The downturn’s favorite cleantech funding play strikes again: energy efficiency, and particularly information technology-based tools that can cut energy in the industrial and commercial markets. The sector sure wasn’t hot last summer when solar and biofuels were all the rage. This morning, Powerit Solutions, a company that sells energy efficiency and demand management tools to industry, says it has raised $6 million from the venture arm of systems management heavyweight Siemens as well as steel company ArcelorMittal’s Clean Technology Fund, @Ventures and Expansion Capital Partners. The company raised a Series A of $7.1 million in May 2007.
Industrial and commercial companies use about a third of the world’s electricity. Powerit thinks its combo of wireless sensor networks and energy management software can put a dent in that consumption, and help encourage industry to work with utilities for demand response events — where a utility can control the energy consumption of a company in exchange for compensation. Powerit President Bob Zak told us last year that “the biggest barrier to industry actually participating in demand response events is that they don’t have the infrastructure in place.”
Utilities are actively seeking more demand response customers to work with their programs, and Powerit has been working with California utility PG&E to offer an incentives package to industrial customers. Last year, produce processor Guadalupe Cooling Co. bought a $250,000 energy management system from Powerit and received a grant from PG&E. Zak told us that by using the state incentives, the energy management was “100 percent paid for upon installation.” It’s not always going to be that easy in all states, but it will be getting a lot easier with all the stimulus funding flowing to states for energy-efficiency projects.