Founder Story

PXiSE: The Grid’s New Operating System

PXiSE may be hard to pronounce (It’s ‘Pice’...like ‘Spice’...without the S), but our story is simple: PXiSE was founded by utility engineers who were convinced there was a better way to manage the increasingly complex grid of the 21st century. Those same utility engineers still run PXiSE today, working with utilities and developers across America and around the world to make their grids cleaner, more resilient, and more responsive.

Back in 2015, PXiSE founder Patrick Lee was Vice President of Infrastructure and Technology at Sempra Energy, following a 33-year career as a power engineer working for small and large power companies in California. He had a hunch that real-time data, combined with artificial intelligence (AI), could be leveraged to help utilities manage the increasing number of distributed energy resources, such as wind, solar, and batteries, that were coming online every year.

Patrick began working with Charles Wells, an expert on power system controls who was then at OSIsoft, to test whether that hunch was valid and what such a control system might look like. The pair spent close to a year of their free time doing calculations and running simulations that proved that data gathered in real-time from existing grid sensors could also be used to instantly measure and control grid conditions.

They then turned to Raymond de Callafon of the University of California, San Diego, to build a software-based controller that could use AI to make decisions on its own, moving the industry away from the hands-on adjustments required by traditional grid management systems.

In early 2017, Patrick, Charles, Raymond, and a small team of engineers traveled to test their grid operating system on a 21 MW wind farm and battery storage facility in Hawaii.

With a startup’s budget, they used off-the-shelf equipment, including a standard PC running a digital simulator model. Their control system smoothed the inherent power fluctuations of the wind farm via real-time dispatch from the battery storage facility, greatly enhancing the wind farm’s reliability.

Testing complete, they brought their solution home, creating a microgrid in Sempra Energy’s high-rise headquarters building in downtown San Diego. The controller optimized the use of the building’s electric-vehicle chargers, solar panels, and storage batteries. It also reduced reliance on grid power in the late afternoon and early evening, when demand and prices typically spiked. This shift quickly reduced the building’s utility bill by 20% – clearly proving their original theory.

PXiSE was created by utility engineers to help utilities better leverage clean energy resources, save money, and enable their grids to respond rapidly to maintain maximum uptime, even in the face of changing weather and climate conditions. We’ve come a long way, but our motivation remains the same. Since that first homerun, PXiSE has put in place an experienced leadership team {link to leadership page} and expanded our grid control product line {link to solutions page}. We’ve delivered more than 1 GW of projects across 3 continents and 7 countries, helping our clients around the globe reach their grid management and climate goals.

That’s our story. Tell us yours.