Griddy, which sells power to Texas retail customers at the real-time wholesale price plus a fixed monthly fee, is receiving an investment and ongoing services from EDF Trading, a subsidiary of global utility EDF Group.
“This partnership means we can bring the power of wholesale to far more people,” said Griddy CEO Greg Craig in a press release. With the new funding, Griddy plans to expand to New York’s grid and the PJM grid region ranging from Illinois to New Jersey, according to a Bloomberg News report. EDF Trading CEO John Rittenhouse went further, saying he looks forward to working with Griddy staff “as they build out their platform across North America.”
Griddy tells prospective customers that prices are lowest at times of higher renewable generation, so that the more a customer responds to price signals, “the more renewable energy you will use.” Griddy also provides hour-by-hour forecasts of what prices will be for the next 48 hours. (Both messages come in a recording for callers placed on hold.)
The benefits of enabling customers to purchase electricity at real-time rates include lower costs for customers, and lower system costs by reducing peak demand, according to a solar and storage industry petition to California regulators.
Beyond Griddy’s customers in Texas, thousands of non-residential customers in Georgia, Illinois, and New York also use real-time pricing.
While Griddy customers may adjust their electricity usage to times when wholesale prices are lower, they must now do so manually, for example by turning off the air conditioning when prices spike, or delaying the dishwasher.
Enabling customers to make these adjustments automatically, with a smart thermostat or other device, would be a potential next step. The California petition for real-time pricing notes that a utility in Oklahoma provides a free programmable communicating thermostat to customers who opt in to its summertime weekday peak pricing option.
Griddy estimates in its press release that its customers have saved millions of dollars to date, and presents an analysis showing that Texans paid a combined $20 billion to retail electricity providers in 2018, while if they had paid wholesale rates, they would have paid $14 billion—or $6 billion less.
In California, meanwhile, regulators have directed the industry petitioners to make their case—for giving all customers the option to choose real-time pricing—in individual utility rate cases, according to Brad Heavner, policy director for the California Solar & Storage Association.
Everyone in Texas has the “power to choose” their retail electricity provider, such as Griddy; electricity is delivered by a local electric transmission and distribution utility.
In addition to its equity investment, EDF Trading will provide “a broad range of services” and a wholesale supply facility. EDF Group, also known as Electricite de France, provides electricity to 40 million customers in France and around the world.