How Gridium is making sense of energy data

There will be petabytes of smart meter data emerging in the coming years, which means there will be a growing need for new tools to analyze and make sense of all that data. A new startup called Gridium, which launched a couple months ago and is co-led by energy entrepreneur Tom Arnold, has developed software that can help industrial and commercial building owners tap into smart meter data to help lower their energy bills.

Arnold, who previously was the CEO of carbon offset startup TerraPass and led EnerNOC’s (s ENOC) move into energy efficiency, tells me in an exclusive interview that Gridium has recently raised a $1 million Series A round of funding from investors including Navitas Capital and private individuals like Cleantech Group’s CEO Sheeraz Haji. Gridium will use the new funds to ramp up sales of its first product and build out its engineering team.

Gridium is opting for a sort of low-tech product initially: email. Gridium’s SnapMeter product crunches smart meter data, as well as available weather data, and sends an email alert to industrial and commercial building owner customers when they are about to get hit with high charges, like a high monthly “demand charge.” Large users of electricity have to pay a demand charge to have the right to have energy capacity available — it’s essentially paying the utility for part of the infrastructure — and it’s calculated by the maximum demand during the month.

SnapMeter can send an email alert to the building owner so that they can tweak their energy consumption to stay below a certain demand charge level. Arnold says that SnapMeter can reduce a building owner’s energy bill by three to five percent.

Gridium gets the energy data from the utilities’ online site, so there isn’t hardware that needs to be installed. It’s a capital efficient model, says Arnold. Gridium is offering SnapMeter for $50 per meter per month, as well as a free one-month trial. Because of the per monthly rate, Gridium says the first report can often pay back on the investment.

The company plans to offer other products down the road. The email-first approach I think is interesting because I’ve seen so many companies try to provide overly-detailed energy dashboards and analytics to building managers, with the idea that more is always better. In many cases it’s not — the data overload needs more and better filters.

Arnold says Gridium is already managing data from 100 smart meters from industrial and commercial building owners — generally there’s one to two meters per large building. Commercial real estate is a big sector for SnapMeter, says Arnold.

Gridium is an example of essentially an app that is being built on top of smart meter data. Once the smart meter data is being used as a platform (think Green Button) then the real innovation can occur in the analytics and services. Other companies building businesses around managing energy data include Opower, Tendril, Simple Energy, EcoFactor, EnergyHub and many more.