The smart grid is coming to town! The current devices to generate, transmit and distribute electrical power are vulnerable to failure. The need to revamp this outdated technology is apparent, especially in an age of renewable energy. Come listen to our panel of experts, which include key players as well as investors in this massive enterprise, discuss the integration of both large scale and micro-scale technology, innovative business models, and giant investments and returns.
This program will feature the following panelists:
Lee Burrows, VantagePoint Venture Partners
Drew Clark, IBM Venture Capital Group
Andy Colman, GRIDiant Corporation
Jon Previtali, AltaTerra Research
Moderated by: Kris Brown, PricewaterhouseCoopers
This program will be held from 8:00 am - 10:00 am at SAP Executive Briefing Center, Building 1, 3410 Hillview Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94304. Thanks to our friends at SDForum, readers of Green VC can receive a $5 discount from the non-member registration price for this event. To receive the discount, please use code "CLEAN05" when registering online. For more information:
The ecomagination Challenge seeks breakthrough ideas to create a smarter, cleaner, more efficient electric grid, and accelerate the adoption of more efficient grid technologies. Proposals are sought in three categories — Renewables, Grid and Eco Homes/Eco Buildings. This competition is open from now until September 30, 2010 to anyone aged 18 years or older and all legally formed entities. Entries may be submitted via the ecomagination Challenge website.
Selected entrants will be offered the opportunity to develop a commercial relationship with GE through:
Investment: The $200 million capital pledge of GE and its partners will be invested globally into promising start-ups and ideas
Validation: Evaluate entrant’s business strategy through in-depth discussions with GE’s technical and commercial teams
Distribution: Explore partnership opportunities with GE to scale a business and create global reach
Development: Leverage GE‘s technical infrastructure and GE Global Research Centers to accelerate technology and product development
Growth: Explore opportunities for utilizing existing GE customer to take Challenge products to market
In addition, five entrants will receive a $100,000 “innovation challenge award” acknowledging their entry as an example of outstanding entrepreneurship and innovation.
“Innovation is the engine of the global effort to transform the way we create, connect and use power,” said GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt. “At GE we have invested broadly and deeply in digital energy solutions and see this as a substantial market for us, but we can’t do it alone. We want to work with our partners to make sure we have a comprehensive digital energy offering. This challenge is about collaboration and we are inviting others to help accelerate progress in creating a cleaner, more efficient and economically viable grid. We want to jump-start new ideas and deploy them on a scale that will modernize the electrical grid around the world.”
GE CMO Beth Comstock said, “We took on a challenge when we launched ecomagination five years ago and we have learned about the power of partnerships to deliver clean energy solutions today. The challenge announced today is about collaboration and harnessing the promise of fledgling ideas and businesses to transform our energy future. We are confident in people’s willingness to change the way the world uses energy and in the ideas that will make this possible.”
“The Smart Grid is a new platform and a new market that is just beginning to be explored. Great ideas on how to do this can come from anywhere, so this competition is designed to tap the widest possible range of innovators, from big companies to entrepreneurs to students,” said Chris Anderson, who is serving as an advisor on the Challenge.
“Modernization of global electricity transmission and distribution systems have simply not kept pace with our society’s growing demand for clean and highly reliable power,” said Gina Domanig, Managing Partner of Emerald Technology Ventures. “Smart Grid innovation has been a significant area of investment focus for Emerald over the past decade and we are pleased to be a partner in the GE ecomagination Challenge.”
Foundation Capital General Partner Paul Koontz said, “Global power grids make up the largest networks in the world. In most cases, the technology on which they are based is essentially 100 years old. The opportunity to reinvent how energy is produced, distributed and consumed is extraordinarily large and is critical in the battle against climate change. We’re pleased to support GE’s initiative to engage the entrepreneurial community, and the powerful innovation engine it represents, in this effort.”
“Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is committed to a sustainable energy environment and are working to reduce the world’s dependency on fossil fuel-based energy through our growing portfolio of innovative Greentech companies,” said Ray Lane, Managing Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. We believe the Smart Grid is the information technology backbone that will enable faster scaling of energy innovations. Kleiner Perkins is proud to be a part of the GE ecomagination Challenge, and we are committed to working closely with GE and other investor partners to help commercialize the best Smart Grid innovations.”
RockPort Capital General Partner Chuck McDermott said, “The electric power grid is the central nervous system of the global economy. Though today’s grid is a 20th century engineering marvel, the smart grid of tomorrow promises to revolutionize how we manage our homes, offices and factories and to maximize the use of next-generation clean energy resources. Through this challenge, we will match the best ideas and best entrepreneurs with GE’s commitment to innovation, unparalleled technical knowledge and its deep penetration into the most vital areas of the world’s energy infrastructure. Working together we can transform yesterday’s grid into a 21st century marvel.”
A video of the formal announcement of the ecomagination Challenge follows below.
