Utility fund backs big data company AutoGrid in VC round

Dive Brief:

AutoGrid Systems has raised $20 million in venture capital financing from Energy Impact Partners, a utility group that includes Southern Company, Xcel Energy, Oncor and National Grid, and Envision Ventures.

The new funding will go toward expanding the “Energy Internet” suite of applications built on AutoGrid’s underlying software, as well as to expand sales and marketing in North America, Europe and Asia.

The Silicon Valley-based fund was created last year by Chinese wind turbine maker and renewable energy developer Envision Energy, which also joined the new financing round, Greentech Media reports. The new round brings AutoGrid’s total funding to date to just over $40 million.

Dive Insight:

Many of the most innovative applications being deployed in the utility sector, from energy storage and microgrids to demand response programs and community aggregation, require data.

AutoGrid’s big-data software platform and applications are being used to optimize demand response programs for U.S. utilities, and enable virtual power plants in Europe.

“This investment will help accelerate our mission of creating software that can leverage data to power our future energy needs, eliminating our dependence on unsustainable fossil-fuels,” Amit Narayan, founder and CEO of AutoGrid, said in a statement.

AutoGrid doesn’t build the hardware or networking infrastructure to connect individual energy assets. The company is focused on taking the data from disparate devices and systems and making sense of it.

The Redwood City, Calif.-based startup’s first application, its Demand Response Optimization and Management System, has been deployed by numerous U.S. utilities including Palo Alto’s municipal utility, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative and Florida Power & Light, to name a few.

Narayan told Greentech Media that AutoGrid also is looking beyond the utility and grid operator realms and is working with project developers that deploying solar, storage, demand response and energy services. “These have been traditionally siloed services in the past, and they’re looking to become more integrated,” he said.

“Big data analytics and automated control of grid operations will allow utilities to adapt to the increasingly complex distributed energy environment,” said Michael Donnelly, an Energy Impact partner, who also is joining AutoGrid’s board of directors.

Previous investors in AutoGrid also joined the recent investment round, including German utility E.ON, which led a $12.5 million investment in 2014, as well as Foundation Capital and Voyager Capital, which participated in a $9 million capital raising round in 2012.

Link to article.