ProStar Commercial Energy Solutions
ProStar Energy provides a wide range of energy services and solutions for business clients. These include professional energy audits, building retrofits, commercial solar power, LED lighting retrofits, financial assessments, project risk management, energy procurement, and IoT-based energy management.
Headquartered in Frisco, Texas, ProStar Energy Solutions was listed among the 50 Most Promising IoT Solution Providers by CIO Review in 2019. They have a track record of more than 25 years working with energy solutions across many industry sectors throughout the US and Canada.
ProStar focuses on providing expert advice and designing custom energy solutions that meet the needs of each client, regardless of equipment brands. They can reduce the energy costs and environmental footprint of your building, while helping you qualify for local incentive programs.
Commercial Energy Services: US and Canada
Agriculture Efficiency and Smart Farming
The agriculture industry has a high demand for energy, and increasing costs have a major impact on farmer profits. Agriculture involves many types of specialized equipment, and this also means there are plenty of opportunities for energy efficiency. Many farms also have favorable site conditions for solar panels and other renewable generation systems.
If you’re in the agricultural sector, ProStar Energy Solutions can help you reduce your energy costs. Their team of experts can design energy efficiency measures and generation systems for many types of farms, but they focus on three key areas:
LED Lighting: When designing lighting systems for the agriculture industry, you need to consider the biological needs of crops and livestock. Producing enough lumens is not enough, and light fixtures must also create an environment that contributes to health and productivity. LED lighting offers the design flexibility to be used in various applications, while being energy efficient. For example, LED technology can be used to grow indoor crops faster, or to increase milk production in dairy farms.
IoT: Agriculture involves many routine tasks that can be automated. You can use the IoT to optimize lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, humidification, pumping, and other key operations.
Solar Energy in Agriculture: Farms have access to many renewable resources, which can be used to reduce their energy costs and carbon footprint. Since more farming operations are located away from urban areas, there are no tall buildings blocking sunlight. Solar panels can also be used in grazing areas, where they generate electricity while providing shade for livestock.
Delivery Infrastructure Design
Having reliable energy sources is important for your company, but you also need adequate delivery infrastructure to provide energy at the point of use. For example, an industrial park that generates its own electricity also needs an internal grid to power all its buildings.
- ProStar Energy Solutions can design delivery infrastructure to complement your energy projects, and manage the construction process.
- In cases where delivery infrastructure is built by a utility company, ProStar can design and manage all service connections and interfaces with your facility.
ProStar can optimize the lifetime ownership costs of your energy delivery infrastructure, while helping you plan capacity expansions according to company growth. They can engineer power distribution systems that balance sustainability, ownership costs, and operational flexibility.
Demand Side Response
Managing peak demand is one of the main technical challenges for utility companies. Power grids must be capable of delivering electricity to homes and businesses 24/7, and there are times when this capacity is taken to the limit. Generally, the hottest days of summer are the most critical, since thousands of homes and businesses are using their air conditioners at full capacity simultaneously. The grid must have enough generation capacity to prevent blackouts, and also enough transmission and distribution capacity to deliver electricity at the point of use.
Upgrading the grid to keep up with demand is expensive for utility companies, and for this reason many of them have created demand response programs. Commercial and industrial consumers are rewarded for reducing their consumption at times of peak demand. The ability to control peak demand also provides ongoing savings, since companies can reduce the monthly capacity charged on their power bills.
Commercial and industrial buildings have access to several demand reduction measures. The following are some examples:
- Using automatic controls to switch off building systems that are not critical during peak demand hours.
- Using onsite battery systems at times of high consumption, reducing the net demand that must be covered by the grid. For example, a building with a peak demand of 200 kW can use a 100 kW battery, and the net demand measured by the grid drops by half.
- Ice storage systems can reduce the peak demand contribution of air conditioning. For example, a building can use its chiller plant to make ice after midnight, when demand is low. This ice is used the next day for air conditioning, during peak demand hours, and the chiller can be ramped down or switched off.
ProStar Energy Solutions can specify a suitable demand response system for your building, reducing the capacity charges on your power bill. They can also help you qualify for demand response programs from your utility company, which means you can claim financial incentives on top of your normal savings.
Financial Risk Management
Financial risk is a key element of energy management: Electricity and gas prices are constantly changing, and this affects the operating expenses of companies. Some business models tolerate volatile energy costs, but there are also companies who require predictability and certainty. Depending on the risk profile of each company, the optimal combination of energy sources can vary.
For example, one company may tolerate indexed energy prices that change each month, if that leads to lower average costs. Another company who operates with tight margins might prefer a long-term energy contract with fixed prices, even if that means paying tariffs above the market rate during certain months. ProStar Energy Solutions can identify the most suitable energy plan for your company, based on its operating needs and risk tolerance.
