Media Coverage

DOW JONES: Ice Energy Warms Up With Municipal Utility Deal

Ice Energy builds up commercial business with California utility agreement

BY SARI KRIEGER, Dow Jones Clean Technology Insight
August 26, 2009

Energy storage company Ice Energy Inc. signed a deal with Redding Electric Utility to help it reduce peak demand through storage, as Ice begins to build up a commercial-stage business.

The City of Redding, Calif., locally owned and controlled municipal utility said in a statement that if it uses 1,000 of Ice Energy's Ice Bear units in its territory, it would enable the utility to reduce its peak power demand by as much as 7 megawatts.

Ice Energy wouldn't disclose how many units the contract is for or how much it is worth.

"This contract is significant in the fact that it represents a new comfort level with the technology - they are ready to move beyond the 'prove it to me' phase and deploy the technology in application rather than simply testing the technology itself," said Greg Tropsa, co-founder and executive vice president of Ice Energy in an email to Clean Technology Insight.

Windsor, Colo.-based Ice Energy makes a product that can help reduce the peak-demand load on utilities by using energy at night to make ice in the unit, and then using that ice during the day to cool a refrigerant to use for air conditioning.

Daytime use of air conditioning is a strain on utilities that often have to generate more expensive, dirtier power to meet extra daytime demand. In addition, with the roll-out of smart meters and other smart grid technologies, utilities are switching over to charging customers real-time energy prices that would increase during the day when demand is highest.

Ice Energy says its technology has the potential to permanently shift as much as 40% of peak energy demand to off-peak hours.

Each unit stores approximately 450,000 British thermal units of energy, which means that it can offset 7.2 kilowatts of energy for six hours. The company says 13,500 of its units would offset about 100 MW.

In May, Ice Energy hired a new chief operating officer to help bring the company from a research-and-development operation to a business that offers utility-scale deployments.

The new chief operating officer, John McGee, said in a recent interview that the company is in contract talks with about 50 utilities, and if all signed on to use Ice Energy's product, the contracts would be worth 1.6 gigawatts of storage. Tropsa declined to give an update on the status of these talks.

Ice Energy has raised a total of $74.4 million since 2002. Its investors include SAIL Venture Partners, Second Avenue Partners, Goldman Sachs, Good Energies and Energy Capital Partners.

The investment by Energy Capital Partners also provides for up to $150 million in additional project capital for the deployment of multiple utility-scale energy storage projects.