Smart Wires Launches as Leader in Optimizing Electric Grids Worldwide; Names Industry Veteran Tom Voss as Chairman of the Board

Oakland, Ca., Jan. 26, 2015 – Smart Wire GridTM, the leader in distributed power flow control for the electric grid is dropping the word “Grid” from its name to better align the brand with its mission. As Smart Wires, the company looks forward to pursuing a host of opportunities worldwide to address the challenges of the modern electric utility.

“We feel the name Smart Wires quickly conveys what we do and how our company is leveraging breakthrough technology to address congestion and enhance the performance of our aging electric networks,” said Jim Davis, CEO of Smart Wires. “Our solution changes the way utilities think about power and produces billions of dollars in value for their customers.”

Smart Wires is also proud to announce Tom Voss, former CEO of Ameren and utility industry veteran, as the new chairman of the board. Voss spent the entirety of his distinguished career at Ameren – the leading regional utility company. He joined the company as a student engineer in 1969 – rising through the ranks before culminating his tenure, in 2014, as CEO and President. Voss was instrumental in turning around Ameren’s safety record and establishing one of the safest utilities in the nation. A widely respected leader, Voss is known for his unwavering devotion to his employees and his customers, and made it the goal of his life’s work to provide a safe and reliable electric service.

“There is nothing more satisfying than delivering a quality service to my customers,” states Voss, Smart Wires’ new chairman of the board. “We are quite literally in the business of powering lives. I only wish that I had access to this technology earlier in my career. Smart Wires will empower utilities with a new tool to improve the way they run their businesses.”

Smart Wires’ PowerLine GuardianTM devices mount directly on transmission lines and allow their operator to reroute the flow of power. Utilities leverage these dynamically controlled “Smart Wires,” distributed across the network, to mitigate congestion, support reliability, manage changing generation profiles, and otherwise enhance the performance of the grid. Congestion occurs when capacity bottlenecks on the electric grid prevent low cost power from serving load centers, resulting in billions of dollars of added costs to electric ratepayers. This congestion problem is also a leading contributor to rising greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector.

Utilities around the world are already implementing Smart Wires’ technology to optimize their networks. In New York State, regulatory officials and utility leaders are exploring opportunities to use the PowerLine Guardian to support the goals of the State’s “Reforming the Energy Vision” (REV), which aims to provide a clean, efficient, and cost-effective electricity service. Just last month, Smart Wires completed an expansion of Southern Company’s PowerLine Guardian fleet, and is scheduling its first European installation with EirGrid in January.

About Smart Wires

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, with offices in the United States and in the United Kingdom, Smart Wires is the leader in grid optimization solutions that leverage its patented distributed power flow control technology. Driven by a world-class leadership team with extensive experience delivering innovative solutions, Smart Wires works with utilities globally to address the unique challenges of the rapidly evolving electric system. Smart Wires technology was developed by utilities for utilities, led by a consortium of large US utilities at the National Electric Energy Testing Research and Applications Center (NEETRAC). This core group of utilities, which included Southern Company and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), defined the vision for the original device. Today, the technology is rapidly becoming part of the utility tool kit as more and more electric utilities explore new ways to alleviate congestion, improve network utilization, manage changing generation profiles, and maintain reliable electric service.

Download press release.

WEATHER CHANNEL: U.S. Electric Grid Crisis Segment on AMHQ

2014-11-13 10 29 39“If a phone can be smart, why can’t the electric grid?” quotes Maria LaRosa, the host of the Weather Channel’s AMHQ program.

Today, Smart Wire Grid’s CEO Jim Davis joined LaRosa on her program to talk about the weather related challenges and the congestion that the US grid is facing.

Davis says, “The largest manmade machine in the world is the US power grid.  It has served us extremely well for the past hundred years. But, it is now aging. It is getting old. If Alexander Graham Bell came back from the dead, his mind would be blown away from the smart phone. But, if Thomas Edison came back, nothing has changed.”