Financial risk management also comes into play for building owners who are considering an onsite generation system. Companies who generate their own electricity can often achieve more predictable costs, but this involves an upfront investment.
If a company will move to another building in the short term, they must be aware that relocating a generation system is a complex and expensive project. Commercial PACE financing can be an attractive option in this case, since the loan is bound to the property and not the owner. An onsite generation system can be easily transferred to another occupant, along with the remaining loan balance.
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems represent the largest energy expense in many commercial buildings. However, this also means that energy efficiency measures for HVAC systems can achieve major savings. There are several strategies that can be used to reduce HVAC costs in buildings:
- Upgrading to newer and more efficient HVAC equipment.
- Installing energy-saving devices such as airside economizers and energy recovery ventilation (ERV) systems.
- Using IoT systems and other automatic controls to optimize heating, cooling and ventilation according to building needs. Demand-controlled ventilation or DCV is a common control strategy, where airflow is adjusted based on occupancy. With reduced airflow, the building also needs less heating or cooling (depending on the season).
- Improving the building envelope insulation and sealing air leaks. This conserves heat during winter and cooling input during summer, saving on HVAC all year long.
- Recommissioning existing HVAC systems, ensuring they operate as intended in design documents. During a building inspection, energy consultants can often find savings opportunities that require little or no investment.
ProStar Energy Solutions can conduct a professional assessment of your HVAC, identifying the energy efficiency measures with the highest potential savings. There are many types of HVAC equipment and system configurations available, and they must be specified based on the needs of each building. When your HVAC system is a poor match for your building, performance issues are common and energy bills tend to increase. ProStar Energy Solutions can specify a suitable HVAC configuration for your building, along with energy efficiency measures to reduce operating costs.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Improving Energy Management with the IoT
A professional energy audit can provide a detailed breakdown of how your building is using energy. Based on this information, consultants can propose energy saving measures that are technically and financially viable. Depending on your building’s location, the state government or local utility companies may offer financial incentives for energy efficiency measures.
The Internet of Things (IoT) takes the energy management process one step further.
- The energy consumption of all building systems can be measured in real time with sensor networks, providing a live snapshot of how energy is being used.
- This information can be used as an input for automatic building controls, which adjust the operating conditions of mechanical and electrical systems to achieve greater savings.
Smart energy management would not have been possible before the digital age, since it requires the constant monitoring of building systems. The IoT makes the concept possible, since sensors can gather live data that describes the operating conditions of energy-consuming systems. Once an IoT platform has been set up, consultants can know how a building is consuming energy at any time, without a walk-through audit.
When the IoT is applied to energy management, the benefits go beyond cost savings. For example, building owners can join demand response programs managed by power companies, where they earn rewards for reducing consumption at times of high demand. Using sensors and automatic controls, building owners can maximize the revenue obtained from these programs. Energy management solutions enhanced by the IoT can also help owners achieve green building certifications like LEED and ENERGY STAR.
Based in Frisco, Texas, ProStar Energy Solutions is a leading provider of energy management solutions for the building sector. In 2019, the company was listed among the 50 Most Promising IoT Solution Providers by CIO Review. ProStar Energy Solutions provides IoT platforms that can gather and centralize live data from multiple buildings or client-owned assets. Using this data, building owners can make better decisions with respect to their energy consumption.
ProStar Energy Solutions recently completed an LED and HVAC upgrade for a major office building developer in Dallas, Texas. These building upgrades were complemented with an energy management solution that gathers and analyzes real-time data, increasing efficiency by 10% and reducing consumption by nearly 20%. ProStar Energy Solutions is currently expanding into the healthcare industry, where the energy costs of facilities exceed $9.7 billion per year. The company is developing an energy management system for hospitals, which are among the most energy intensive buildings.
LED lighting products offer a superior efficiency and service life, compared with older types of lamps and fixtures. During its service life, an LED lighting system not only saves you many kilowatt-hours, but also the lamp replacements needed when using less durable products. LEDs can achieve a payback period of less than 3-4 years in many types of buildings, and they often qualify for financial incentives from electric utilities or local governments.
ProStar Energy Solutions can conduct a professional assessment of your lighting systems, and specify an ideal LED upgrade for each application.
- Depending on the lamp types being replaced, the electricity savings achieved by LED lighting can range from 30% to 90%.
- Commercial and industrial LED products have a typical service life of 50,000 – 100,000 hours, while most fluorescent and HID lamps are in the range of 10,000 – 30,000 hours. You can save many lamp replacements over time, and their associated labor cost.
LED lighting products may seem more expensive upfront. However, when you consider their energy and maintenance savings in the long term, each dollar invested is recovered multiple times. Compared with older technologies, LED lighting is also a safer option:
- LED lamps and fixtures can be manufactured without glass and other fragile materials, making them shatterproof. When HID and fluorescent lamps break, they scatter glass shards and other harmful substances.
