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Powerit Seeks Scale with $5M Investment, New CEO

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Powerit Solutions, a big behind-the-scenes player in energy controls and demand response, has raised $5 million and landed a new CEO, tech entrepreneur Matt Schiltz. Can the former DocuSign CEO do for building energy controls what he previously did for electronic signatures?

That’s not an exact analogy, of course. Powerit’s building energy management technology — controls and networks to link big power loads to in-house and smart grid-enabled demand response and power pricing systems — connect about 260 MW of industrial and commercial loads today. But that requires some complex installation, and is hardly as easy to scale as a software platform for getting legal signatures online.

Still, Powerit’s new CEO and new funding round, led by new investor Black Coral Capital, do lay the groundwork for new markets and partnerships, company president Bob Zak said Tuesday. While Zak wouldn’t give many details, he said the Seattle-based company is looking at embedding its systems in big industrial machines like furnace makers  and other heavy manufacturing gear, as well as partnering with building controls giants like Honeywell (s HON), Johnson Controls (s JCI) and Powerit investor Siemens (s SI).

Powerit’s core platform links complicated industrial and commercial building controls to broader networks, tracking equipment efficiency and shifting power prices to keep load within limits, spot maintenance problems and deliver load-reduction for demand response or variable pricing. It’s being used in facilities in the U.S. and Scandinavia, and it’s also being used by U.S. demand response leader EnerNOC (s ENOC) and others to control energy to shave peak demand or take advantage of shifting power prices.

The company has raised a Series A round of $7.1 million in May 2007 and a $6 million Series B round in 2009 from Siemens, steel company ArcelorMittal’s Clean Technology Fund, @Ventures and Expansion Capital Partners, which also participated in the latest round.

Recently, Powerit has been moving beyond its core industrial business to link up commercial buildings, and is working on some unnamed partnerships that could see its system deployed to link multiple properties together, Zak told me. Powerit doesn’t work as a demand response provider, but makes the technology that enables reliable powering-down of megawatts, Zak said. (For more on emerging technology for commercial sector demand response, read my report at GigaOm Pro, subscription required.)

Powerit could find another route to partners through its work on OpenADR, an emerging standard for automating demand response. The company makes a client device that interfaces with OpenADR servers from the likes of Akuacom (now owned by Honeywell), and is using OpenADR signals to turn down power for clients in California and elsewhere, Zak said.

At the same time, Powerit is working with an unnamed manufacturing partner to embed its controls directly in the massive machines that melt metal in industrial furnaces, he said. Heavy industrial devices like these use a ton of power, and building in controls to manage them could make them easier targets for energy reductions, both to save energy and to participate in demand response for extra cash.

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Image courtesy of Mrlins via Creative Commons license.