SSE-Backed Onzo Targets U.S. as Utilities Seek Energy-Use Data

Onzo Ltd., a U.K. company that gathers data on public energy consumption for utilities, plans to take its expertise across the Atlantic as the U.S. shifts smart-grid investment into software.

Onzo, backed by the British utility SSE Plc, has raised 1.5 million pounds ($2.5 million) and plans to add as much as 2 million more by year-end to expand in North America, Chief Executive Officer Joel Hagan said in an interview.

“Having some presence in North America on the ground is now required,” Hagan said in London, where Onzo is based.

Onzo retrieves data from smart meters installed in people’s homes to monitor energy consumption. It extracts information on usage patterns to enable utilities to better match demand and supply while helping consumers save power and cut their bills.

Smart-grid investment in the U.S. amounted to $3.6 billion last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That total, as much as 33 percent lower than a year earlier, reflects a shift in spending to software from hardware as utilities look to glean more value from the grid data available.

Most U.S. utilities have under-invested in generation plants and transmission networks, Hagan said. “They haven’t spent as much as Europe has on infrastructure and this means it’s cheaper for them to get you to use less energy than it is for them to spend money on their infrastructure.”

Onzo has raised money from investors including SSE, Sigma Capital Group Plc and Cipio Partners GmbH, according to the CEO. It plans to raise a further 1.5 million pounds to 2 million pounds from new investors, especially those who may provide potential clients or technology, he said.

The company, which is already working with some Californian utilities, expects its software to reach 2.5 million end-users worldwide in two years, Hagan said.

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