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Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Startup Spotlight: WhyGrene Inc.

The Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator is in its third year with 10 startups from Alabama, other states and even other countries. Alabama NewsCenter is putting a spotlight on all the companies in the 2022 class.

In this Startup Spotlight, we look at WhyGrene Inc.

Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator 2022: WhyGrene Inc. from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Company: WhyGrene Inc.

Company hometown: Seattle, Washington

Leadership: Founder and CEO Patrick Phelps, CTO Miles Olszko, software lead James Kempf, director Mani Vadari, legal director Todd Phelps, advisers Craig Brauff and David Liddle

Alabama NewsCenter: What is your company’s overall focus and mission?

Patrick Phelps: WhyGrene’s energy trading platform helps accelerate sustainable energy transition by balancing the supply and demand of power. We enable utilities and their users to get the most value from energy resources, including solar, wind, batteries, electric vehicles and smart thermostats. For users, our Energy Exchange utilizes artificial intelligence to buy energy at the lowest cost from solar and wind, then resell stored energy with batteries and electric vehicles at the right time to create the best return on investment (ROI). Through an easy-to-use smartphone app, users can enroll their devices, set their preferences and receive bill credits in real time. This helps utilities to make renewable energy more reliable and affordable for their entire community.

ANC: What inspired you to start this company? How do you want to contribute to the future of energy and tech?

Patrick Phelps is founder and CEO of WhyGrene Inc. (Michael Tomberlin / Alabama NewsCenter)

Phelps: I started WhyGrene because, even as I saw solar and wind farms getting installed, I knew that the intermittent supply of electricity from renewable sources did not match up with society’s demand for power. The sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow when we need to power our homes and factories. This power supply and demand imbalance varies the price of electricity from 7.5 cents to 27.5 cents per kilowatt-hour in Alabama during the summer and from 10 cents up to $2 per kilowatt-hour in California.

I realized that if utilities could automatically buy and sell energy with their users’ solar, batteries and electric vehicles at critical times, the supply and demand of power could be balanced, resulting in minimized outages and price increases. At the same time, customers could profit by charging their batteries when electricity was least expensive and then selling it back to the grid when electricity was most expensive. This seemed like a tremendous win-win opportunity that only needed the right team to make it a reality.

ANC: What attracted you to the Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator?

Phelps: We joined the Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator so we could learn from Techstars, Alabama Power and Southern Company. The direct experience of working with one of the largest utilities in the country was an opportunity worth packing up and driving across the country for. Techstars Alabama will help us go from proof of concept to commercialization faster and make an impact at a critical moment for the future viability of sustainable energy. The world will continue to need more energy and we want to help make sure that renewables can be used in a mutually beneficial way for both utilities and their users.

ANC: What is the No. 1 thing you would like potential investors to understand about your company?

Phelps: Our Energy Exchange software is the marketplace to buy and sell all forms of energy and Renewable Energy Credits with one platform, unlike competitors who often are limited to one or the other. There will always be new sources of power production, storage and consumption, but there will always be a need to buy and sell energy in real time.

ANC: What takeaways do you hope to gain for your company by taking part in the Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator?

Phelps: We want to learn how to help utilities work with their customers to optimize the use of renewable energy for the good of all. Having the opportunity to work directly with Alabama Power means we can better understand the challenges utilities face with solar plus batteries, adapting to the increase in electric vehicles and charging stations and, most importantly, providing reliable and affordable energy to their customers.

ANC: What is your opinion of Birmingham so far?

Phelps: Birmingham is a hub for innovation with lots of startups relocating here because of Techstars and Alabama Power. Seattle has some of the most successful startups in the world and even a Techstars program but Birmingham plus Alabama Power’s support of entrepreneurs brought us down here. We drove over 40 hours from Seattle to Birmingham and it was worth it to join Techstars Alabama EnergyTech, plus all of the great BBQ!

You can find WhyGrene Inc. online at and on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Alabama NewsCenter is highlighting the 2022 Class of startups participating in the Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator. Learn more about Techstars here.