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Energy Boost: Upstart TS Conductor Nabs $25M

San Clemente’s TS Conductor Corp. believes a key technology element of the electricity grid, nearly 100 years old, is more than overdue for an update.

The company, founded in 2018, is the maker of a new type of carbon composite cores that, when combined with aluminum, form conductors that it says can be used to transmit and distribute electricity around the world at a much higher efficiency than the norm for the utility industry.

While the electricity generation segment of the energy industry has progressed to cleaner and more efficient solutions, the overhead conductor technology used by transmission and distribution grid operators has not materially changed since the emergence of Aluminum Core Steel Reinforced or ACSR cables in 1908, according to the company.

ACSR today represents over 95% of the utility cables deployed across the world.

TS Conductor says its product addresses numerous issues associated with the legacy infrastructure used by utilities, such as safety and reliability of the operator’s high-voltage power lines.

Its conductors are also expected to be increasingly used by renewable energy developers.

“Our mission is to make electricity networks greener. TS achieves that through a combination of energy efficiency and faster and cheaper renewable integration,” said Jason Huang, co-founder and CEO of TS Conductor.

The upstart company—TS stands for Total Solution—has gained big-name backers that have bought into its vision.

TS Conductor said Nov. 16 it raised $25 million in an oversubscribed seed round of financing.

“Our investors believe this is a game-changing technology,” Huang told the Business Journal. “We have global patents so we can make this a multibillion-dollar company. We’re talking about transforming an industry stuck in the past for too long. The need is imminent and massive.”

The Series A round was led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, National Grid Partners and a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, among others.

The funding will be used to build a manufacturing plant in the United States; a specific location has not yet been disclosed.

Bill Gates Backing

“Transmission is fundamentally important to our climate mission, yet it has seen limited innovation over the years,” according to Carmichael Roberts, an executive member of Breakthrough Energy.

The fund was founded by Bill Gates and counts more than $2 billion in committed capital for emerging energy firms.

“It is rare to find a transmission technology like TS Conductor with as much potential in terms of deployability, cost and efficiency,” Roberts said at the time of the funding’s announcement.

CTC Ties

The company’s technology is based on Huang’s patented conductor design. The conductors can be installed with the same tools and operating procedures as ACSR cables, according to the company.

They can be used for high-voltage power line reconductoring, energy efficiency upgrades, and building new power lines with lower structure costs, according to the company, whose founding team counts ties to another area power conductor firm, Irvine’s CTC Global.

According to Huang’s LinkedIn page, while serving at CEO and chief technology officer at CTC, he helped boost its revenue to nearly $40 million. He and other TS Conductor founders left the Irvine company near the end of 2016; there has been subsequent litigation between the founders and CTC, with accusations of trade theft and wrongful termination. 

Audrey Kemp
Audrey Kemp
Audrey Kemp is a staff reporter and occasional photojournalist for the Orange County Business Journal. Her beats include — but are not limited to — healthcare, startups, and education. While pursuing her bachelors in literary journalism at UC Irvine, she interned for New York-based magazine Narratively Inc., wrote for Costa Mesa-based lifestyle magazine Locale, and covered the underground music scene for two SoCal-based music publications. She is an unwavering defendant of the emdash and the Oxford comma.
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