Ben Franklin

INVESTING IN PENNSYLVANIA’S FUTURE

Philadelphia’s Viridity Energy moves toward a more efficient future

“Energy efficiency” doesn’t mean what it used to.

Not too long ago, being “energy efficient” was often synonymous with “being uncomfortable.” It meant sweaters in January and sweat in July. It was, simply, a pain.

Not anymore. Now, conservation can be comfortable, non-disruptive – and even profitable.
With BFTP's help, Viridity is working toward a more efficient future.You can thank Viridity Energy for that.

The Philadelphia company, founded in 2008, is a leader in “smart grid” technology and software.

Basically, Viridity works withThe  businesses and other large facilities, using their existing infrastructure – the thermal efficiency of a building, for instance – to generate revenue from wholesale electricity markets, while at the same time cutting energy use.

The company’s VPower software solution lets customers see and understand energy pricing, shift and balance energy load dynamically, integrate advanced energy technologies, and convert existing energy investments into new revenue streams.

“We’ve been able to take our knowledge of the real-time systems necessary to manage the power grid and use it to fully empower customers to be active participants in power use,” Viridity founder, president and CEO Audrey Zibelman said.

Viridity has certainly succeeded – as in a recent partnership with SEPTA, which will enable the transit authority to capture energy generated by train brakes, then store it and flow it back into the power grid.

Help from Ben Franklin

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP) saw immediate potential in Viridity. BFTP invested $350,000 in the company in 2010 to develop software and meet its personnel needs. In 2011, BFTP awarded Viridity another $50,000 through its Alternative and Clean Energy Technology Development and Commercialization Initiative. The ACED award, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, matched $900,000 in funds from the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority to develop the system with SEPTA.

“Ben Franklin has been easy to work with,” Viridity Energy president and CEO Audrey Zibelman said. “The amount of time they’ve spent trying to learn what can be an arcane industry is terrific. Now, when they’re dialoging with others, they’ve become the experts. They’re very helpful in telling the story of what we do and why we do it.”

BFTP’s assistance, Zibelman said, has been key for Viridity, which last year raised $15 million from New York and Boston-based Braemar Energy Ventures to accelerate growth. Viridity currently has 30 employees.

“When we proposed the SEPTA project, Ben Franklin jumped on it,” Zibelman said. “They know exactly what we’re talking about. It’s not just renewable energy. It’s using resources better – efficiency, so we can manage costs and increase environmental benefits.”

All the while, BFTP has been an active partner for Viridity.

“Ben Franklin has been easy to work with,” Zibelman said. “The amount of time they’ve spent trying to learn what can be an arcane industry is terrific. Now, when they’re dialoging with others, they’ve become the experts. They’re very helpful in telling the story of what we do and why we do it.”

Moving toward a more efficient future

Viridity’s goal, Zibelman said, is to continue to drive the evolution of their industry – leading the way by unlocking customer load’s potential to serve as an active, reliable, sustainable resource.

In November, Viridity and client Axion Power International became the first active regulation resources to participate in the PJM Interconnection Regulation market, helping enhance the reliability of the grid and improving the competitiveness of the electric markets.

“When resources are used more efficiently and load is not only controlled but used as an active resource, the country can fulfill the promise of interconnected systems responding dynamically to strengthen the grid,” Zibelman said.

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This article was featured in
Keynotes January, 2012
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