Think a monthly cell phone is confusing? Try figuring out a commercial energy bill for a large organization like a school, business or even a hospital.
Higher charges during peak usage and other fees may have customers seeing red, but Arista Power in Rochester believes its Power on Demand system can help.
Its patent-pending system stores energy and releases it when it is needed, helping to avoid avoiding peak usage and other fees.
We connected recently with Mark Matthews of Arista Power to find out where the energy is stored and why his role includes so much education.
Less than 20 percent of customers we talk to fully understand:
The demand charges and how they are calculated. Much of our role is educating customers about how they are charged for energy.
The Power on Demand system stores power: From two locations – the renewable energy connected to the system and the off-peak grid power. The power is released when the customer is experiencing its monthly peak demand.
My first year at Arista Power was: Challenging. We had to develop the entire company from the ground up, with no history or previous work to fall back on. Much of the first year was dedicated to creating products that provide the best payback in the renewable energy sector. We spent a lot of time working to build a brand with a positive reputation and also building a business model that would be sustainable as we grow.
In the early days of Arista Power: We were focused on delivering straight renewable energy solutions to our customers. As I continued to try to provide solutions to the larger commercial businesses, I saw that if we could arbitrage the renewable energy that we generated to effect customer demand charges, the return on investment was cut in one-third or more in many cases. At the same time, we were working on micro-grid solutions for the US Army to replace diesel generators with renewable power and energy storage. We then combined the commercial customer needs with a scaled up version of our Army project and the Power on Demand system was born.
As with any startup: Establishing a presence in the market such that customers are confident to place large orders with us is a constant challenge that becomes easier with each win.
I believe that being awarded: The Intelligent Micro-Grid contract with the U.S. Army Communication Electronic Research and Development and Engineering Command earlier this year was our biggest success.
Renewable energy projects: Combined with energy management can have a real effect on the operating costs of local companies. Educating people on how they use power – not just how much they use – greatly affects the utility bottom line.
Interacting with customers: And learning about their businesses is my favorite part of the job.
As a small company: We have limited human resources. Ensuring that the entire staff is aligned with our ongoing priorities is critical to our ongoing success.
Article by Jinelle Shengulette, Photograph by Kris J. Murante, DemocratandChronicle.com