Energy Management is a Global Issue

By Sayre Evan Swarztrauber

There are many lessons that we have and haven’t learned from the economic calamities wrought by the 2008 collapse of the housing market. But one truth about the 21st century was made clear: we, as people of the world, are interconnected. Economies depend on one another more than ever as nations struggle to recover from the evaporation of $10 trillion in global wealth.

Quadlogic Controls Corporation (QLC), based in New York City, is a small business that experienced the hardships of the financial crisis. Since 1982, QLC had produced smart meters, which are conduits that allow for communication between utilities and consumers. They enable customers to monitor their electricity usage in real time. Smart meters make individuals and businesses responsible for the cost of electricity use, which can lead to smarter, greener, and more sustainable decisions.

Because QLC’s smart meters are installed primarily in apartment buildings and commercial buildings, the real estate bubble that grew until 2007 greatly benefited the company’s core business. However, the collapsing housing market caused demand for green technologies such as smart meters to plummet as construction of new buildings ceased and oil prices dropped.

In 2008, Quadlogic lost the majority of its core, North American smart meter business and began hemorrhaging money and resources while running out of time to turn things around. The inventors at  QLC needed to build a new, electricity-management product that could somehow tap into a new market and satisfy an unmet need. They decided to solve the problem of electricity theft in developing nations, such as Jamaica, which opened a new door for the company.

Electricity theft is an activity that is highly destructive to the environment. Not only is it dangerous to tamper with power lines, but people who steal electricity have no incentive to temper their usage and be conscious of their environmental impact. Outdated energy grids in these poor neighborhoods provided thieves with the opportunity to strike.

QLC invented and produced the Energy Guard, which is an advanced smart meter that can prevent electricity theft while providing all of the aforementioned, conventional benefits of sub-metering. In some neighborhoods rates of electricity theft went from 70% into the single digits after installation of QLC equipment.

QLC took an entrepreneurial risk in focusing on and rapidly producing a new product to combat an old problem. Jamaica’s main power company became an important client as Quadlogic survived through sales of its new product. Now, the old business of conventional smart meters has recovered close to its pre-recession levels, and the Energy Guard sales continue to grow.

QLC’s innovation saved its business and opened the door to a new market where small businesses can benefit from solving an environmental problem while saving customers and utilities money in the process.

For more information on the Energy Guard and electricity theft,  watch an explanation from Marc Segan, co-founder and advisor to QLC, talking about the product:


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2 thoughts on “Energy Management is a Global Issue

  1. Hi Evan,

    Great work on this post. I love the multimedia you incorporated and your writing is solid. On a blog, you may want to consider disclosing the fact that this is your family’s business. It will give a more personal side to the piece that people will empathize with. Don’t be afraid to use “I” on your blog. I know this goes against everything you learn in school, but this post is YOURS, not a report.

    Best,
    M

  2. Frank Sesno says:

    Good work on multi media in the blog. You take a strong point of view. The blog feels a little promotional to me. And I still think you can make a virtue out of necessity. Your father runs the company. Say so. Be transparent. Have a little fun with it. “Love the old man. Love the company he runs even more. The business isn’t for me but it’s doing a lot for the world. And if he gets rich in the process, well, maybe one day…” You know, a little playful. But this would also have the virtue of making the piece more personal and, because it’s more transparent, less promotional. Here as in the video, I’d like some metrics: how much does this save in terms of dollar or stolen energy? Overall, good and interesting blog.

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