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Why We Invested in Public Grid

Reach out to Brett Calhoun, Managing Director & Partner at Redbud VC, at to learn about Redbud, and subscribe to our newsletter here.

Public Grid is transforming how residents at multifamily properties interact with their electricity providers. Public Grid starts by offering renewable energy at no extra cost and adds a myriad of cost and time-saving add-ons from there.

Energy markets are difficult to navigate for domain experts and nearly impossible to navigate for consumers. The complexity starts with understanding where your energy comes from and how your home receives the energy. To start, there are regulated (monopolized utilities) and deregulated (competitive utilities) markets, from there, each market offers a variety of energy solutions to consumers. For simplicity, we're going to focus on the deregulated market and the community choice aggregation programs that operate within them. Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) programs are local government initiatives that empower communities to unite their electricity demand and procure power from alternative suppliers, with a strong focus on renewable energy sources in deregulated markets. By 2017, CCAs had already powered 5 million customers nationwide, exceeding state mandates for renewable energy supply. CCAs play a significant role in driving renewable energy development by creating demand for new projects and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, thus accelerating progress toward state and local climate goals. However, CCAs encounter challenges, including regulatory uncertainties, slow implementation, possible consumer cost increases, and potential impacts on existing utility structures, which require careful management for long-term success.

The absence of CCAs can leave consumers struggling to access renewable energy, as they lack the collective bargaining power to secure affordable options. Individuals seeking to purchase renewable energy independently face significantly higher costs, making it a less feasible choice. While some homeowners and multi-family real estate operators opt for solar panels to secure greener energy, the high upfront capital expenses, averaging around $20,000 for a typical 2,000 sqft home after solar tax credits, hindering widespread adoption. Public Grid aims to overcome these barriers by offering an intuitive platform that benefits both consumers and energy stakeholders, making renewable energy adoption more attractive and impactful.

Public Grid is an energy analytics and broker platform for residents of MFR operators. Public Grid integrates with smart meters to provide 15 to 30-minute data intervals on energy consumption. Then, Public Grid brokers renewable energy in bulk from wholesalers at a discount to existing utility bills.

The Public Grid platform is already live with Invesco in New York City. The platform is free to use and takes no payment or fees upfront. Residents can easily choose renewable energy with the click of a button. Public Grid’s platform moves with the residents even if they switch to homeownership and/or a new state. The platform’s ease of use and analytics gives consumers the tools to manage their energy consumption in a more sustainable and efficient way. Historically, consumers had to go through platforms to broker renewable energy at a premium, so now it’s cheaper and more accessible. Public Grid’s infrastructure will help support the future growth of renewable energy.

The global renewable energy market is ripe for innovations like Public Grid to capitalize on the forecasted growth. Renewable energy is expected to more than double from $856 billion in 2021 to $2 trillion in 2030. Renewable energy already contributes to 21% of the US's electricity, being the second-largest electricity generation source, and solar power is projected to account for nearly half of new US electric generating capacity. In 2021, President Biden signed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, allocating $65 billion for energy grid infrastructure enhancement and $50 billion for cyber and climate resilience over the next five years.

Zack Schmitz and Joe Robbins, the visionary co-founders of Public Grid, bring together a diverse blend of expertise and passion to drive sustainable energy solutions forward. With a Master's degree in EECS/Integrated Design & Management from MIT, Zack is a tech entrepreneur known for his hustler mentality and belief in tackling challenges through design thinking and hard work. He has an impressive track record of leading design and technology projects, honing his skills at Deloitte as a Senior Consultant specializing in energy innovation. Joe's deep-rooted passion for the environment and energy began during his time at Clarkson University, where he founded SCORE, a program promoting energy efficiency and safety in off-campus student housing. With a background in environmental consulting and creative media, Joe's journey includes impactful work at the Environmental Defense Fund and a successful last-mile delivery company. Zack's problem-solving skills and experience in consumer applications, combined with Joe's passion for the environment and outstanding marketing talents, create a powerful synergy. At Redbud VC, we are beyond excited to be investors in the “energy” Public Grid is creating.


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