New York selects startups affiliated with NYU incubator to demonstrate projects to cut home energy costs, help grid

As part of New York’s energy transformation initiative Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering (NYU) today announced that two companies affiliated with its incubators will participate in REV demonstration projects: Smarter Grid Solutions and Sealed Inc.

Both companies are affiliated with the New York City Accelerator for a Clean and Resiliency Economy (NYC ACRE) located within the Urban Future Lab — New York City’s premier facilities for the cleantech and energy community, supporting company formation and showcasing innovation — in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corp. (NYC EDC) and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

Reviewed by the New York State Public Service Commission, projects by Smarter Grid Solutions and Sealed will show how technologies and new business models can capitalize on various value streams and how the benefits can be distributed among the utility, third parties and customers.

Through its Flexible Interconnect project, Smarter Grid Solutions’ Active Network Management (ANM) — a technology that increases the volume of energy being delivered by renewable and distributed energy resources (DER) through the existing grid — is being used in coordination with Iberdrola USA to integrate DER and enable faster and cheaper connections. Sealed’s demonstration project will work with National Grid in Clifton Park to offer no- and low-cost efficiency retrofits that are paid back through a “Sealed” bill, giving homeowners a lower bill than they would have paid through their utility.

“The companies we are incubating at NYC ACRE will be an important part of the new energy economy that is being built in the State of New York,” said Pat Sapinsley, managing director of cleantech initiatives at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering. “We are delighted that two of our companies, Sealed and Smarter Grid Solutions, have been chosen for the REV demonstration projects. For many decades now, innovation in the utility sector has been stunted by the monopolistic nature of our rate-based system. The REV initiative will enable deployment of innovative, more efficient, resilient and clean energy businesses. We hope that many of these will be home grown at NYC ACRE and will thereby contribute not only to a cleaner energy future, but to the growth of the economy of New York.”

David Gilford, director of urban innovation and sustainability at the NYC EDC, said he is proud that the Urban Future Lab is helping cleantech startups in New York.

"Smarter Grid Solutions and Sealed Inc. are two of the most innovative companies in the field today working to create smarter, more sustainable and resilient cities,” Gilford said. “We wish them the very best of luck in this endeavor."

Sealed Inc. founder and president Andy Frank said he’s excited to partner with National Grid on the REV demo process.

“Sealed’s business is very simple,” Frand said. “We take 100 percent of the energy savings risk and only make money when our customers save more energy than we guarantee. Sealed helps single-family homeowners find the best improvements that maximize energy savings, comfort and resiliency. The end result for our customers is a simple, more predictable energy bill that tracks the guaranteed savings each month.”

Sealed makes a pledge that guarantees savings to consumers from home energy-efficiency improvements. Sealed’s energy advisors work with homeowners to create a customized plan and perform necessary energy-efficiency improvements. It then compares historical home energy performance from thousands of similar homes to determine the amount of savings to guarantee. Sealed calculates a baseline energy bill, showing consumers what they would have paid had the efficiency improvements not been made. The baseline energy bill is based on past energy usage and home characteristics and is adjusted for current weather and energy prices. Sealed subtracts the guaranteed efficiency savings on a percentage basis from the baseline bill, leading to the final “Sealed” energy bill. Its demonstration project in Clifton Park will pave the way for a “Pay as You Save” billing model throughout the state, making it easy and affordable for people to improve their homes and lower their energy bills.

“We are delighted to be contributing to the work of REV and the objectives of Iberdrola USA,” said Emily Wheeler, vice president of operations of Smarter Grid Solutions. “Active Network Management is a transformational technology and is used to autonomously and actively manage DER, such as solar, wind and battery storage. Our customers are benefiting from ANM, which is transforming the utilization and resiliency of the grid and managing connected customers at greatly reduced cost.”

As the pioneers of ANM technology, Smarter Grid Solutions has demonstrated its use during the past five years in the U.K., helping to add some 150 MW of renewable energy to distribution systems that previously were considered full and closed to new connections without significant infrastructure upgrades. By the end of 2015, Smarter Grid Solutions expects to increase this number to at least 250 MW of new wind and solar connections to the electricity system.

According to the company, its approach repeatedly has demonstrated it is possible to increase the capacity of the existing distribution system by 100 to 200 percent. In the Flexible Interconnect project, it will explore how this plays out in New York.

Iberdrola USA and National Grid were among hundreds of utilities across the state required to file demonstration projects by July 1. The companies will participate in the inaugural REV Summit, which will be Sept. 24 in New York City.

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