The backdrop of last month’s devastating power outages across Texas paints an ominous picture, and the timing for Copper’s next phase of growth couldn’t be more critical to help address these challenges. Now more than ever, utilities need better ways to manage demand and connect with consumers in real time. And that’s exactly what we do: help utilities take control of energy demand by engaging consumers with real-time meter data.

I’m thrilled to be working with National Grid Partners (NGP) and to share more about National Grid’s deployment of Copper to support a gas demand response program in New York this winter. With Copper’s technology, National Grid can access gas usage data from meters every 30 seconds, rather than every 30 days. They’re using this capability to test new programs that encourage customers to adjust their energy consumption in real time:

Copper Labs Utility Portal website showing energy usage in New York state.

Grid-edge intelligence has the potential to let consumers participate more proactively in the energy system — leveraging personalized insights and increased interactions with their utility providers to reduce costs and help meet carbon reduction targets.

The resources that the NGP team brings to companies like Copper is unmatched: from a dedicated business development team that helps us expand our growing utility deployments to an internal innovation team that can help us pilot the next generation of wireless real-time energy management products we’re working on now. Having them on the team feels like a new superpower, and we couldn’t be more excited.

Beyond the significant resources that NGP brings to the table, I’m also pumped to welcome Dillon McDonald to Copper’s board. His knowledge of this market, deep network of relevant partners and obvious passion for growing new businesses couldn’t have come at a better time as we scale the company. While we’d been in touch for a while, I first met Dillon in person at the Blue Bear Capital CEO Summit at the Houston Space Center back in October 2019:

Dan Forman at Blue Bear Capital CEO Summit under a retired space shuttle.
Yep, that’s me standing under a retired space shuttle and I had the opportunity to meet a former space shuttle commander a few minutes later. The latest investment from NGP feels like strapping into a rocket, and I couldn’t be more excited for what’s ahead.

Why Now?

Many of the utilities in the U.S. can only access meter data once every 30 days. Even utilities with fully deployed smart meters, and their customers, can typically only access 15-minute interval data from the previous day. And if you think 15-minute interval smart meter data is cool, wait until you see a real-time stream, with or without smart meters.

The capabilities Copper brings to our utility partners couldn’t be more timely as we all continue to experience the impacts of an evolving grid:

  • Increasing penetration of DERs and the intermittent supply and demand conditions they bring require real-time grid-edge intelligence to stabilize the grid.
  • Unpredictable demand peaks require targeted customer engagement and real-time demand management to avoid catastrophic failures.
  • Impacts from COVID-19 driving increased work from home is adding pressure to parts of the residential grid — and consumer bills — that weren’t designed to handle it.

Check out this comparison of residential energy loads over the past two summers:

Graph showing energy use (in kW) for Summer 2019 compared to Summer 2020 to highlight impact of COVID-19 on residential energy usage.

What’s Next?

We’re excited for this next phase of growth as we invest in marketing, sales and product development. Our latest hardware release also delivers real-time voltage and frequency detection at the outlet to support voltage reduction programs and provide an additional last-mile, early warning system for the types of frequency drops that nearly led to a complete blackout in Texas last month.

Power no longer just flows in one direction — and the grid isn’t prepared. Copper is ready to help our utility partners address these challenges, so get in touch to find out how we might be able to help you operate a more resilient grid as we all work to secure a more sustainable energy future.