Today in Cleantech

OPower, the startup that’s built its business on getting homeowners to shave energy usage without lots of high-tech sensors and controls in the home, is now considering adding an automation device to its portfolio of utility services. That’s according to Ogi Karazovic, OPower’s senior director of marketing, who talked to me at the DistribuTECH smart grid conference in San Diego last week (consider this the first of several D-TECH updates to come). There’s no timeline on when such a device might appear, or even any guarantee that it will happen, Karazovic stressed. Still, it’s an interesting admission for a company that’s grown its customer base to some 40 utilities and about 8 million households — and raised $50 million in recent VC funding — by bucking some key trends in the home energy management space, such as the idea that customers want devices to help them save energy. It turns out that no matter how well OPower can motivate people to save energy, there’s no way it can give them the willpower to do things like turn off the lights when they’re not at home. Some kind of technology will be needed to automate control, as many players in the home energy space are doing — including Control4, which has recently raised $15 million of a planned $25 million funding round.