50 Smartest Companies of the Year 2019

Safeguarding Business from Blackouts and Rising Utility Costs through Creating Microgrids and Sustainable Resiliency: DR Microgrid


“We focus on being great for the PEOPLE and PLANET.”

For a long time, microgrids and nanogrids were heralded for their ability to provide power locally when the grid goes down. Now, more and more, they win friends because of their intelligent usefulness. Microgrids and nanogrids — as well as virtual power plants — are increasingly employed to undertake sophisticated management of energy resources beyond their footprint. They serve not just as local energy, but as grid resources.

Given the preceding, we’re delighted to present DR Microgrid

DR Microgrid protects businesses from blackouts and rising utility costs creating Microgrids! The company takes advantage of specialized incentives and revenue through demand response and aggregates its customer base to sell energy back to the grid. It has combined Reduction, Generation, and Over-sized battery storage systems, creating resilience and energy independence. DR Microgrid operates within utility incentive programs designed to cut demand charges. The firm is focused on the SMB market specializing in manufacturing, industrial, school, hospital, municipal, retail, hospitality and hotel, and multifamily buildings.

The company was founded in 2019 and is headquartered in Santa Ana, California.

In conversation with AJ Perkins, President DR Microgrid

What was the reason behind the genesis of DR Microgrid?

In September of 2018, Jigar Shah told me that he needed help building microgrids because the utilities were going to shut off the grid up to 30 times in 2019. He said that his company, Generate Capital was willing to pay for all of these microgrids to be installed to help protect businesses from these Public Safety Power Shutoffs. We put together a Microgrid solution that could be easy to understand, finance and deploy with a focus on the Small-Mid Size Business (SMB) market.

In May 2019, we attended Microgrid Knowledge Conference 2019 in San Diego, where it was evident that there was a big need for a residential solution to help protect families against the growing Public Safety Power Shutoffs problem that would be affecting the state of California in the upcoming months. We designed this solution for solar installers around the country to integrate a microgrid/nanogrid into an existing solar system with an upcoming white paper to follow.

In this modern business world, what do you exactly mean by “A Smart Company”?

As the market and needs began to take shape, we realized that we are nimble and intuitive and decided to be in front of the market that would be created. We saw that market boundaries were blurred and decided to change the industry structure, taking a page from W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne’s Blue Ocean Strategy. We created a business environment with the pursuit of differentiation and efficiency (lower cost) to open up a new market space and create demand without competition.

What challenges did you face in your initial start? What can your peers learn from it?

We expected organic growth as we went to the market, but the need was so great that we were concerned that our success could be our downfall. We needed capital to finance projects and the company’s growth and it continued to grow at an astounding pace. We needed to reassess our strategy and began putting the financial stability of our company at the forefront and began crafting a more deliberate approach to customer acquisition.

As this began to solidify, our new problem was, “the market and opportunity were too big, and we need help”. Businesses needed our solution and we couldn’t build our team fast enough. We decided to create more strategic partnerships. We get our solution out, our partner gives their customers a new resilient system and the customer gets what they need from the people they are familiar with.

Is your company a ‘leader’ or a ‘follower’? Do you formulate your own core values?

We are a leader that has learned from many of the greats. In designing DR Microgrid, we saw an opportunity to take a complex microgrid, simplify it and created a standardized solution that can be easy to finance and easy to deploy in scale. We then took this repeatable solution and created a unique way to patent our process.

We have built this company with the triple bottom line as the focus of how we serve the people and grow our company:

  • We commit to doing our best work for the PEOPLE, those on our team, our partners and those we serve.
  • We commit to protecting the PLANET with the best products, technologies, and resources available.
  • We know that if we succeed in the first 2 P’s, we will inevitably increase PROFITS, so we focus on being great for the PEOPLE and PLANET.

What are the factors that make your brand one of the SMARTEST and why?

The Latin term “Nanos gigantum humeris insidentes” expresses the meaning of “discovering truth by building on previous discoveries”. All progress begins with the truth and we have taken previous discoveries that have traditionally been complex and complicated and we have created a standardized design. With this standard microgrid design, we are able to reduce design and construction costs and can build microgrids that are 30% cheaper and installed and operating in half the time of a “piecemeal” or non-standardized solution.

Do you have any new products ready to be launched?

Customers have proven over and over again that they aren’t particularly interested in paying cash for solar installations for their roofs and don’t want to go to the work of keeping track of energy assets like solar or energy storage in the home. This opens up the potential for a larger list of energy-as-a-service offerings for solar for customers. Pair solar with energy storage, demand response, and EV charging and it may be the start of a real transition to renewable energy for millions of people.