Powerit sees burgeoning demand for intelligent energy demand-response systems

OK, been a little out of it for the past several days. That little thing called my personal life got in the way.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

OK, been a little out of it for the past several days. That little thing called my personal life got in the way. But since Tuesday it was roughly 30 degrees colder than it was yesterday, I got to thinking about the pile of green tech notes here on my desk. Many of them are focused on the concept of demand response, so get ready for my little miniature series of ramblings.

First up is some information about Powerit Solutions, a Swedish provider of demand-response technology that came over to the United States around 2002 and came to my attention in late January. This wikipedia entry provides an explanation of demand response and how it works, but essentially, systems of the sort sold by Powerit help utilities and grid operators manage better in times of peak usage. The alternative is building out new power plants, an investment that most people are trying to avoid these days. Some additional white papers about demand response can be found here.

Powerit made some headlines earlier this year because of a deal that it cut with Guadalupe Cooling Company, a produce company in the Central Valley of California. Guadalupe is getting $270,000 from Pacific Gas & Electric to install one of Powerit's Energy Director Intellekt systems. The full press release on that installation can be found at this link. Powerit actually has about 600 installations worldwide.

Bob Zak, president and general manager of Powerit Solutions, said Energy Director works by monitoring a facility's systems (such as an assembly line or manufacturing line) and strategically managing when equipment is running (and when it's not). The reason this is compelling is the following: Many manufacturers that run their electricity usage in a series of spikes and valleys get hit with a peak demand charge that reflects the utility company's investment. Sometimes, this premium charge can account for up to 30 percent of a company's annual electricity bill, he says. Energy Director can help reduce those demand-based utility charges by 20 percent on average without messing with a company's productivity, he estimates. That translates into an overall reduction of between 7 percent and 15 percent in overall electricity savings.

Here's an evaluation form for you to figure out whether one of these systems is right for your company.

Guadalupe was able to install its system as a result of an incentive program being run by PG&E. The return on investment point for the equipment is somewhere between 2 months and 16 months, depending on the facility, Zak figures.

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