On this interview, Davis noted the significant losses that the economy is facing with an aging electric grid and the need for advanced technologies like Smart Wire Grid’s.

PRESS RELEASE: Energy Industry Veteran Jim Davis Joins Smart Wire Grid As CEO

Will Lead Company’s Efforts to Create Smart Transmission Network Across World’s Power Grid

Oakland, Calif. (October 8, 2014) — Smart Wire Grid (SWG), the leader in distributed power flow control for the electric grid, has selected industry veteran Jim Davis as the company’s Chief Executive Officer. As CEO of the San Francisco Bay Area company, Davis will lead all aspects of the company’s strategic direction.

“Jim understands the full scope of the power industry and has seen it from all sides,” said Tony Arnerich, SWG’s founding board member and lead investor. “As 50 to 60 year old transmission grids across the nation face the effects of Climate Change and new weather realities, the rapid changes to traditional generation sources and the challenges of integrating renewable energy, the need has never been greater for our next generation of power flow controls. Jim is the perfect person to oversee SWG’s mission to modernize the nation’s electric grid.”

A 28-year energy industry expert, Davis was most recently the President of Chevron Energy Solutions which he founded in 2000 and built into a leading energy efficiency and renewable energy services company. In 2004, Davis was awarded the prestigious Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in recognition of his strength of leadership, innovation and social responsibility.

Smart Wire Grid provides innovative solutions to electric utilities around the world. With groundbreaking power flow technology, SWG allows utilities to optimize their grids and meet the challenges of the modern electric industry.

“From powering oil drills in West Texas, hybrid cars in California, to the new iPhone 6 Plus in New York, it’s all about electricity,” said Jim Davis, SWG CEO. “If a phone can be ‘smart’ so should the world’s electric grid that powers it.”

The need for SWG’s breakthrough technology could not be greater. America is facing a power congestion crisis, costing ratepayers billions of dollars in higher energy rates. Power congestion occurs when demand for power outstrips capacity on the electric grid—creating bottlenecks and preventing lower cost, “clean” power from getting where it is needed. That congestion problem is also a leading cause of greenhouse emissions which is harmful to the environment and a leading concern associated with Climate Change.

Smart Wire Grid is working with the State of New York to explore ways that their patented Powerline Guardian™ technology can help support the State’s Strategic Energy Vision, “REV,” in creating a reliable, next generation power grid that will help relieve the congestion that helps contribute to high electricity rates.

About Smart Wire Grid

Smart Wire Grid’s first-of-a kind distributed series reactor, the PowerLine Guardian™, converts an existing transmission line into a controllable and observable Smart Wire. The breakthrough technology allows power to be shifted from overloaded lines to underutilized lines, reducing congestion and ensuring reliability of the power grid. The result is a grid that is lower cost, more resilient, and capable of accepting a much higher penetration of renewable energy. SWG serves national and international customers in the transmission and distribution industry, including network operators, vertically integrated utilities, and transmission owners. For more information please visit www.smartwiregrid.com .

Media Contact:

Kerrie Levick
Creaxion ® for Smart Wire Grid
Kerrie@Creaxion.com
404.495.4431

ARPA-E: Turning Innovative Ideas into Infrastructure that Powers the Nation

by Colin Wood, Government Technology

The primary limitation of today’s energy grid is that it was conceived and developed in an era that had not envisioned a future powered by the sun, the wind and data. ARPA-E projects aim to fix that.

The energy grid is old, and that’s why a new federal agency is pushing high-risk, high-reward research in an effort to turn innovative ideas into infrastructure that powers the nation.

Known as the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, the agency within the U.S. Department of Energy follows the model of the better-known defense research agency, DARPA. In 2007, President George W. Bush codified the agency’s creation, and in 2009, President Barack Obama allocated funding that made its operation today possible. Over the past several years, the agency has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into dozens of research projects focusing on three key areas of energy grid technology: software, hardware and energy storage.

