How we obtain our electricity could be changing a lot in the near future. Right now, many of us sign up with an electric company and pay a monthly fee to use that energy. Now, solar energy has changed that by allowing us to generate our own electricity. A startup in Brooklyn is looking to add another wrinkle: selling that additional electricity to others.
LO3 Energy is the company behind the new process called the Brooklyn Microgrid. At the moment, extra solar energy can be used multiple ways. There’s the option of simply selling it back to the grid and getting money for it. Others can store that energy and use it during times that it’s more necessary. With this new system of selling that surplus to other people in the area, it’s essentially cutting out the electric company.
All this electricity is monitored by LO3 Energy’s product, a TransActive Grid meter. That moves all the solar energy generation around to others. While one consumer may not get the exact same energy that is picked up from another, they will still be paying that person directly for how much they take. Of course, one seller can’t make more than they give out, and that will all be handled by the meter.
The company explains that this is all done with a mobile app that can operate the meter. There’s little information right now on any details of that app and if there’s a way to do it on other platforms. LO3 Energy’s Director of Business Development, Scott Kessler, tells Jeremy Deaton of Nexus Media more about that process, saying, “through technology, if we all have the same information, we can transact with each other and simply update everyone’s own database.”
It’s a business model that’s likely inspired from companies like Uber and Airbnb. Have a car that spends a lot of time in the driveway, or an extra room that’s generally unused? Take advantage of it and get some money. The same applies to generating excess energy from the sun.
Naturally, this method is something that grid operators aren’t going to like. Having customers just work with each other cuts them out of making money, but LO3 Energy has took that under consideration. The grid meter can also be used by these companies. The Nexus Media report explains that during peak times, electricity is taken from more expensive sources. Using this meter, these operators can use this cheaper source that has excess energy instead of paying traditional power plants.
Ultimately, this process will keep people on the grid, and that’s a win for everybody. While some people dream of going off grid and just using their own energy, it’s much more efficient and cheaper to stay on it. People can sell that electricity to others to get back money on what was spent to install solar panels and, optionally, obtain a battery pack. Keeping things local will also make things cheaper. Some grid operators are located far distances away, especially in more rural areas.
For now, LO3 will test the service out in their home base of Brooklyn. Their goal is push out into other parts of the United States and then move internationally to places in Europe and even out west to Australia.