Packetized Energy, a Burlington company that manufactures energy-saving technology, has been acquired by New York-based EnergyHub and plans to expand in the coming year.
Founded in 2016 by Paul Hines, Jeff Frolik and Mads Almassalkhi, professors of electrical engineering at the University of Vermont, Packetized Energy has developed algorithms to help utilities communicate with water heaters, electric vehicles and cooling systems. battery to determine when and how they operate. The algorithms also allow utilities to control the energy consumption of a home or business, for example by lowering the thermostat or the water heater a few degrees during peak periods.
Some utilities already do this, using specialized software that monitors Internet-connected thermostats and other devices to assess energy use remotely.
“We built the software platform around the idea that you’ll have a lot of these network-connected internet devices, and we need a common language to communicate with all of them,” Hines said.
Thanks to UVM, the three founders received a $2 million grant from the US Department of Energy to turn their research work into a commercial project. They have since received an additional $3 million in federal research funding, according to UVM.
The companies declined to disclose the sale price. The acquisition will allow Packetized Energy to grow, said Hines, the CEO, who started teaching at UVM in 2007 and left late last year amid the acquisition. Packetized has nine employees and Hines expects the staff to double in the coming year. The company is now looking for software engineers and larger offices.
“Packetized Energy was founded to help address the climate crisis, and the acquisition by EnergyHub allows us to scale our technology,” the company said in a statement.
Hines and Brodie O’Brien, senior brand marketing manager for EnergyHub who now works in the Burlington office, said it expects the company to remain in the state, at least for the foreseeable future.
“There’s a very sincere commitment to growing the office here,” Hines said of his new employer.
Packetized Energy has operated pilot projects in California, South Carolina, Canada and Vermont, including one with the Burlington Electric Department. EnergyHub has over 60 utility customers in the United States and Canada.
“We partnered with Energy Hub because it gives us the ability to use our algorithms on a much larger scale in the United States and Canada,” Hines said.
The three founders of Packetized developed their technology when they were looking for ways to help utilities balance demand with power supply from technologies such as solar and wind power. These renewables are the fastest growing sources of electricity in the world, but they also produce electricity inconsistently.
“The wind and the sun come and go when they want to,” Hines said. “As we get to the point where we get more electricity from wind and solar, we need to adapt the rest of the system to use electricity when it’s plentiful and avoid consuming electricity when it’s bad. shortage.”
To reduce the stress of meeting peak demand, utilities use a technology called distributed energy resources, or DER. Such systems include anything that powers the electrical grid, including solar panels; anything that stores energy, such as batteries; and any device used to moderate the power consumption of a device. Packetized Energy’s software is itself a DER.
Local officials plan to use the technology to increase the resilience of the state’s energy grid. Solar power produces about 14% of the electricity generated in Vermont, according to the Department of Public Service. And local utilities also get electricity from national and regional hydroelectric plants, wind turbines, biomass and a pool that includes natural gas, oil, nuclear power and even a small quantity of coal, according to Anne Margolis, deputy director of planning at the Department of the Public Service.
Vermont experiences a spike in energy demand both in the summer — when air conditioner use increases — and in the winter, when solar output is low and people need to heat their homes.
“Our regional energy system is very stressed during polar vortices,” Margolis said. “If it’s a five-day period of temperatures below 10, we need to make sure we don’t have all these electric vehicles and heat pumps adding to that stress again.”