NRG bundles solar and water control system for California

NRG Home Solar – a wholly owned subsidiary of power company NRG Energy – has launched a new solar/water bundle designed to help California residents better manage their resources more efficiently.

As the worst drought in California’s history continues to ravage many parts of the state, water preservation has become more important than ever. NRG Home Solar’s new offering bundles its solar home system, complete with modules and inverter, with the Rachio Iro water controller, developed by Rachio to help homeowners better monitor their water irrigation flow.

The water controller has been certified by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WaterSense program, making it eligible for rebates in many districts of the state. The bundle will be rolled out in Fresno and San Diego initially, before expanding across California soon.

Powered by the NRG Home Solar system, the Rachio solution connects to a residence’s WiFi network or homeowner’s smartphone and allows users to monitor how much water is being used for irrigation. Users intent on cutting down and consuming water more efficiently have reported a 30% reduction in water usage.

NRG Home Solar will also offer turf replacement rebates as an additional incentive to cut their water consumption, replacing thirsty lawns with drought-resistant plants. The company also revealed that it is working on further conservation options, including low-flow fixtures, water barrels and leak monitoring technology.

"We’re committed to giving consumers energy-related products that help them be mindful and deliberate about resource management in a way that suits their needs and lifestyles," said NRG Home CEO and president Steve McBee. "This is an opportunity for us to stand by our customers and get them the products they need when they need them."

Chris Klein, CEO and founder of Rachio, called the collaboration a "no-brainer", stating: "Our smart technology is a perfect fit for NRG Home’s vision of giving consumers innovative sustainable offerings. That’s especially true when you consider that up to half of California homes have irrigation systems, which use more water on average than any other residential end use."

Kelcy Pelger, Jr, NRG Home Solar president, added that solar and water conservation is exactly the type of statement Californians want to be making right now. "Empowering water conservation – particularly in California – is the right thing to do and a natural complement to helping these customers build on their environmental commitment."

Solar’s penetration in California is higher than in any other state, reaching 5% recently and generating 9.9 million MWh of electricity in 2014. As hydropower in the state has been hit by dwindling reservoir levels – dropping 46% last year – solar’s timing could not be better.

"The annual increase in California’s solar generation in 2014 offset 83% of the decrease in hydroelectric generation," said a report by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in March.