Andrew Greenfield checks his home’s solar power output against consumption through his computer and mobile phone dozens of times each day. The IBM (IBM) storage engineer enjoys trying to match the power he consumes to heat his pool in Arizona with what he produces during the day from the panels on his roof.
The same rooftop solar providers that are threatening utility revenues are more than just occupying customer roofs—they’re inside the home, monitoring usage trends and adapting the systems to meet both the homeowner’s needs and their own bottom lines.
SolarCity, Sunrun, SunPower (SPWR), and Locus Energy are amassing billions of points of data in smart home systems that consumers love and that baffle utilities, many of which have no incentive to help consumers manage their power usage more efficiently.
“We have an algorithm that tracks the clouds designed by a Ph.D. from Stanford,” says Adrian De Luca, vice president in charge of sales at Hoboken (N.J.)-based Locus Energy, which monitors more than 25,000 solar systems in the U.S. and Canada. “We can tell from across the country whether performance isn’t up to specifications for whatever reasons,” De Luca says. “The utilities should want this data.”