GE Forms New Company in $1B Play for Disruptive Energy Market

Oct. 7, 2015
GE is making a $1 billion play to offer microgrids, energy efficiency, energy storage, and other disruptive energy technologies to large energy users through a new company called Current.

GE is making a $1 billion play to offer microgrids, energy efficiency, energy storage, electric vehicles and other disruptive energy technologies to large energy users through a new company called Current.

Based in Boston, with offices in Silicon Valley, Current is a first-of-its-kind company that brings a range of efficiency-inducing energy services and technologies together under one roof, according to an announcement by GE Wednesday.

While Current includes GE LEDs as part of its package, the company moves well beyond conventional energy efficiency. GE says Current’s services  range from reducing power levels, to generating power on site to creating new revenue streams for customers through the use of sensors and networked systems in buildings.

“Current combines GE’s products and services in energy efficiency, solar, storage, and onsite power with our digital and analytical capabilities to provide customers – hospitals, universities, retail stores, and cities – with more profitable energy solutions,” said Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE.

With its deep pockets and $1 billion kickstart, GE is creating what appears to be a formidable player in the disruptive energy space. GE says it intends to scale the company to $5 billion by 2020.

Current already is piloting programs with several well-known brands: Walgreens, Simon Property Group, Hilton Worldwide, JPMorgan Chase, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), Intel and Trane, a brand of Ingersoll Rand.

Microgrids where applicable

The company analyzes customer needs and then recommends the combination of technologies that solve particular energy problems. The solutions include microgrids, where applicable, according to a company spokeswoman.

Current plans to use GE’s Predix, an energy analysis tool, to identify and deliver efficiencies and cost savings. The company also will serve customers through sensor-enabled hardware, software, fulfillment, product management and financing.

GE expects to save customers 10-20 percent on their energy bills, and help utilities better manage their distributed load through Current’s services. The company will use an energy-as-a-service model.

“We’ve been transforming the power and lighting sector since GE’s inception. Energy is part of our legacy, part of our genetic code. And digital code is a big part of our future. Once again, we have an opportunity with Current as a startup to lead another significant change in energy delivery,” said Beth Comstock, GE vice chair. Comstock oversees GE’s Business Innovation, which encompasses Current and other transformation efforts.

Maryrose Sylvester, who is president and CEO at GE Lighting, will lead Current.

GE has been laying the ground work in recent weeks for Wednesday’s announcement. The company revealed some details about the new company in late September at Minds & Machine 2015 in San Francisco.

What do you think GE’s $1 billion move means to the microgrid market? Comment below or on our LinkedIn groups: Microgrid Knowledge and Community Microgrids and Local Energy.

About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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