With energy production a priority around the globe, Scott DePasquale is focused on commercializing Utilidata’s advanced technology to make the electric grid operate more efficiently. The company’s move from Spokane, Wash., to Providence in June 2012 positions Rhode Island as a potential leader in energy technology.
The production of electricity is known as a sluggish industry with infrastructure seriously in need of updating. DePasquale has a broad vision for Utilidata, based on his national and international experience in the energy industry.
PBN: You’re a native Rhode Islander. How did your work in the energy industry evolve and take you away from Rhode Island?
DEPASQUALE: I grew up in Cranston. I moved away in the 1990s. I’ve traveled the world scouting for technologies in energy. I’ve looked at grid and utility-related efficiency technologies that could help lower the cost of energy for consumers, address environmental issues and also address national security issues with regard to our dependence on foreign oil. For a time, I traded commodities and invested in infrastructure assets for large oil companies. I was a regulator in Massachusetts. I worked for the Department of Telecommunications and Energy. In 2009, I joined Braemar, a venture-capital fund that has about $600 million under management. I joined as a partner and my job at Braemar was to develop strategic relationships with large consumers and suppliers of energy so that we could jointly invest in technologies that could be commercialized very quickly and solve energy problems related to cost, national security and the environment.
PBN: What convinced you that Utilidata was a promising company?
DEPASQUALE: One of our partners at Braemar was American Electric Power. Their headquarters is in Ohio and they are in 10 other states. They have the largest electricity transmission and distribution system in the country. They introduced us to Programmable Control Systems, the predecessor to Utilidata. This little company in Spokane was half a dozen folks who had taken digital technologies used to develop cellphones and iPods and applied them to grid automation. They did it in a way that was low-cost and reduces an enormous amount of wasted energy.