The USA’s first consumer energy transaction begins ‘power to the people’ revolution in New York
- TransActiveGrid, a radical new peer-to-peer energy transaction platform, goes live in New York with first paid transaction
- Consumer energy trade made possible by using secure ‘Ethereum Blockchain’ software with payments via PayPal
- Historic transaction sees Change to Win’s Eric Frumin sell excess renewable energy to ex ENERGY STAR National Director Bob Sauchelli
The energy industry took a giant step towards a consumer-run future today (Monday) when New York start-up TransActiveGrid enabled the first ever peer-to-peer paid transaction of energy in the USA.
The Brooklyn-based company has created a ‘microgrid’ where residents can buy and sell renewable energy. Once rolled out on a bigger scale, the concept could radically change how energy is bought and sold.
TransActiveGrid co-founder Lawrence Orsini said: “Today’s transaction was a huge moment for the energy industry.”
The historic transaction saw Eric Frumin, Change to Win Union Organizer, sell excess renewably generated energy directly to former ENERGY STAR National Director Bob Sauchelli.
It was the first proof of concept for the new microgrid, in which computer-controlled energy measurement systems are installed in private houses and linked into a community to allow people to create, buy and sell energy to each other.
Orsini added: “This is a necessary evolution to the energy markets. People want more choice in where and who they get energy from – and buying energy from neighbors in your community is surely the best way to do it.
“This is only made possible today because of progressive changes in policy and the engagement of the progressive utility companies, who see their place in the future of distributed energy.”
TransActiveGrid hopes the simple and cost-effective platform will encourage more consumers to generate their own energy through renewable sources, reducing the reliance on fossil fuels.
Sauchelli said: “I’m very excited to be part of this evolution of the energy markets. I look forward to supporting my neighbors in their investment of green energy by being their customer in the future.”
Frumin added: “Rooftop solar power is affordable today so we need to make it easier for environmentally conscious homeowners to raise the money they need to install solar on their homes as quickly as possible.”
Output from home-based energy systems such as solar, wind and battery storage is becoming an increasingly important part of the national energy supply chain.
By using blockchain technology – something originally created to run the bitcoin currency – TransActiveGrid makes it possible to count up and log every unit of energy created by one of these home systems.
Special software called ‘Smart Contracts’ then makes those units of energy available on the open market to be bought and sold in the local community, with the transactions going through PayPal.
Users can define their energy requirements – choosing exactly where they buy from – or to make things even simpler the process can be automated through a hands-off self-securing control system.
Joseph Lubin, co-founder of TransActiveGrid, said: “The electric power industry is decentralizing globally due to cheap photovoltaics and raised consumer and regulator consciousness about the efficiency, brittleness and vulnerability of power delivery.
“But still, until now, people have never been able to upload electrons to the grid and sell them to the guy across the street.
“By creating the platform to make this happen, TransActiveGrid will offer a decentralized way of trading in energy. The Brooklyn Microgrid is a proof of concept that could lead to a rearchitecting of electric grids globally.”
READY FOR ROLLOUT
The team at TransActiveGrid involves everything from environmental specialists to expert programmers and the project has drawn interest from some of the world’s biggest technology and media companies.
The infrastructure is ready for rollout and once the Brooklyn grid proves the concept, it could start a revolution.
Jacob Paulsen, the project programmer, said: “I cannot think of a more impactful and worthwhile project I’ve had the pleasure to work on. This could have an impact on an entire generation.”
Apple became a success by focusing on creating a simple user interface and usability is one of the key elements the team at TransActiveGrid is focusing on during this development phase.
By combining complex back-end software with familiar front-end systems such as PayPal, the aim is to make it easier for people to rapidly adopt the new technology.
Christian Lundkvist, CTO of TransActiveGrid, said: “Blockchain and smart contract technology is a natural fit for the energy sector, with unrivalled robustness, auditability and cyber security.”
Eva Shon, the company’s UX Designer, added: “By allowing solar owners to become energy providers for their community this will create transparent, decentralized marketplaces for energy with very low transaction fees.”
ABOUT BOB SAUCHELLI
Sauchelli was Program Manager for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Partnership. He retired in 2015. He was one of the originators of the ENERGY STAR Buildings program, the nation’s premier energy efficiency program for buildings and created partnerships for Commercial Real Estate and the Energy Services and Products industries. As a Program Manager, he was responsible for bringing Energy Service and Product Providers into ENERGY STAR and promoting them to energy users through the ENERGY STAR Service and Product Provider Program.
ABOUT ERIC FRUMIN
Health and Safety Director for Change to Win, Frumin has worked in this field for over 40 years. Change to Win is a partnership of four unions and 5 million workers, in a wide variety of industries, building a new movement of working people equipped to meet the challenges of the global economy in the 21st century and restore the American Dream: a pay check that can support a family, affordable health care, a secure retirement and dignity on the job. The four partner unions are: International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Service Employees International Union, United Farm Workers of America, and United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.