Indiana Energy Startup Lands Big Projects, Looks to Grow

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The small Indiana company Go Electric is making some big waves in the energy industry.  After switching its focus in 2013 from electric vehicle technology to microgrids and uninterruptable power systems, the business continues to land major projects, including one in Hawaii that partners it with the Departments of Defense, Energy and Homeland Security. President and founder Lisa Laughner says her four-person company is ready to grow.

Go Electric is preparing to demonstrate a high-profile microgrid project called SPIDERS at Camp Smith on Oahu along with the DoD, DoE and DHS. Laughner says Go Electric is putting in two of its large 250KW battery energy storage systems with built-in microgrid controllers, has delivered two large Caterpillar generators, and is managing two additional large Caterpillar generators - ultimately controlling about 3.5 MW of power for the base.

“The goal is to take the whole base off the grid, so it’s completely resilient to any power outages or issues with the grid going on around it on Oahu. It’s an important military base, it houses Pacific Command. They want 100 percent energy security and resiliency and we’re just delighted to be a part of that program,” explains Laughner.

Earlier this year, Go Electric won a second contract as part of a technology competition called RISE: NYC, sponsored by the city of New York. The search was for energy, anti-flooding, and communications technologies that would make small businesses more resilient to weather events such as superstorm Sandy, which did significant damage to the east coast in 2012. Go Electric received one of 11 awards out of the 50 finalists chosen from around the world.

The RISE: NYC project will help four Brooklyn-area businesses protect their energy resources, including natural gas and solar through Go Electric’s LINC DR® resiliency system. It’s designed to provide 100 percent energy protection, no matter what is happening on the grid.

“We’re excited to be able to show more progress with the development of our system there,” Laughner says. “Its batteries are so advanced, it can actually help reduce the loads the building has and produce some power quality corrections, lowering the building owner’s utility bill. We think it’s the first system that pays for itself by doing that.”

Go Electric has another major proposal in with Hawaiian Electric to help prevent rolling brownouts and blackouts by utilizing an equipment system that will help reduce loads. Laughner says her company’s proposal has been short-listed for the project, placed in a good position through Go Electric’s presence at the Camp Smith site.

Laughner just returned from SXSW ECO in Austin, Texas, which focuses on clean tech, green tech and related social issues. Go Electric was one of the eight energy startups chosen to present a three minute pitch to a panel of distinguished judges in the competition.

“Unfortunately, we weren’t the winner, which was a little disappointing, but we had four different investor groups approach me after the pitch, which was my goal.”

Laughner says the time has come to grow Go Electric, which is currently comprised of four people and related contractors. “We’re in Series A mode, trying to raise money to grow our team and do some more development and testing and certification on our equipment.”

“The energy future is really changing,” she notes. “Distributed generation is really ramping up, and that’s what we’re a part of. Utilities need to figure out how they’re going to stay alive, and not spiral away with the traditional business model.” 

Laughner describes Go Electric's commitment to the RISE: NYC project.
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