Trilliant was founded in 1985 and provides electric utilities with a smart grid communication network solution (illustrated below). The company currently has more than 200 utility customers, including Hydro One in Ontario, Canada, which has deployed more than one million smart meters deployed across 350,000 square miles.
"Our new investors represent some of the largest and most trusted companies in the utility industry," according to Andy White, president and CEO of Trilliant. "Their combined industry experience, financial strength, and global footprint will provide us with the resources to expand our Smart Grid solutions across North America and to a global marketplace. The strength and caliber of our partners will give current and future customers confidence that they have chosen a long-term market leader."
"Trilliant has demonstrated a proven track record of helping utilities successfully deploy large-scale Smart Grid solutions," according to Dr. Albert Kim, managing director at Investor Growth Capital. "It is clear that Trilliant’s combination of product differentiation and project implementation expertise provides utilities with the most functional, expandable and cost-effective path to a Smart Grid communications network. IGC has been tracking the Smart Grid arena for many years and we have grown increasingly excited recently about the tremendous opportunities. We could not be more enthusiastic to be leading such an influential syndicate of institutional and strategic investors."
“The global Smart Grid market represents a transformation of how utilities and consumers interact with energy supply and demand,” said Stephan Dolezalek, head of the CleanTech Practice at VantagePoint Venture Partners. “This transformation requires a combination of technological leadership, financial strength and significant corporate backing from global players. We believe that this financing and this team of participants clearly puts Trilliant at the forefront of this market and provides utilities with validated solutions and real-world expertise to realize the long-term benefits from a Smart Grid communications network.”
“Today’s utilities are looking for a unique combination of proven deployments, scalable, globally applicable solutions, and product leadership,” added Girish Nadkarni, Managing Director of ABB Technology Ventures. “We invest in companies that have technologies of strategic interest to us and as Trilliant addresses all three issues, it makes them a compelling choice. We look forward to lending our global expertise and presence to them.”
“GE and Trilliant are aligned around a common vision to modernize the power grid to support the energy needs of our 21st century society. Our companies have a shared commitment to bringing enhanced communications and information technology to our power grid. Through real-time knowledge and information sharing, a smarter grid will empower consumers to manage energy usage and costs, optimize the integration of cleaner energy sources, and drive increased energy efficiencies,” according to Luke Clemente, General Manager, Metering and Sensing for GE’s Digital Energy business. “Our investment in Trilliant strengthens our collaborative efforts to bring metering and consumer solutions to a wide variety of Smart Grid opportunities."
The company said that it will use the new funding to expand its sales and marketing efforts in key markets, enhance services to current customers, and continue investing in new products. eMeter currently provides a software platform and applications that enables electric, gas and water utilities to achieve large-scale smart grid deployments. The company states that it currently has more than 24 million meters under contract.
Gary Bloom, CEO of eMeter, said, “As a result of our maniacal focus on the customer, the eMeter platform is being used in the most successful Smart Grid deployments around the world. I’m pleased to welcome Northgate Capital to our growing list of investors at a time when more and more utilities and consumers are embracing Smart Grid technology. With this additional capital, and the continued support of both Sequoia and Foundation, we have further strengthened the company for continued growth and momentum working with and educating utilities and consumers worldwide about eMeter’s unique approach to enabling the Smart Grid.”
On June 30, an event entitled "What Role can Cleantech and Smart Grid Start-ups Play in Solving the Climate Change Crisis?" will take place in San Francisco. This event is part of the CPUC Thought Leaders Series. Speakers at this program will be:
Saul Griffith, Inventor, Entrepreneur, MacArthur Fellow, and Chief Scientist at Other Lab, has created a variety of companies. In the Clean Tech and Climate Change areas, companies he has created include Makani (high-altitude wind energy), Potenco (human-powered generation), WattzOn (online tool to quantify, track, compare and understand your energy use), and onya cycles (hybrid electric bikes).
Cree A. Edwards, Chairman of the Board and a Founder of eMeter Corporation. eMeter provides the essential software platform and applications that enable electric, gas, and water utilities to achieve large-scale Smart Grid deployments. Mr. Edwards co-founded CellNet Data Systems, Inc., an industry leader in providing advanced electricity metering data and communications to utilities. His many roles at Cellnet included Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board.
These speakers will discuss issues including:
The challenges encountered by cleantech and Smart Grid start-up companies in achieving commercial viability.
Should utilities and tech companies actively provide Venture Capital funding to Cleantech and Smart Grid start-ups?
What should utilities and tech companies do to facilitate commercial success by viable Cleantech and Smart Grid start-up companies?
What can government do to enable the commercial success of viable Cleantech and Smart Grid start-up companies?
This event is free of charge and will take place from 1:30 to 3 PM in the CPUC auditorium (505 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco). For additional information and registration visit http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/thoughtleaders. This event will also be webcast.
Chenyi Chiu, Strategic Engineering Manager, Panasonic R&D Company of America
Stephen G. Eichenlaub, Managing Director, Intel Capital
Carl Mansfield, Senior Manager of Energy Systems, Sharp Laboratories of America, Inc.
