labs has been at the forefront of the Internet of Things (IoT) movement. Now NRTC members have the chance to offer their customers Nest thermostats to at affordable rates through an imaginative demand response program.

NRTC has been observing Nest for some time and has been impressed with its progress going as far back as the 2014 NRTC annual meeting. CEO Tim Bryan told members there that the connected home was “the next big thing” and that Google’s $3.2 billion purchase of Nest Labs was proof.  Ever since, consumers have been taking advantage of Nest thermostat features, including remote smartphone control, self-learning capability and the ability to adjust temperature when it senses nobody is home.

The big news for NRTC members is the Nest Rush Hour Rewards (RHR) program. Cooperative customers will now be able to save money without sacrificing comfort during the hottest summer days and frigid winter nights. Nest thermostats have the intelligence to adjust settings prior to peak hours, but maintain temperatures at the consumer’s preferred levels.

Under the RHR program, NRTC members will receive Nest assistance with marketing and enrolling residential customers and discounted pricing through bulk device purchases. The devices are easy to install; 91 percent of consumers purchasing the retail device have been able to install it themselves, Nest says. The result has been an average 55 percent HVAC load reduction for customers of utilities that are participating in RHR.

Perhaps the greatest RHR advantage is that the Nest program treats every household differently, using such details as the number of people in the home and the daily weather reports when planning and announcing demand response events. The event process begins when consumers receive an easy-to-understand online communication that a “rush hour” is approaching.

The thermostat will indicate when an event is in progress and will simultaneously balance customer comfort settings with load control in a seamless process. If necessary, the thermostat allows the customer to adjust settings during an event. Nest studies find that customers are more likely to trust and participate in RHR if they have full control. At the same time, Nest says that adjustments during an event are rare.

NRTC in coming weeks will provide more information about Nest as well as other new demand response-related solutions it is introducing. The NRTC booth (#727) at NRECA’s TechAdvantage Expo in San Diego, CA, Feb. 27-March 1, will feature Nest representatives with more information about the RHR program. NRTC encourages members who would like to learn more today to contact their regional business managers through the Contact page.

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