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Fort Collins was chosen as the site for the Electrification Coalition’s first EV accelerator community for a variety of reasons, and the thriving and innovative local business sector was a major one. Energy solutions provider Spirae is an excellent example of the incredible companies we get to team up with across the region. A founding partner in the Northern Colorado Workplace Charging Challenge, Spirae has worked with DENC since its inception to help spread the word about the benefits of going electric.
Based in Fort Collins, Spirae, LLC provides comprehensive distributed energy resource management systems (DERMS) for utilities and real-time microgrid controls, with projects in North America and Europe. The company’s Wave™ control platform allows customers of all sizes to integrate and manage high levels of renewable and distributed energy resources—think wind and solar power—at the edge of the grid.
Because Spirae’s work lives on the power grid, it sees a natural fit to integrate EV research into their work with the prospects of vehicle-to-grid and EV battery storage research. “One can imagine that the next step is trying to extend maximum value from EVs and the chargers themselves. What we can look forward to is trying to develop a new energy generation ecosystem where we are adding a management and control function,” said G.J. Pierman, Director of Special Projects for Spirae.
Photo courtesy of The Coloradoan
Currently, Spirae is in the process of implementing their Wave™ solution as an integrated part of their energy management controls system for its HQ facility in Fort Collins. Spirae has experience with vehicle-to-grid operations, working with smart EV chargers back in 2009 and 2010, though there was little demand for the technology at the time due to the small size of the nascent EV industry. With the proliferation of EVs and growing interest from existing customers, Spirae is now in the process of incorporating this capability into their newly developed second generation of energy management controls platform, Wave™.
Spirae is also one of DENC’s workplace charging partners and a participant in our recent group buy program for Nissan LEAF and BMW i3 EVs. In early 2015, Spirae installed two Level II EV charging stations, which are used to manage two modified electric Mini Coopers, each of which contains a 35kWh battery system. These vehicles and charging stations have been designed to allow energy to move in both directions, into the car or onto the grid. The company also installed additional charging stations after joining the Workplace Charging Challenge in early 2015. As a workplace charging partner, Spirae employees were able to take advantage of the DENC group buy program, and just one year after joining the Challenge, 10% of Spirae employees are now EV owners.
“We anticipated by installing the charging stations and hosting the DENC Workplace Charging Challenge launch event, we would have employees who would be interested in purchasing EVs, and sure enough, they were,” mentioned Pierman.
Spirae has an 11.575 kW solar array as an additional part of their energy management system. Solar energy plays a crucial role in grid management, says Spirae, as it becomes more common both in the private and commercial sectors.
“With renewable energy sources like solar or wind, you have a time when they are producing more energy than not. Especially solar, with day versus night. If you have EVs charging during that peak time, you are actually using that energy instead of limiting energy consumption. With a bi-directional control system, you are able to curtail the charging during peak energy demand, and use battery storage in the vehicle to put power back in the building or on the grid,” said Don Wright, Applications Engineer at Spirae.
DENC also spoke with Jeff Harrell, Spirae’s Vice President for Solution Delivery, and a new LEAF owner who participated in the DENC group buy program. When asked what the final push to buy his LEAF was, he said, “Purchasing an EV was something my family had considered for a while. With small children, we look ahead, and we want to leave the environment in a good state. For us, just becoming educated about all the various federal and state tax credits that are available in Northern Colorado, as well as the group buy discounts got us talking about it a lot more.”
Spirae is an excellent example not only of the innovative businesses in the Northern Colorado community, but also of the amazing people and organizations that are partners in the Workplace Charging Challenge and DENC. If you are interested in learning more about how your business or organization can get involved with EVs by joining the Workplace Charging Challenge, providing EV education to employees, and more, contact Annie Freyschlag at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 987-3055.
If you would like to learn more about Spirae, visit their website by clicking here.