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Providence Startup Raises $25 Million for Energy Efficiency

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Providence-based startup Utilidata has raised over $25 million in venture capital in just over a year in operation, company Chief Technology Officer Sridhar Ramachandran announced at this month’s Providence Geeks meeting in Providence.

Braemar Energy (Boston), American Electric Power, and National Grid (Rhode Island/New England) are the American energy companies buying into Utilidata’s technology right now, but the company is also going global with markets in Saudi Arabia, Russia, South Korea, and (soon) China.

Utilidata’s biggest partner is Saudi Aramco, the largest oil and natural gas company in the world.


The Technology

Utilidata aims to drive energy efficiency through info tech.  The company developed the AdaptiVolt Volt/VAR Optimization solution to address problems energy companies and consumers face with inefficient distribution grids.

AdaptiVolt is a software-based VVO that energy companies install in the distribution grid, and the program uses Digital Signal Processing techniques to realize optimal voltage on the grid.

AdaptiVolt is a real-time system that doesn’t rely on grid load models.  The system collects data from the grid every 15 seconds and adjusts the voltage of the grid to fit consumer demands more efficiently and cost-effectively.

Electronic efficiency initiatives like compact fluorescent light bulbs are a hassle for consumers to meet, and renewable energy forms like solar and wind power need to be backed up by finite energy sources for cloudy and/or windless days.  AdaptiVolt does not rely on user behavior to ensure efficiency, and the system allows the supplier to drive energy efficiency without relying on the user for help.

The result is a system where both user and supplier save money and more efficient energy is distributed across massive energy grids.

Utilidata CTO Sridhar Ramachandran


The Office

Based in Providence, the Utilidata office on Chapman Street features a revolutionary “Grid Simulation Lab” that allows them to test their software in a simulated setting. 

Researchers at URI have asked for permission to use the Lab, and Utilidata has hired interns from Brown and Northeastern, meaning local Universities and their students are getting firsthand access to a global tech company operated locally.

Utilidata currently employs about 45 people, but the small company is growing rapidly.  Utilidata was first brought to Rhode Island by CEO Scott DePasquale, who noticed the previous incarnation in Washington State and decided to relocate the business to his home state.

“He’s got a soft spot for Rhode Island,” Ramachandran said, drawing laughter and applause from the crowd of about 75 self-professed geeks.


The Future

Ramachandran told GoLocalProv that the AdaptiVolt system is already being utilized by AEP, and attributed the company’s rapid growth to building a superior product.

“VVO as an energy efficiency solution is well understood,” he said.  “And we have the best VVO solution.”

Ramachandran said Utilidata has already secured 8 patents for their technology and the company is working on securing approximately 20 more.

The Providence Geeks mingle before Utilidata's presentation


The Presentation

Ramachandran gave the Utilidata presentation at the Providence Geeks’ monthly meeting Wednesday night.

Providence Geeks co-founder Jack Templin called Utilidata “The best kept secret” in Rhode Island startups.  Providence Geeks has held a monthly meeting and hosted a Providence startup presentation every month for 8 years.

“I think everyone in this room tonight believes a business can succeed in Rhode Island,” Templin told GoLocalProv.

For more information on Providence Geeks, check out their website at ProvidenceGeeks.com.

For more info on Utilidata, their website is utilidata.com.


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