LO3’s Brooklyn Microgrid is Creating New ways For People to Participate in Energy
“We are pursuing the creation of virtual and physical microgrids”
Lawrence Orsini worked as an engine machinist on locomotives early in his career. He also fine-tuned race cars.
Now the engine he hopes to rev is his LO3 Energy startup, launched in 2012, which is building microgrids from Brooklyn to Berlin and beyond.
Orsini previously worked on bringing the glories of energy efficiency to the grocery sector. LO3, where he is CEO, has about 30 fulltime workers working to re-envision the energy world.
“We are pursuing the creation of virtual and physical microgrids,” he said.
Microgrids are at the heart of the coming electric sector revolution that will take the industry from analog to digital DNA, away from a dumb, centralized system to a nimble, dispersed honeycomb of energy neighborhoods. One day, you may be able to buy energy from your neighbor or neighborhood supermarket – and sell excess energy from your rooftop solar panels down to your own street.
“We’re going to enable the transactive energy control of virtual microgrids and physical microgrids,” Orsini said. “The Brooklyn Microgrid is one project. We have projects in Australia, Germany, the UK, and a couple more here in the United States. At this point, what we really intend to do is test business models and see what resonates. We are looking to enable people to participate in energy in different ways.”
“We have been working with some of the largest utilities in the United States, launching programs to help bring new technology to markets and to figure out how people work with emerging tech. It became pretty clear around 2010 to 2012 that the market was shifting rapidly. Distributed generation was really taking hold a lot faster than anybody was predicting. But there’s going to be a real stretch for this market to adopt new business models.”
His company’s efforts are most advanced today at Brooklyn Microgrid, which works with about 60 prosumers who own primarily photovoltaics but also wind and combined heat and power units. Meters are installed, data streams into the platform. A virtual market is happening.
“We have about 800 consumers that are ready to either buy or sell energy as soon as we’re ready to allow them to. We’re in the last stages of conversations with the regulators in New York,” said Orsini.
We’re in the last stages of conversations with the regulators in New York,” said Orsini.
The change Orsini hopes to bring to energy customers is likely to emerge first in New York, Texas, and California., where regulatory and business conditions are most ideal.
“There’s pretty progressive policy there,” he said. “We could still fit within most of the states staying within the existing policy, but early on it’s going to work much better in those three states. Most of the policy leadership in the United States is going to come from Texas, New York, and California. So those are the places to be.”