Business & Real Estate

Los Altos-based PowerFlex merges with EDF Renewables

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Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High School has 26 PowerFlex Systems electric-vehicle charging stations.

The Los Altos-based PowerFlex Systems – which installs electric-vehicle charging stations with adaptive charging network technology in the community – was recently acquired by international company EDF Renewables, whose North American headquarters is in San Diego.

The merger was completed in August; the seven employees at PowerFlex Systems have remained with the company on First Street in downtown Los Altos.

George Lee founded PowerFlex Systems four years ago, using technology he helped develop at the California Institute of Technology “to solve the lack of EV charging for our campus,” he said.

PowerFlex Systems has already made an impact on a local scale, with hundreds of charging stations installed in and around Los Altos – including at local schools.

“We really like to help out the community, the teachers and the staff especially,” Lee said. “Three years ago, there were only two teachers who had EVs, and now it’s 20-plus, so it’s been quite a big change.”

The change aligns with EDF Renewables’ goal of providing and increasing the use of green energy, according to Raphael Declercq, executive vice president for distributed solutions and strategies for EDF Renewables North America.

“Our mission is to deliver renewables solutions to lead the transition to a sustainable energy future,” Declercq said.

Declercq added that EDF Renewables first came across PowerFlex due to its interest in the sector of electrification of transportation – particularly in California. PowerFlex stood out for its pioneering technology and business model of developing software while also deploying hardware, as well as its closeness to EDF’s Los Altos-based innovation lab, he said.

According to Declercq, EDF Renewables scouted the California electric transportation market because of the state’s historic initiative in implementing large-scale sustainable energy, such as being one of the first places to use wind energy.

“There are so many things that California is doing ahead of the rest of the world,” he said. “In general, California has a very strong culture of innovation but also a political climate that is favorable to environmental protection.”

In the new equity ownership, EDF Renewables will aid PowerFlex in creating the addition of solar carports to pair with charging stations so that customers can charge their vehicles at work or school during the day, Declercq noted.

“PowerFlex is trying to solve the California duck curve, a problem when there is too much solar generation on the grid,” Lee said. “We are trying to take that excess energy and absorb it into EVs, which helps the grid.”

In addition, EDF Renewables will enable the product to reach more corporate customers.

“PowerFlex has been excellent with schools and universities and municipalities, and now the relationships we bring can allow PowerFlex to serve some tech companies that are in Silicon Valley or some industrial companies in the LA area, for example,” Declercq said. “We have those relationships with other businesses, so we will allow connections to be made.”

He added that there are no plans to move PowerFlex out of Los Altos; EDF Renewables instead “plans to grow, and some of that growth will happen in the Los Altos area.”

Eventually, the company hopes to expand its reach to other areas of California, and possibly other states, according to Declercq.

“(Silicon Valley is) an area of California with a lot of potential, but PowerFlex has the potential to serve other parts of California very well, and that’s the plan,” he said. “In the LA area and the San Diego area, there is also some short-term potential, and then in the future, we at EDF have a national presence, so there could be some opportunities opening up on the other coast.”

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