GI Energy Leader Explains Why it’s a Great Time to be in the Microgrid Industry

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Dave Yanni, chief development officer at GI Energy, tells Microgrid Knowledge editor Lisa Cohn why it’s such an exciting time to be in the microgrid industry. Taking a break during Microgrid 2019, Yanni describes GI Energy’s work and its efforts to build consensus for projects “early and often.”

GI Energy, a distributed energy resource developer, works with its customers to better understand their needs around energy. That could be managing costs, sustainability, resiliency or reliability, Yanni explained. The company helps clients develop solutions that are market ready, commercial, and bankable. GI Energy then deploys the solutions.

“The goal of our company is to ensure we are meeting our customers’ needs, delivering value to all stakeholders involved,” Yanni said.

That philosophy was front and center in a recent GI Energy project with a real estate developer in the Bay Area. The developer is working on a 400 to 500 acre property, Brisbane Baylands, for mixed, commercial and residential use.

In fact, Yanni and Jonathan Scharfman, senior vice president of UPC, shared the Microgrid 2019 stage to discuss this very project. Yanni explained that GI Energy is currently focused on helping UPC comply with very stringent code requirements in California while also meeting the “aspirational goals” of the community.

“The stakeholder universe can be massive,” and building consensus early and often — before getting to the regulators — is key.

“Especially in a state like California, if the community groups you’re working with aren’t on board, and they’re not involved, and they don’t feel like they have a say in the process, they can be a blocking mechanism,” he explained.

Yanni also described why it’s a great time to be in the microgrid industry.

The microgrid industry, he said “sits at the intersection of so many things that are important in our community right now.” Microgrids help society move away from fossil fuels to a carbon-free future, as they also address resiliency and reliability concerns. These concerns are front and center for many, considering the growing rate of natural disasters caused by wildfires, flooding, hurricanes and more.

“It’s also an exciting time in the technology space. We are making massive improvements in things like batteries and digital controls, and the Internet of Things…the infrastructure around smart cities,” Yanni said. “So if you think about big tech, climate change, innovations in finance, and the energy transition, this creates an incredibly exciting time for us.”

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