ConsenSys raised approximately $40 million during the initial coin offering (ICO) presale for Grid+, its commercial electricity retail business and eventual energy-sharing marketplace. The Grid+ ICO will launch to the general public next month.
Grid+ has a two-fold strategy to disrupt the energy markets. Initially, the company will launch commercial utility retailers in deregulated markets; the first will operate in Texas and is slated to open in 2018. The company will leverage the efficiencies of the Ethereum blockchain to automate billing and payments, ultimately reducing overhead and allowing them to sell electricity for less than legacy utility providers.
Customers will pay for their electricity in real time using a BOLT, a USD-backed token. Since payments will be made at the time of consumption, customers will not be able to run up bad debts whose costs providers must pass along to other customers.
Eventually, Grid+ plans to expand its business into an energy-sharing marketplace where users can sell surplus solar or battery power to other customers on the network. Australian solar startup Power Ledger has launched a similar project.
Grid+ co-founder Alex Miller told CCN that these next-generation utilities projects will radically transform the energy sector.
Transformation of the energy sector comes down to a shift in economic incentives. By exposing customers to market-driven pricing, which is traditionally obfuscated, next-generation utilities like Grid+ incentivize consumers to purchase distributed energy resources (DERs), such as photovoltaics and batteries, and turn them into revenue streams. Blockchains like Ethereum connect these DERs through a natively p2p transactive layer. The end result is a shift of supply from upstream generators to local prosumers who transmit their power over much shorter distances.
To help build its user base, the company is selling one-time use GRID tokens that will provide consumers with discounts on electricity purchased from Grid+. Users will be able to exchange each GRID token for the right to purchase 500 kWh of electricity at the wholesale price.
Citing overwhelming interest, the team closed the presale after selling the 45 million tokens allocated to it. The presale was open to the public, but participants had to contribute at least $50,000 and complete a KYC process. Token prices are fixed, but presale contributors received volume discounts of up to 35%. The official Grid+ ICO will begin October 30.
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