BoxPower wants to reduce emissions and forest fire risk by pulling power from the main grid • businessupdates.org

by Ana Lopez

After fueling California’s second largest wildfire ever, and dozens more it’s no secret that Pacific Gas & Electric has been interested in alternatives to overhead transmission lines in recent years.

One option touted by PG&E – one of the nation’s largest utility companies – is to bury thousands of miles of power lines in “fire-risk areas.” That effort is underway, and it will cost billions and costs take ten years or more, according to the utility’s projections. But another piece of the puzzle could be microgrids.

BoxPowerone startup working on such technology says its mini-power plants can do a better job of delivering reliable, low-carbon energy to people who live “on the edges of distribution lines.”

Neither route will wipe out PG&Es awful environment State of servicebut if climate change drives more extreme heat waves, solar-powered microgrids can help remote communities keep the lights on even if the macrogrid goes down, while also eliminating some dangerous power lines. That’s the idea, which is why Grass Valley, California-based BoxPower has raised a $5 million Series A round from Swell Energy backer Aligned Climate Capital.

“By placing the Microgrid within ~250ft of the customer, BoxPower eliminates all overhead power lines,” BoxPower co-founder and CEO Angelo Campus said in a statement to businessupdates.org. With solar panels, large batteries and backup propane generators, the power generated by the startup eventually reaches rural residents “via underground low-voltage wires,” according to Campus.

In addition to utilities, BoxPower says it has also worked on residential, commercial and agricultural projects, which are typically “island-bound” or not connected to the main grid. In all, the startup says it currently operates more than 35 microgrids across California, Puerto Rico, Alaska and Hawaii.

“BoxPower is on track to deploy an additional 25-30 microgrid systems this year,” added Campus.

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