Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Tech Companies And Nonprofits Announce Project To Make Community First! Village The World’s First Community Powered By Crowdsourced Energy

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Austin's Mayor, leading Central Texas technology companies -- including Gridmates, a visionary startup addressing energy poverty, and nonprofits focused on sustainability are announcing a campaign to create the world’s first community powered by crowdsourced energy. Gridmates is the first Internet platform designed to eliminate energy poverty by enabling peer-to-peer energy sharing.

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To share energy with Community First! Village -- a first step in addressing the global issue of energy poverty, visit www.mlf.org/gridmates

We're leveraging technology to make sure everyone has access to basic resources such as electricity. Our vision is to empower people with the ability to share a small amount of energy with those in need, anywhere, anytime.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler, leading Central Texas technology companies – including Gridmates, a visionary startup addressing energy poverty, and nonprofits focused on sustainability, today are announcing a campaign to generate donations of electricity for powering Community First! Village during its initial year of operation. The campaign will create the world’s first community powered by crowdsourced energy and help improve quality of life for village residents. Click here now to donate energy.

Scheduled to open in Spring 2015, Community First! Village is a 27-acre master-planned community in Southeast Austin that will provide affordable, sustainable housing and a supportive community for approximately 240 disabled, chronically homeless people. The village is a project of Mobile Loaves & Fishes, a social outreach ministry that provides food and clothing and promotes dignity to homeless people in Central Texas.

Mobile Loaves & Fishes and Austin startup, Gridmates, are facilitating the energy sharing campaign benefitting Community First! Village. Gridmates is the world’s first Internet platform designed to eliminate energy poverty by enabling peer-to-peer energy sharing. Energy poverty occurs when people cannot afford to pay for electricity and other utilities.

Sponsors for the campaign include: CLEAResult, one of the nation’s leading energy efficiency consulting firms; Silicon Labs, which provides semiconductor, software and system solutions for the global electronics industry; and Itron, a world-leading technology and services company dedicated to the resourceful use of energy and water. Supporters include Mayor Adler, Angelou Economics, CleanTX, CMG, Energy Thought Summit, Net Impact Austin and Annies Cafe & Bar.

“There is no better place to begin solving energy poverty than in our own backyards – in the cities and towns where we live alongside people who need our help, in this case, Central Texans who are rebuilding their lives,” said Dr. George Koutitas, Founder and CEO, Gridmates. “Leveraging technology to make sure everyone has access to basic resources such as electricity is just the right thing to do so we are thrilled to be a part of this project. Our vision is to empower people with the ability to share a small amount of energy with those in need, anywhere and anytime.”

Community First! Village needs electricity to power 240 micro-homes, RVs and canvas tents, outdoor kitchens, restrooms, laundry facilities, a sanctuary, a hospitality center, a medical office, an outdoor theatre and an operations building. The village’s first-year electricity costs are estimated to be $213,000, or about $895 per resident.

Donating energy through the Gridmates platform is as simple as a few mouse clicks on a computer or pressing a couple of buttons on a smart phone. Gridmates also provides energy savings tips so anyone who gives electricity can offset the cost of his/her donation. To donate, go to Mobile Loaves & Fishes’ website and click on “Donate Energy.” A donor can send energy as a guest or by using his own energy sharing dashboard if he registers to become a “Gridmate.” Even small donations can make a big difference. For example:

  • $10 funds a village resident’s energy needs for more than five days.
  • $20 pays for electricity to heat or cool one resident’s living space for a month.
  • $40 covers daily electricity for the laundry rooms so residents always have clean clothing.
  • $50 is the cost for running the bathhouses every day so everyone can take a hot shower.

“Having energy donated to the village means so much to those of us who will live there,” said Ellis, who was homeless, hungry and alone in the world until he connected with Mobile Loaves & Fishes. .“Not having to figure out how we’ll come up with money every month for electricity is one less thing we have to worry about at a time when we’re working hard to get our lives back on track.”

Mobile Loaves & Fishes founder, President and CEO, Alan Graham, says that by enabling the energy sharing campaign, Gridmates is doing even more than helping the village cover a major expense in its first year. “Gridmates also is having a halo effect by bringing in more corporate and nonprofit partners – getting more folks to dive in and work with us,” said Graham. “This alone is very powerful and will have a profound impact."

Austin's Mayor Adler also praised the campaign. “Projects like Gridmates’ energy sharing campaign help make Austin the special place it is,” said the mayor. “Our city is a breeding ground for visionary, new companies developing products and services to create a better world. We also have a lot of locally based industry leaders and nonprofits that are always willing to jump on board when a great cause arises. That’s a winning formula for building and sustaining a strong, interesting and vibrant community.”

About Community First! Village

A program of Mobile Loaves & Fishes, Community First! Village is a 27-acre, master-planned community in Northeast Austin that will provide affordable, sustainable housing and a supportive community for approximately 240 disabled, chronically homeless men and women in Central Texas. This first-of-its-kind village will radically transform and renew the community as homeless men and women are lifted up from the streets and into a permanent home and caring community. For more information, visit http://mlf.org/community-first.

About Mobile Loaves & Fishes

Mobile Loaves & Fishes is a social outreach ministry that empowers communities into a lifestyle of service with the homeless. The ministry’s mission is to provide food and clothing and promote dignity to homeless people in need through three core programs: Community First! , ROADS Micro-Enterprise and our Truck Communities. For more information, visit, http://www.mlf.org.

About Gridmates

Gridmates is the first Internet platform designed to eliminate energy poverty by enabling peer-to-peer energy sharing. The Austin-based company offers a unique ecosystem by connecting utilities, corporations, nonprofits and utility customers. Gridmates’ transactive energy solution empowers individuals and corporations to share units of energy (kWh) with people and organizations in need. Utilities around the world can use Gridmates to provide add-on services to low-income households and increase service offerings. Gridmates was a 2014 SXSW Eco finalist in the “Cleanweb” category and is a finalist in the “New Economy” category of the 2015 SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards. In January 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Catalyst program selected Gridmates to receive government support for further product development. For more information, visit http://www.gridmates.com.

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Susan Tull
Gridmates
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Dr. George Koutitas, Founder & CEO
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