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New Jersey’s Princeton Power Systems moves ahead

The company's breakthrough technology in grid power back up and reliability
The company's breakthrough technology in grid power back up and reliability
Courtesy of Princeton Power Systems

Unlike Pennsylvania where shale gas exploration has become the state’s virtual sole energy focus, next door neighbor New Jersey has continued to grow its installed solar base and with it, a number of local innovative renewable energy service companies who no longer need state energy subsidies to grow their businesses. One of these companies is Princeton Power Systems located in Lawrenceville, New Jersey about 45 miles from Center City Philadelphia. The company is a leader in the rapidly emerging field of technology solutions for energy management, micro-grid operations and electric vehicle charging often referred to as grid utility services. This past Friday at the Energy Storage Association’s annual conference held in Washington DC, sat down with Princeton Power’s President and CEO, Mr. Kenneth W. McCauley, who spoke about the company, its innovative technology, and growing list of successful renewable energy equipment installations.

Mr. McCauley is a veteran executive in the telecom industry having worked for AT&T and Lucent Technologies. He has held senior executive positions with ANADIGICS, NanoOpto Corporation and Konarka Technologies. He provided with background on the company and its core value proposition.

Founded in 2001 by several Princeton University graduates led by Darren Hammell, the company’s current Chief Strategy Officer and Co-founder, Princeton Power has focused its engineering resources on solving one of the biggest problems faced by solar and wind energy users, the fact that neither solar or wind are 24/7 energy sources, a frequent criticism of these power sources according to Mr. McCauley. He pointed out that Princeton Power’s Made in USA and Made in New Jersey power electronics solutions answer the problem of renewables intermittency by combining battery storage and other power sources seamlessly into installations of solar and wind energy. McCauley stated, “At our core, we solve the holy grail of the renewable energy business in that we can fully integrate utility and community scale power solutions that work with the utility grid, a solar or wind array, battery storage and diesel generators to provide power from all these sources as needed in a typical 24 hour use day.” He further stated, “We can work with any type of battery chemistry in terms of lead acid, sodium nickel chloride, lithium ion and others while providing full monitoring and control of these power systems from remote locations.”

McCauley pointed to growing list customers using Princeton Power’s power electronics solutions including the National Park Service’s Alcatraz Island and the San Diego Zoo. In the Alcatraz Island project, Princeton Power designed a microgrid solution for the old prison island power needs which, among other things, reduced the Park’s Services use of diesel fuel on the island by 80%, a major improvement in air quality on the island. McCauley also stated the company has recently completed a series of five energy management services projects in England.

Last Friday, the government of Equatorial Guinea selected MAECI Solar, a division of Management and Economic Consulting, Inc., in collaboration with GE Power & Water (NYSE:GE) and Princeton Power Systems, Inc., to install a 5-megawatt (MW) solar microgrid system on Annobon Province, an island off Equatorial Guinea in west central Africa. The solar microgrid will feature 5-MW solar modules and system integration by MAECI, an energy management system and controls from Princeton Power Systems and energy storage from GE. The island-wide micro-grid will provide reliable, predictable power, supply enough electricity to handle 100 percent of the island's current energy demand and be the largest self-sufficient solar project on the continent of Africa.

Princeton Power Systems’ heritage includes the role of start up investor Dr. Greg Olsen, one of the first private U.S. citizens to travel in space to the International Space Station via a Russian rocket. Dr. Olsen met the young Princeton University’s students who founded the company back in 2001 at a local Princeton coffee house the day after they graduated. After speaking with Daren Hammell and his associates, Dr. Olsen was so impressed with their business model; he offered to fund them on the spot. Another key management member is Chairman of The Board Dr. Marshall Cohen, who holds a B.S. in physics from the University of Michigan and his Ph.D. in solid state physics from the University of Pennsylvania. He has done pioneering work on electrically conducting polymers. In 1991, Dr. Cohen co-founded Sensors Unlimited and eventually served as the President and CEO of the company. Dr. Cohen became the President and CEO of Princeton Power Systems prior to Mr. McCauley becoming President and CEO.

With Princeton Power System’s power electronics solutions now answering the long standing criticism of solar and wind as intermittent energy sources, the company is now proving wrong yet another frequent criticism of solar and wind projects which many who claim they cannot exist without significant and some believe unfair taxpayer subsidies. Mr. McCauley was quite confident in advising his company’s solutions do not need government subsidies or incentives to be part of profitable energy management and microgrid applications. He stated, “More and more people are beginning to realize the real cost of not having power such as what occurred during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Look at what happened at NYU Hospital in New York City the night of Sandy. The economic cost of losing power and damage to the hospital it created exceeded many times the cost of having seamless back up, redundant and ongoing emergency power.” Mr. McCauley went on to say, “In the projects we are involved in with such as partners in General Electric and others, the financial analysis show our solutions make economic sense without the need for any additional government incentives.”

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Full disclosure: The writer holds no financial arrangements or is he being to write for any of the entities or individuals listed in this article. He is not a member of any solar or wind energy advocacy association nor is he writing on this topic for any public relations firms or groups.

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