New retail power provider enters New York market

Dive Brief:

  • A new retail energy service provider called Drift is preparing to enter the New York City market, using cutting-edge technology to reduce supply-chain costs and a flexible system to attract customers who want control of their energy.
  • Greentech Media has featured the startup, noting that it has raised more than $2 million in funding and has a team made up of energy experts and engineers from the largest tech companies.Drift is currently seeking suppliers for its energy. 
  • The company will bill customers weekly to eliminate interest and bank fees. Ultimately, Drift wants to sign up behind-the-meter customers to supply energy as well as wholesale producers, while eventually moving away from wholesale generators. 

Dive Insight:

In many ways, Drift acts like a traditional ESCO supplying retail power over utility-owned power lines. But the company is modernizing the business model by giving customers more flexibility and access to data, while reducing costs by focusing on a leaner system.

The company has no contracts, co-founder and CEO Greg Robinson told Greentech: "They should not exist. We show customers what’s going on all the time. If they want to sign up on a Tuesday and leave on a Wednesday, they could," he said.

That's certainly not the way ESCOs in New York have traditionally operated. The sector drew scrutiny from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who opened an investigation into their operations over concerns retail suppliers were overcharging customers. About 20% of New York's residential customers get their energy from an independent company. By some estimates retail marketers have charged customers about $800 million more than traditional utilities would have billed for energy.

New York City would appear to be the perfect launch pad for Drift, with its dense population and innovative energy policies. The state's Reforming the Energy Vision is working to transform the utility sector, bringing lower prices, cleaner energy and greater choice to customers by evolving the grid to act more as an open-access service platform.

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Filed Under: Distributed Energy