Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

ZBB powers 350 condominiums in Honolulu

Steve Rogerson
January 7, 2015

Milwaukee-based ZBB Energy is to provide energy to more than 350 condominiums in Honolulu, Hawaii. The multi-million dollar two-phase project, using solar photovoltaics with ZBB technologies, is expected to take up to 24 months to complete and is projected to result in $2m in net energy savings during the 20-year term of the agreement. 

ZBB develops energy management systems serving the utility, commercial and industrial building markets. The contract was via a wholly-owned Delaware limited liability company, with a condo association of apartment owners (AOAO).

The agreement lets the AOAO increase savings from an installation of solar PV, energy storage and energy management, along with the assurance that, in the event of a grid outage, ZBB can functionally provide for use of customer-side-of-the-meter solar and energy storage to continue providing electricity.

It is expected that the average savings for the AOAO in the first year will exceed 15% and the savings will continue to grow in future years as the price of grid electricity increases. In addition, ZBB's system will reduce CO2 emissions and provide increased customer reliability.

For ZBB, the agreement is a unique contracting instrument that provides a vehicle for sales of ZBB equipment and an opportunity for either a long-term investment, or the sale of the agreement to interested third party investors. This will give ZBB, or a third party purchaser, an opportunity to capitalise on certain state and federal investment tax credits and other incentives that increase the agreement’s long-term return.

ZBB is working on several similar agreements designed to allow a bundling of these investments that would be attractive to high-yield income investors.

"The selection of ZBB's energy management system is validation of our product differentiation and performance for the commercial and industrial (C&I) market," said Brad Hansen, president and chief operating officer of ZBB Energy. "While other C&I energy management systems have limited control capability, functionality and energy efficiency, ZBB's solution ensures the greatest possible energy efficiency with simple system control.”

He said the company’s energy management systems enabled a wider portfolio of applications to be provided to the building owner, including intermittent power type applications such as PV ramping, micro-turbine smoothing, frequency regulation and power quality, or scheduled energy applications, such as demand response, peak shaving, rate shifting and back-up power.

“Other systems in the market struggle to provide for more than one or two applications, but our system delivers complete power and energy applications capability today, while future proofing buildings for tomorrow,” he said. “ZBB's systems are highly configurable and expandable, so we can tailor them to almost any building, and enable the owner to incorporate additional applications going forward. We look forward to achieving ongoing success in Hawaii and anticipate the closing of additional opportunities similar to this contract."

Eric Apfelbach, chief executive officer of ZBB, added: "It also provides an opportunity to diversify the type of investor in ZBB to now include those investors interested in high yield long-term returns. We look forward to working with interested investors and investment bankers on providing the opportunities that will meet their income and return objectives."