(Corrects paragraph 5 to say Vector is the second-largest private shareholder in mPrest after OurCrowd, not the second largest shareholder behind state-owned company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems)
By Steven Scheer
JERUSALEM, Oct 30 (Reuters) - New Zealand energy utility Vector Ltd said on Monday it has taken a minority stake in a software firm that has adapted its system to manage Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system to managing electricity grids.
Vector, New Zealand’s largest energy distributor, has paid about $10 million for the stake in the Israeli firm mPrest, which has been applying its technology to commercial uses.
Earlier this year Vector became a customer of mPrest to use its Internet of Energy monitoring, control and data analytics software and wants to develop it to give consumers more control over their electricity usage.
“If we are going to develop something that is going to change the way we do things then why shouldn’t we share in the fruits?” Vector Chairman Michael Stiassny told Reuters after a news conference.
He said Vector will become the second largest private shareholder in mPrest behind crowdfunding investor OurCrowd. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the state-owned defence contractor, owns 50 percent of mPrest.
Vector said it also has options to raise its stake in mPrest.
Stiassny said the software, which uses analytics to monitor the power grid’s performance and feed-in resources such as solar and wind power generation, will serve Auckland’s population of 1.4 million but he also hopes to eventually use it to be able to sell energy to other parts of New Zealand and to Australia.
“We need to move from a distributor to a place where the consumer has all the keys,” Stiassny said.
“Using this type of platform we can now put everything that we think the consumer can want onto the platform and be able to engage with us. If we look to the future we will see consumers trading electricity using our platform.”
Founded in 2000, mPrest developed software to manage complex networks, such as a command and control system for Israel’s Iron Dome.
Other investors in mPrest include OurCrowd, GE Ventures , Angeleno Group, and Israel Electric Corp.
The software “turns an old fashioned electric grid to something ultra modern” where it can more easily manage peaks in electricity demand,” said Jon Medved, chief of executive of OurCrowd.
The New York Power Authority became a customer of mPrest this year. (Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Greg Mahlich)