One of the most outstanding limitations of today’s energy grid is that it was conceived and developed in an era that had not envisioned a future powered by the sun, the wind and data. In an ARPA-E promotional video, Michael Aziz, Harvard Professor of Materials and Energy Technologies, explains the value of new types of energy storage: “The biggest obstacle to us getting a large fraction of our electricity from wind and sunshine is their intermittence. So if we could mass produce a battery that safely and cost-effectively stores massive amounts of electrical energy, we could solve this problem.”

PUTTING ARPA-E FUNDS TO WORK

ARPA-E awarded researchers at Harvard University $4.3 million to further their research on flow batteries, a type of storage device that could hold up to 10 times more energy by volume than traditional storage devices. Today’s electric grid needs such batteries if it’s to support wind and solar power, which can sometimes go days without supplying power. Today, solar power accounts for about one-tenth of a percent of the electricity produced in the country, said Harvard Professor Roy Gordon. Parts of California and Hawaii are able to flood the grid with solar power, Gordon noted, but overall the amount of energy storage available is still inadequate.

For new software platforms that power the grid, ARPA-E is funding big data projects. The agency awarded AutoGrid — whose technology analyzes the data generated by smart meters, building management systems, voltage regulators, thermostats and other equipment — $3.4 million, and the technology is now being deployed around the nation, in such places as Oklahoma, California, Texas and the Pacific Northwest. The electricity industry is one of the last industries to take advantage of the big data wave, and there’s a lot of potential in doing so, said Sandra Kwak, director of marketing for AutoGrid.

“I would say we’ve barely scratched the surface of the total amount of value that can be recouped from smart grid services,” Kwak said. “If you look at the smart grid in terms of layers, the first layer was smart meters, the second layer was collection of data from those meters, so data management, but now that we’ve collected the data, what do you do with the data? The layer on top of that — that hasn’t rolled out to the mainstream yet — is the analytics layer that actually tells you what to do with that data.”

AutoGrid fills that gap, she explained. “Ultimately, what these big data processing engines will do is allow utilities to utilize their existing infrastructure instead of building new power plants,” she said, noting that in the past, utilities had maybe 12 points of data per year – one power meter reading per month – but SmartGrid allows utilities to make decisions based on 3,000 points of data.

“With real-time information, AutoGrid is bringing their applications to market to assist utilities in fully utilizing their assets they have on the grid,” she said. “We actually have the ability to balance supply and demand of power in real time, and we have a complete inventory of every single asset that’s on the grid. […] We can send out text messages, app identifications, phone calls to end users of electricity, and also utilize existing communication channels and protocols and existing hardware in the field. We can send out network communications and ask thermostats to turn down by a couple of degrees, or shift power in between rooftop units. One of the programs that we’re running in Austin Energy involves electric vehicle owners so we can send that price signal to EV owners and tell them it’s a good time or a bad time to charge their car.”

CONTROLLING THE FLOW OF POWER

ARPA-E is also driving research in hardware to provide data and controls for platforms like the ones offered by AutoGrid. Smart Wire Grid was awarded just under $4 million by ARPA-E to continue development of a wireless device that clamps onto power lines to control electricity flow.

Their device is the only one of its kind being used today, said Anuj Kapadia, senior engineer at Smart Wire Grid. The devices are now being used by the utilities of Southern Company, headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., and Tennessee Valley Authority, which serves most of Tennessee, and parts of Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky.

“The technology is a power flow controller, so it controls power. In layman’s terms, you can compare that to a tap on a pipeline. You open the tap, it flows, when you close the tap, you can block the power,” Kapadia explained. “If you look at the power grid now, it’s meshed, so power flows from one point to another, but there’s no way to control it. And now because of all this complexity coming to the grid, a device like ours is very, very useful to actually control and make the grid flexible.”

