US start-up AutoGrid raises US$9m to progress its smart-grid technology

30 Oct 2012

AutoGrid, a Palo Alto, California, start-up founded in 2011, has raised US$9m in Series B funding to pioneer its big data analytics platform for energy, with the aim of allowing utilities to manage real-time demand across the electrical grid.

AutoGrid raised the funding from Foundation Capital, Voyager Capital and Stanford University. The start-up has also signed contracts worth more than US$5m with the U.S. Department of Energy’s ARPA-E research agency and the California Energy Commission.

AutoGrid is pioneering an Energy Data Platform (EDP) to mine data from smart meters and other networked data connected to the grid. Via this platform, the start-up claims that utilities will be able to forecast how much power they need, be it weeks or minutes and seconds ahead of time.

According to AutoGrid, its EDP is a physics-based model of the grid that takes into account the behaviours of assets connected to it – ie, buildings, industrial sites, electrical meters, electric vehicle charge points, apartment complexes and transmission lines.

AutoGrid said it can run scenarios based on accumulated data or anticipated behaviour, so utilities can then take action and remove inefficiencies from the electricity supply chain.

The company has also developed a software-as-a-service demand response optimisation and management platform called DROMS. This platform is already being used in demand response programmes by the City of Palo Alto Utilities and Sacramento Municipal Utilities District in California.

“AutoGrid transforms data into actionable intelligence for both utilities and their customers. As an initial application, the technology will dramatically help expand how demand response programmes are used by utilities and retail electricity providers in the nation and around the world,” said Steve Vassallo, a partner at Foundation Capital, in a statement.

The company’s founder and CEO is Dr Amit Narayan, who was formerly director of smart grid research in modelling and simulation at Stanford University between 2010 and 2012. AutoGrid’s chief technology officer is Chris Knudsen, who was over smart grid standards development at Pacific Gas & Electric until last year.

Electrical grid image via Shutterstock

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic