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On-site energy efficiency company Powerit gets funding

Energy efficiency technology to manage peak demand attracts more clean tech investment.

Powerit Solutions, a company that does automated energy efficiency systems, said on Thursday that it has secured $7.1 million in financing.

The series A round included $3 million from @Ventures, along with $3 million from Expansion Capital Partners, with the balance coming from existing investors.

Although not as high profile as solar or wind power, energy efficiency companies--sometimes referred to as "negawatt" suppliers--have proven to be good investments in the current clean tech boom. Two energy efficiency companies--EnerNoc and Comverge--went public earlier this year.

Powerit differs from what those two companies do, which is help utilities reduce peak demand--the points during the day of the highest power consumption.

The Seattle-based company does so-called demand management products, specifically for industrial facilities like factories. The technology, which is a combination of hardware and software, is designed to automatically dial down energy usage at facilities to save money on peak-demand charges.

For example, the system could turn off a fan or a pump for few minutes to reduce power consumption. The software lets site operators set rules so that turning off or dialing down equipment won't impact production of, say, a factory, or damage equipment, said Bob Zak, president of Powerit.

Combined, these measures can have a big impact, particularly on peak demand charges--the fee levied by utilities on commercial customers for their high-capacity power consumption, Zak said. The company's system is able to reduce peak demand charges between 10 and 40 percent which can be between 7 and 15 percent of the overall electricity bill, he said.

Peak demand charges, which are separate from consumption fees, can be significant--up to 35 percent of the total bill, said Zak. Utilities, looking to even out there power generation and distribution over the course of the day, provide incentives to customers to reduce peak demand because meeting those peaks often means bringing back-up generators online.

"It's as if you had a pedometer (to measure consumption) but also a speedometer to see what your fastest speed is," he said. "Peak is the highest level (of power) utility has available to you."

Powerit's software can automate the process of reducing demand at the optimal moments for several pieces of equipment which already have controls on them. It also has a system to put wireless controls on equipment, Zak said.

The $7.1 million will be used to expand sales and marketing his will as product development, he said.