Correction to This Article
A Nov. 26 Business article about Grid8Point Inc. misspelled the name of D.C. architect and Grid8Point investor David M. Schwarz.

D.C.'s Gridpoint Lands $9 Million in Venture Financing

By Terence O'Hara
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 26, 2005

Gridpoint Inc., a District company that makes electricity storage and management devices, recently closed on $9 million in equity funding, the first significant venture financing for the two-year-old firm.

Gridpoint's main product is a computerized power backup system for homes or businesses. Its rechargeable batteries can keep electricity on during a power failure, and it is supposed to reduce utility bills by using its battery power during peak periods when electricity rates are highest. It looks like a medium-size refrigerator and costs $6,000 to $16,000.

"What it's doing is what Tivo does for TV programming," said Peter L. Corsell, co-founder and chief executive."It's a plug-and-play appliance that's in constant communication with all the usage going on in the home."

Corsell said the money raised so far and an additional $6 million that is being raised will be used to increase production and hire more sales and support staff at the company's downtown headquarters. The company has about 50 employees.

Gridpoint, which has former senator Bill Bradley (D-N.J.) as an unpaid adviser, began taking orders for its products about a month ago. Only a few of its devices are installed in homes and small businesses. Corsell predicted that with new sales channels opening up -- including a deal to put products on the shelves at Lowe's home improvement stores -- about 2,000 devices will be sold next year, when he expects about $10 million in revenue. The products are built at a Pennsylvania contract factory.

The highest-price version of the company's power appliance also can manage electricity generated by renewable energy sources, such as solar panels or wind generators.

Corsell said the company is working on pilot programs with electric utilities that would allow Gridpoint users to sell some of their battery power back to the electric company during peak usage.

The company raised $1.8 million two years ago in a first round of financing from individual investors. The more recent financing includes a few venture capital firms, such as New Orleans's Advantage Capital Partners. But most of the money is being raised from individual investors, including technology author Esther Dyson; lawyer C. Boyden Gray; Washington architect David M. Schwartz; and William A. Nitze, who co-founded and is non-executive chairman of Gridpoint.

Last month, Gridpoint added several directors to its board, including Texas energy investor Richard S. Bodman and Alan L. Wurtzel, former chief executive of Circuit City Stores Inc.

Corsell said Gridpoint's main selling point is for customers who want backup power without a gas-powered generator. "The bonus is that it can save, on average, 10 percent to 15 percent a month on electricity bills," he said.


© 2005 The Washington Post Company