Free Electrons: A global alliance of energy utilities

April 9, 2019

American Electric Power & AusNet

One of the characteristics that make Free Electrons a huge opportunity for startups is that it is truly global: the startups joining the program will get a chance to work with 10 global utilities, with experience and big markets under their belt.

Let’s get to know two of the utilities that are part of the Free Electrons utility alliance.

American Electric Power – AEP

American Electric Power is based in Columbus, Ohio, and is focused on building a smarter energy infrastructure and delivering new technologies and custom energy solutions to its customers.

We spoke with Ram Sastry, the Vice President of Innovation and Technology at AEP, who highlighted the pilots developed in 2018: with Kisensum, whose software Energy Management storage platform allows owners of electric cars, building loads and solar panels to optimize and integrate all these resources and optimize them; Howz, whose app allows customers to monitor the activity of elderly loved ones and receive alerts in case of abnormal behavior; and a third one where they partnered up with a startup and three other utilities in the program to develop a pilot, coordinating common goals.

We learned a lot negotiating with each other and coming up with common goals and a common framework.

According to Sastry, the program is rich in learning, giving equal importance to the learnings utilities get from working from startups, but also the learning they get from working with each other.

To AEP is clear that energy utilities are not stuck in the past: the future will not be equal to the present and past, so Free Electrons’ utilities are ready to welcome startups and create the solutions and products consumers’ are waiting for.

Watch the whole interview:


A major player in the Australian energy industry, AusNet is Victoria’s largest energy delivery service business owning and operating approximately $11 billion of electricity and gas distribution assets that connect into more than 1.3 million homes and businesses.

We spoke with Chad Hymas, Executive General Manager of AusNet, who highlighted the pilots they developed in the last edition, like data analytics and energy sharing in order to create a new transactional future for energy.

AusNet is also pleased with the collaboration between utilities, as sharing information helps them move forward even with startups they didn’t started pilots with, and also come up with real global solutions that can shape the future.

The collaboration between utilities has helped us go back to Aperio [startup from Free Electrons ‘17], cause we know other members of Free Electrons are also using their solution, and that gives us the confidence to treat them a more mature vendor.

According to Hymas, to becoming winners (of the program but also of new clients), startups must make very clear from the beginning what is the added value they bring, the problem they are solving, and genuine about their business and what their mission is.

Watch the full interview below:

The first module of Free Electrons ‘19 will happen on the 21st – 24th of May in Columbus, Ohio, home of AEP. The objective of this first module will be to match solutions with concrete challenges and define a collaborative roadmap for the first pilot among startups and Utilities.