Tim Van Slambrouck, Vice President of Marketing and Sales, DENT Instruments
Jeff Hammarlund, Adjunct Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow, Portland State University (moderator)
This event is free of charge and will take place from 9:00 – 11:30 am at Northwest Natural, Hospitality Room, 4th floor, 220 NW 2nd Ave, Portland, OR 97209. For additional information and registration visit http://www.jetro.org/jcleantech/smartgrid
Earlier this week EcoFactor, a San Carlos, California-based company that provides personalized solutions for managing residential energy use, announced that it completed its $5.9 Million Series A round of venture financing. Specifically, the company announced that it obtained $3.5 million in financing led by RockPort Capital Partners. This investment follows $2.4 million in financing led by Claremont Creek Ventures in December 2009. Claremont Creek Ventures increased its investment in EcoFactor as part of the second closing.
The company, which was founded in 2006 and won the grand prize in the 2009 Cleantech Open, said that it will use its Series A funds to support the commercial deployments of its residential energy management service. EcoFactor's software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based solution works with a two-way communicating thermostat and a broadband Internet connection to develop a dynamic, customized heating and cooling strategy that, according to the company, can save homeowners an average of 20-30 percent on their HVAC energy expenditures. In addition to consumer savings, EcoFactor states that its solution offers cost-effective and self-validating energy efficiency, demand response and load forecasting to utilities and energy retailers.
"RockPort has been actively evaluating energy management and smart grid companies for more than five years, but we hadn't found a team which had solved the puzzle," said Abe Yokell, Principal at RockPort Capital Partners, a leading clean tech investor. "EcoFactor's solution delivers tremendous consumer value at low cost while providing opportunities for channel partners to tap into lucrative new income streams. We think EcoFactor will revolutionize residential and small commercial energy management."
"EcoFactor has always focused on saving homeowners hundreds of dollars a year, automatically, without sacrificing comfort, control or convenience. We've spent years developing personalized, active energy management that drives both consumer adoption and smart grid effectiveness," said John Steinberg, EcoFactor CEO. "The fact that we actually raised more than we were originally seeking, and were able to bring on clean tech leaders like RockPort and Claremont Creek, really validates that approach."
"Claremont Creek Ventures is absolutely confident in our support of EcoFactor. Having another leading clean tech VC firm like RockPort come to the same conclusion — that EcoFactor is well ahead of the rest when it comes to offering a complete energy efficiency solution for consumers — only further validates that decision," said Nat Goldhaber, Managing Director, Claremont Creek Ventures.
Earth2Tech will present Green:Net 2010 on April 29 in San Francisco. This event will focus on ways the computing and Internet technologies can contribute to efforts to address climate change. Speakers at this event will include:
Bill Weihl – Green Energy Czar, Google
Jason Few – CEO, Reliant Energy
Steve Jurvetson – Managing Director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson
Scott Lang – CEO, Silver Spring Networks
Laura Ipsen – SVP & GM Smart Grid, Cisco
Ed Lu – Program Manager in Advanced Projects, Google
Bill McKibben – Co-founder, 350.org
Molly Webb – Head of Strategic Engagement, The Climate Group
Jonathan Koomey – Project Scientist and Professor, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory & Stanford University
Andy Stanford Clark – IBM Distinguished Engineer and Master Inventor, Pervasive Messaging and Smarter Planet Technologies, IBM
Saul Griffith – Inventor and Macarthur Fellow
Casey Harrel – Analyst, Greenpeace
Paul Kedrosky – Senior Fellow, Kauffman Foundation
Troy Batterberry – Microsoft Hohm Product Unit Manager, Microsoft
Martin Vesper – Executive Director, Yello Strom
Clint Wheelock – Founder, Managing Director, Pike Research
Hugh McDermott – VP Global Utilities & Energy, Better Place
Gavin Starks – Founder and CEO, AMEE
Thanks to our friends at Earth2Tech, readers of Green VC can receive a 15% discount off the standard registration rate to Green:Net 2010 by registering via this link. For more information:
Chris King – Chief Strategy Officer, eMeter (moderator)
Jana Corey – Director Smart Metering, Pacific Gas and Electric
Rick Counihan - Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, EnerNOC
John O'Farrell – Executive Vice-President of Business Development, Silver Spring Networks
This event will take place from 6:00 – 8:30 pm at the University Club, 800 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA 94108. This event is open to the public and ticket pricing information is available on the event page.
For registration for this event, please select the "Register Now" link on the event page. Note that event registration requires having an account on the Stanford Alumni Association website — even if you are not affiliated with Stanford you can create a Guest account. Please contact stanfordcareergroup [at] gmail [dot] com with any problems.
This event will feature a keynote address on the smart grid from Ellen Pao, Partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Following the keynote presentation there will be a panel session and networking. This program will take place from 4:30 pm – 7:30 pm at the La Jolla Marriott. For more information: