Smart-grid outfit GridPoint raising money, running tests

Company is trying to raise more than $32 million in a fourth round of funding as it tests its smart-grid appliance with utility companies.

GridPoint, which makes a distributed power generation appliance, is in the process of raising more than $32 million in a fourth round of funding.

An SEC document filed earlier this week disclosed the $32 million tranche that will be part of a larger investment to be announced in a few weeks, according to a company representative. The investors in this portion of the round include Goldman Sachs, Altira Group and Standard Renewable Energy Group, according to PEHub which first uncovered the filing.

GridPoint, which I wrote about one year ago, makes home storage appliances tied to renewable energy systems, such as a solar electric array.

To get its SmartGrid Platform into people's homes, the company is focusing on utility companies, rather than selling directly to consumers.

It now has pilot tests going on with undisclosed utilities, the representative said. IBM, too, has shown interest in working with GridPoint, as part of its own clean tech efforts .

The idea is that utilities will install and manage these units as a way to smooth out the load on their electricity grids.

During a time of high demand, such as hot summer day, the power company would be able to avoid firing up an auxiliary generation facility by drawing power from many individual solar arrays.

Technologies that manage the load on the grid may not be glamorous, but they appear to be lucrative. Two young companies that focus on energy efficiency--EnerNoc and Comverge--have successfully gone public.

GridPoint has gotten accolades for its technology, which is supposed to be make it easy for consumers and grid operators to view electricity consumption patterns. Frost & Sullivan next week will give GridPoint a "green excellence in technology" award, and GridPoint was the "overall winner" of private companies at the GoingGreen 2007 conference this week.

What remains to be seen is whether utilities or consumers are willing to foot the bill and install its smart-grid products.

 

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