Lee talks about the company’s “work hard, play hard” culture, the aging grid, and the achievable goal of the “Utility of One”.
UMC: What is the origin of the company’s name?
Leesa Lee: Bidgely is a Hindi word that means “electricity”.
UMC: What inspired Abhay Gupta and Vivek Garud to create the company in 2011?
Lee: Bidgely is a classic Silicon Valley story where the founders identified a problem and realized that technology had advanced to the point where there was a solution. The problem, in this case, was a need to shift energy usage and achieve significant grid challenges. The enabling technologies were smart meter data and machine learning.
UMC: What is the company culture like at Bidgely?
Lee: We’re a “work hard, play hard” culture. Everyone is very driven and self-motivated within our mission-driven company, but we all get along well and enjoy working together. It’s a very fast-paced environment, with a strong drive to excellence and to make a difference in the world.
UMC: Why does energy efficiency make such a difference in not only what individuals pay out of pocket, but for our environment?
Lee: We’re all aware of the aging grid and to reduce the need on expensive and inefficient “peaker” plants. In addition, changes to the grid in the form of PVs and EVs will have an impact. The cheapest kilowatt-hour is the one you don’t use, so energy efficiency is a great way to reduce strain on the grid in a highly economically-favorable way.
UMC: Tell me about your newest solution Bidgely Platform V3. How will this new platform benefit your customers end users?
Lee: Version 3 adds significant new functionality and shows how we’re continuing to fulfill our promise of disaggregation – to reinvent how utilities engage with consumers. The platform is an integrated solution that allows utilities to start with a single product and expand as their needs evolve, while leveraging the initial investment and integration efforts (e.g. data ingestion, white labeling, account integration, etc.). There are many new features in V3, but highlights include Universal Disaggregation (extending appliance itemization to all homes, including those without smart meters); Digitalization (a seamless way for consumers to go paperless); home audits/assessments (to help consumers fine-tune their homes); and an API (to allow consumers to see itemization within their existing MyAccount page or paper bill).
UMC: Behavioral Demand Response is a solution I am not very familiar with. How does changing consumer usage positively affect utility clients?
Lee: Behavioral Demand Response (BDR) is a great way to help shift load during critical peak periods. Because it is behavioral, it does not require any special equipment to be installed, thereby extending the reach of DR to all homes and all appliances (not just heating/cooling). This is particularly important for utilities who need to extend the benefits of DR to underserved populations – such as renters or low income – who are not typically targets of other DR programs.
UMC: Can we talk about the Jackson family case study? What were the results and, more importantly, why did you choose to take such a personal look at how your solutions may impact people’s lives?
Lee: Utilities are looking for innovative ways to engage consumers, so personal stories and customer journeys become critical components to understanding how energy usage affects consumers on a day-to-day basis.
UMC: And now for our staple question: In your opinion, what is the “next big thing” with regard to technology and the utility industry?
Lee: Personalized energy information (the “Utility of One”) is both exciting and achievable. Consumers want information about their specific energy usage (not just “typical” home’s energy usage), and guidance that is specific to their own lifestyles. Disaggregation is the foundation for this level of personalization.