The clamp-on device can be controlled by the utility wirelessly, using a protocol of the company’s choice, as the device is equipped with three different antennas. Having wireless connectivity is obviously useful, but it also presents a security risk, Kapadia said, which is why they’ve spent a lot of time making the system secure.

Having the ability to control the flow of power is immensely useful, and will continue to become more useful as the grid evolves, Kapadia said. “All these renewables are coming in; we have solar, we have wind, we have electric vehicles coming in, so there is a lot of different generations coming in from all different directions, so we need a flexible grid,” he said. “It is not like before where the power flows from line A to line B and that’s about it. It’s going to be vastly used. It’s just a matter of time.”

 Original article.

Fast Company: How The DARPA Of The Energy World Wants To Change The Electricity Grid

With three-year, $3 million grants, ARPA-E takes a portfolio approach in several different program areas that bring together companies, researchers, and other government agencies from diverse fields. For example, it is funding researchers at Boston University and Georgia Tech who are developing new algorithms that will calculate more quickly and precisely how to route electricity around the grid and how to respond in a split second when there are signs of a failure. And Smart Wire Grid is a company that is developing magnets that clip on to electrical wires and could help operators actually control the flow of electrons through the system–something they can’t do today, which is one reason why outages tend to spread. Other researchers are working on the long-term problem of reducing the costs of batteries that store energy by finding lower cost materials to use and reducing the amount of material needed.

Full article.

Science Friday: How New Rules and Smart Tech Are Reinventing the Grid

Smart Wire Grid was mentioned in the July 4th edition of the Science Friday podcast.

When Superstorm Sandy hit, neighborhoods all over New York City and Long Island lost power. In an effort to avoid lengthy blackouts in future storms, there was a lot of talk of a more distributed smart grid—a more resilient system. But how far have we come? Energy experts Kate Burson and Cheryl Martin discuss reinventing the grid through technological and regulatory fixes.

Cheryl Martin (CM), Acting Director of ARPA-E, spoke with Ira Flatow (IF), the host of Science Friday, about new innovations for the grid. She described Smart Wire Grid’s technology at 3:18 into the clip.

IF: What is this new routing technology that I hear about called the Smart Wire Grid?

CM: Well, Smart Wire Grid is actually one of the technologies we funded. The whole idea of the grid, unlike the internet routers we take for granted, the electricity grid does not work that way. The question is can we use hardware and software to route the electrical grid? Again, another way to give resiliency and backup, so this company essentially clamps magnets on your high-voltage wires and it makes the wires feel like its congested and makes the electrons go elsewhere. And so, it’s a pretty clever, simple way to think about a hardware source to route electrons around an outage potentially.

Listen here.

EW Smart Energy: Smart Wire Solution for the Energy Markets of the Future

This article (German) appears on page 28-30 on the May 2014 edition of EW Smart Energy.

Sicherer Netzbetrieb mit Energie-Controller
Smart-Wire-Lösung für die Energiemärkte der Zukunft

Mit der Umsetzung der Energiewende stehen Netzbetreiber vor einer Herkulesaufgabe. Dezentrale Erzeu-gerstrukturen und ökostromeinspeisung verursachen stark schwankende Leistungsflüsse in den Netzen. Wie kann diese Dynamik kompensiert werden? Weiche Lösungen für stabile Netzbetriebe gibt es? Ein Unternehmen aus Kalifornien hat mit Energie-Controller eine serienreife Systemlösung entwickelt, die Hochspannungsleitungen irr smarte> sich selbstregelnde Stromnetze wandelt.

Secure network operation with power controller
Smart-wire solution for the energy markets of the future

With the implementation of the energy transition, network operators face a Herculean task. Distributed generation and green electricity feeds cause fluctuating power flows in the networks. How can this dynamic be mitigated? Are there software solutions for stable network operations? A company from California has developed a commercially ready power system solution that converts high-voltage lines into smart, self-regulating networks.