Welcome to The Lens, a monthly-ish recurring series where I unpack the strategy and context behind the news in as few words as possible. For past editions, check out Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3, Vol. 4, Vol. 5, Vol. 6, Vol. 7, and Vol. 8.
For Volume 9, let's talk about Arcadia's acquisition of Urjanet.
If you don't know Arcadia, they started as a community solar company for homeowners or renters. They sync with your utility to track your electricity usage, then they source, verify, purchase and retire renewable energy credits (RECs) for you. As a result, you're purchasing renewable electricity from a low- or zero-emissions resource, which reduces the emissions associated with your electricity use.
The REC piece is fun and all, but the 'sync with your utility' piece is what we're going to focus on today. In late 2021, Arcadia spun off that portion of their stack as a utility data platform called Arc—"aimed at entrepreneurs and developers who are building tools that can help consumers use energy smartly".
Urjanet is also a utility data platform. They built a screen scraping application that logs into your utility's website and grabs the data off of your monthly utility bill or your utility-owned interval meter, if available. Then they give that to anyone via an API.
Both Arc and Urjanet fill the gap created by utilities being horrible at allowing customers to use our own data. Before the acquisition, Arc covered 125 electric utilities. Urjanet covered 9,500 electric, gas, and water utilities.
Obviously the bigger picture here is that decarbonization is becoming a core business issue in commercial real estate. We've covered that a lot in the past, so let's talk about 'Why?' from a product perspective...