FirstEnergy invests in Venture Capital Fund to help advance sustainable energy innovation
As part of its efforts to advance new technologies that will benefit customers and address climate change, FirstEnergy announced an incremental investment in global venture capital firm Energy Impact Partners' (EIP) Fund II. Through this and other funds, EIP brings leading utility, energy, real-estate and industrial companies together with sustainable energy entrepreneurs to help finance, develop and deploy technologies to lead the transition to a sustainable future.
As a limited partner in EIP Fund II, FirstEnergy joins with leading utilities and other companies to provide more than $1 billion in capital commitments to the initiative. Some of the core target areas for EIP Fund II investments include HVAC and transportation electrification initiatives, energy storage and carbon capture technology, grid hardening and cyber security, and smart home and cities programs.
The relationship with EIP aligns with FirstEnergy's pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, with an interim goal of achieving a 30% reduction in greenhouse gases within the company's direct operational control by 2030.
Steven E. Strah, President and CEO, FirstEnergy: "Over the course of our five-year commitment to EIP, FirstEnergy will have opportunities for early access to the cutting-edge technology and solutions being developed that will help us prepare the grid of the future and enable our customers to live more sustainably. Rather than having to develop a new product or program on our own, we can jumpstart the process by implementing a pilot program or partnership using technology from an EIP portfolio company to assess potential customer benefits before deploying on a wider scale."
EIP Fund II already has made investments in several technology companies that have the potential to accelerate the transition to a sustainable energy future, including a utility-scale battery storage integrator, an EV charging provider, and a multi-family smart home automation platform. FirstEnergy is in the process of reviewing the EIP Fund II portfolio companies to determine those that could be a good fit for future testing and deployment.
This marks FirstEnergy's second investment with EIP. In July, FirstEnergy became a partner in EIP's Elevate Future Fund, which is focused on expanding venture capital access and opportunities for underrepresented sustainable energy entrepreneurs. To date, the fund has made investments in several promising startup companies, including a web-based platform for on-demand repair of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and a youth transportation solution for schools, government agencies and families.
FirstEnergy's investments in EIP funds were coordinated through the company's Emerging Technologies organization, which is developing an internal culture of innovation on many levels to explore and research technologies that provide cost-effective value for customers.
Some of the current FirstEnergy emerging technology programs include:
- EV Driven electric vehicle pilot program in Maryland – FirstEnergy's Potomac Edison utility is facilitating this five-year test program, which includes installing 59 public charging stations, including 20 fast-chargers, across its Maryland territory and is designed to benefit the state's environment by reducing auto emissions.
- Battery storage projects in Maryland – Potomac Edison has received approval from the Maryland Public Service Commission to install two battery storage projects, including one that is paired with a new EV fast-charging station.
- Memberships in the Electric Highway Coalition and the Alliance for Transportation Electrification – These groups are committed to expanding the use of all types of transportation electrification options.
- A proposed EV program in New Jersey – If approved by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, the program would offer incentives and rate structures to support the development of EV charging infrastructure throughout the service territory of Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L), a FirstEnergy utility.
- Transmission system investment program to connect offshore wind in New Jersey – JCP&L's proposal to connect the renewable energy generated by New Jersey's planned offshore wind farms through new transmission infrastructure is designed to help power the grid while minimizing the impact on the environment and communities.
- Utility-scale solar generation in West Virginia – FirstEnergy subsidiaries Mon Power and Potomac Edison have filed a proposal with the West Virginia Public Service Commission to build five utility-scale solar energy projects throughout the utilities' West Virginia service territory. Together, the facilities would generate 50 megawatts of clean, renewable energy to help make West Virginia more attractive for business development.
FirstEnergy is dedicated to integrity, safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its ten electric distribution companies form one of the nation's largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. The company's transmission subsidiaries operate approximately 24,000 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions.