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Using Black Power to Transform Underserved Communities

When Brand LA got involved in the first SoCal BlackTech Express Accelerator that the Consulate General of Canada in Los Angeles Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) launched in 2022, we were curious about the journeys of the Canadian startups that were selected for the inaugural program. Black-led, Black-owned, and ready to make a difference; with products and services that resonate with Southern California’s way of life, our ever-evolving, GloCal consumer trends, and the needs of most metropolitan and rural areas in the country.

In conversation with the program’s cohort, we focused on the Canadian startup that is trying to get the attention of the Utility industry with a green-tech innovation that could change the fate of many underserved neighborhoods across the United States.


POWER HV—this company is proposing to install transformer monitoring sensors to help reduce the risk of fires in the most wildfire-vulnerable communities.


Trying to tackle one of California’s most recurrent disasters—annual wildfires and their devastating effect on people and the environment—should be on everyone’s agenda. As well as mitigating an array of serious health risks and issues that are inflicted upon the poorer areas of our rural and urban communities due to (often preventable) corporate negligence.

We met with Sizwe Dhlamini, POWER HV’s CEO, to find out more about the technical, social, and environmental implications of ignoring an innovation of this nature.


Through our conversation, we learned that the LA County Climate Vulnerability Assessment (CVA) released in October 2021 not only shows the map of areas with the highest social vulnerability to wildfires, but also details both, Physical and Social, Vulnerability Assessments.


Wildfire-generated particulate matter is linked to respiratory complications like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, bronchitis, and other infections. Wildfire smoke has been linked to cardiovascular issues, including ischemic heart disease, heart failure, and cardiac arrest. Wildfires are big contributors to air pollution. They produce large volumes of nitrogen oxides (NOx), VOCs, carbon monoxide, ozone, and black carbon. Compared to Carbon Dioxide, NOx gases are 300 times more harmful to the atmosphere in causing global warming.


So, how, exactly, could the Canadian green-tech innovation help us in the U.S., specifically, in California, and not just with wildfires?

“Research findings show that transformer bushings cause more than 70% of fires on transformers, so implementing widespread monitoring on transformers will improve the effectiveness of preemptive power shutdown (PSPS). Therefore, reducing the risk and impact of wildfires, and minimizing the damage to energy infrastructure. PSPS can especially impact communities that are dependent on power for critical needs, including people, who rely on electrically powered medical equipment, as well as rural and remote communities where power outages take more time to repair,” Mr. Dhlamini explained.

As conveners of strategic and tactical conversations, we listen to the stories of the innovators, who took their endeavors from an idea to where they are today; the motivations that led them down the intricate and often draining path of domestic and international expansion. Above all, how they’re planning to succeed by solving some of the world’s most pressing problems, or by providing services, which consumers perceive as valuable because of their community development components and more humanized purposes.


We assess how a company's growth strategy presents Marketing and evaluate their current challenges. Most importantly, we focus on their collective need to serve others, beyond just a business model and financial goals, and how they plan to offer equitable frameworks.


When looking at both sides of this solution-oriented conversation through the Marketing & Communications lens, foreign direct investment efforts that resonate with our vulnerable community’s wellbeing should be a priority, in all influential ecosystems. This is one of the reasons we support innovators through Brand LA’s programs in our region.


POWER HV is here to share a cost-effective and climate-friendly innovation with the Utility industry, and we should all pay attention. Why? Because it’s just humanitarian common sense, meaningful corporate social responsibility, and in other words, the right thing to do for the communities that need more than some are prepared to do.


Whether you’re an engineer or a CEO, these are the types of solutions your Utility company should hear about, regardless of where they come from. Meetings should happen to discover what’s possible; how to save time and money, and most importantly, how to enhance the quality of life and the health of those, who often don’t have a say in which smaller transformers big corporations put in their backyard; how, and how often, those should be monitored—ideally, in a more climate-friendly manner. Perhaps, it’s time to power smaller transformers with sensors that prevent big losses, and that’s everyone’s businesses.


In today’s world, we require, more than ever, everyone’s efforts and the collective inputs of good minds to solve crises we keep encountering—because let’s face it, sometimes, the old way of doing things gets in the way of the new way to solve problems. POWER HV is counting on visionary leaders to make their sensors part of a much-needed solution, of which no one had thought, and we now sense that some partnerships are way overdue.


Brand LA | Editorial Team