Entrepreneurship is Helping to Establish a Smarter Grid in the USA

I recently attended a session on the Smart Grid at the Net Impact Sustainability Forum at UNC Kenan-Flagler.  The forum consisted of representatives from multiple great companies, including Elster Solutions, O-Power, IBM and ENERNOC.  A few salient points emerged from the session.

One student asked about the greatest challenges facing each company.  O-Power mentioned that its greatest challenge is recruiting and maintaining talent.  Given O-Power’s recent $50 million infusion, this makes perfect sense.  It is also a good problem for those looking for jobs in energy efficiency.   It was exciting to see another example of a young entrepreneurial company driving such rapid growth in the green economy.

Elster Solutions responded to the question differently, mentioning the issue over a lack of standards.  In the energy efficiency space, companies have different standards and they don’t match up.  This slows the entire industry down.  Consolidation of standards is needed so that everyone can scale the smart grid more accurately.  One of the companies added, “We are in the first inning of smart grid in a nine inning game, which could perhaps go into extra innings.” 

All in all, smart grid continues to be an attractive place for entrepreneurs interested in making the world a cleaner place while creating jobs at the same time.  We hope to see more high growth companies enter the fray in the near future so that we can build a grid which can integrate renewable sources of energy and manage our energy use more effectively.

-- Joel Thomas