Rising investments in renewable energy brought forth an upsurge in privately owned localized power grids or microgrids that can disconnect from the traditional grid to operate autonomously. This trend saw consumers of the utility sector evolving from a passive, disengaged role to a more proactive role. The changing horizon requires the prosumers (i.e., producer and consumer) and prosumagers (i.e., producing, consuming, and managing their energy) to monitor and control different components of their microgrid system. However, integrating industry-leading utility components into a microgrid system has always been a problem. “As we were getting into distributed energy solutions, we realized there was a huge gap in the market for an agnostic solution approach to control the microgrid system,” says Aron Bowman, COO, ELM FieldSight.

Starting as an environmental risk transfer business supporting compliance issues for the utility industry, ELM has long been working in the utility grid landscape. Lee Graves, CEO, ELM FieldSight, says, “Our primary focus right now is offering control to behind the meter microgrids that sit on the customer’s side of the utility meter.” The MicroGridSite Controller, the flagship product of ELM, is developed using Dell Edge IoT Gateway, in concert with sophisticated backend architecture and communication interfaces, for intelligent asset monitoring and control. The controller leverages edge-computing technology to make decisions autonomously on how to manage power sources and myriad of other tasks like switching between solar to battery storage, regenerate power to the grid, and a combination of those, based on preset criteria. Also, the edge technology used in the controller can control not just different types of hardware that harvests renewable energy sources but also equipment made by different manufacturers. “We have built a platform-agnostic solution for the MicroGrid Site Controller that can control any power generation equipment and make it all work together,” says Bowman.

Apart from the edge component, the controller uses a cloud computing component to process all the consumer data to provide text, email, or alarm notifications to customers through secure web portals, Android, and iOS devices.

Jason Petermeier, CTO, ELM FieldSight says, “We store consumer information in the cloud and bring that information to the customer’s fingertips.” ELM does not just inform consumers about any potential issue; they have a quick response team that immediately identifies the issue and works with the energy equipment manufacturers to resolve the situation. One of ELM’s recent successful implementations was at a movie theater in the Virgin Islands. Previously the movie theater incurred revenue loss due to unexpected power outages during movie screenings. Using ELM’s MicroGrid Site Controller, the theater was able to operate off the grid by utilizing a microgrid system to keep their power up and reduce outages to almost zero, ensuring zero-disruption of the business.

We have built a platform-agnostic solution for the MicroGrid Site Controller that can control any power generation equipment and make it all work together

MicroGrid Site Controller was crafted considering the needs of the energy and utility sector and consumers like movie theaters, factories, and apartment buildings. Petermeier says, “Before offering the solution, we first try to understand from a consumer perspective and an energy standpoint what the challenges are and how it affects either their business or their lives.”

With clients across the United States, Central and South America, the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, and Canada, ELM banks on its long history and expertise in the energy and utility sector for rapid deployment of its solution. Furthermore, increased acceptance rate from a renewable energy standpoint and newer innovations have created the ground for market and technology growth to coincide for ELM. Currently, the company is working with its utility customers to educate them about the solution and how it can help them bridge the gap between traditional energy utility providers and their behind the meter customers renewable energy generation.