- LED lamps operate at lower temperatures, which means they are less likely to cause a burn when touched accidentally.
- Unlike HID lamps, which have a restrike time after being switched off, LEDs can reactivate immediately after a power interruption. This is a major advantage in outdoor and industrial applications.
Thanks to their low energy consumption, LEDs can operate more hours with backup power during blackouts and other emergencies. This gives you more time to evacuate a building if necessary.
There are many states where you can choose your gas and electricity providers, but having several options can also lead to confusion. Energy plans often have complex terms and conditions, and a bad choice can greatly increase your utility bills. ProStar Energy Solutions can help you find the most cost-effective energy plans for your building, considering key factors like your operating schedule and peak demand.
ProStar can also help you plan your energy purchasing decisions over time, instead of relying on short-term purchases that increase your bills. The energy consumption patterns of your company are a key factor to consider when comparing gas or electricity plans. Each building has a unique consumption profile, and a plan that reduces utility bills in a neighboring property will not necessarily work for you.
The energy consumption patterns of commercial and industrial buildings can also change over time. This means companies must reevaluate their energy plans regularly, and decide if they still make sense. Also consider that new energy providers may enter the market, and they may bring better kWh rates for your company. ProStar Energy Solutions can give you ongoing advice, helping you make the best energy procurement decisions.
ProStar Energy Solutions can design a project that meets your technical requirements, while offering an attractive return on investment and minimizing the environmental impact of your company. In other words, they focus on finding solutions that are technically, financially and environmentally viable.
- Unlike many other energy service companies, ProStar takes charge of engineering and project management with an in-house team of experts.
- ProStar is also vendor-neutral: they specify equipment that meets the needs of your company, without promoting specific brands.
Each facility has unique site conditions and energy consumption patterns, and similar buildings may be subject to different energy prices and regulations. ProStar can design energy efficiency measures and onsite generation systems based on the requirements and conditions of each building. Their experts can design energy projects that meet the building codes and regulations of your local government.
Technical requirements are only one aspect of energy projects: you also need effective management to meet your deadline and budget. ProStar Energy Solutions goes beyond the design stage, and they can also help you secure financing and manage risks throughout the entire project.
The success of a deep energy retrofit or renewable generation project depends on technical, financial and regulatory aspects. The following are some project management areas that can be simplified by relying on the experts at ProStar:
- Energy market analysis: Identify which energy efficiency measures and renewable generation systems are viable, considering current energy prices and local regulations.
- Project kickoff: ProStar can break down the scope of your energy project into specific work items and schedule construction. They can also manage the bidding process and request all the necessary information.
- Contract management: ProStar can help you compare different types of energy contracts (PPA, lease, service agreement, etc.), identifying the best option for your company.
- Project financing: ProStar can analyze the costs and benefits associated with your energy project, while helping you secure financing under favorable terms.
- Environmental impact: ProStar can analyze the lifetime environmental impacts and benefits associated with your energy project, while helping you meet local permitting requirements and regulations.
ProStar offers a unique combination of energy expertise and project management expertise, ensuring that your project is finished on time and on budget, while offering an attractive return on investment.
There are utility companies and local governments who offer rebates for building owners who install energy efficiency measures or renewable generation systems. However, you must first qualify for these rebates by demonstrating the benefits of your building upgrade. For example, an LED rebate program might require a professional design, installation by a licensed contractor, and using lighting products approved by ENERGY STAR or the DesignLights Consortium (DLC).
Rebate programs have their own terms and conditions, which must be considered when designing a building retrofit. Qualifying for one energy rebate does not guarantee getting other benefits managed by different organizations. However, qualifying for multiple rebates whenever possible is worth the effort: there are cases where rebates can cover 100% of building retrofit costs.
ProStar Energy Solutions can help you qualify for all rebate programs available in your location. These incentives reduce the net cost of your project, increasing your return on investment while shortening your payback period. Generally, their customers qualify for rebates that cover 30-40% of project costs. ProStar can also help you qualify for other types of energy incentives, such as Renewable Energy Certificates (REC) or zero-interest/low-interest green loans. In cases where two energy incentive programs are mutually exclusive, ProStar can help you choose the option that offers the highest financial benefit.
Renewable energy consumption is increasing in the US, and the Energy Information Administration has forecast that 44% of electric power could come from renewable sources by 2050. Energy efficiency measures and renewable energy systems can achieve synergy: while energy efficiency measures reduce your total consumption, renewable sources reduce your dependence on grid electricity and fossil fuels.
ProStar Energy Solutions can provide all the professional services your company needs to install a renewable energy system:
- Market analysis and financial feasibility study
- Detailed engineering design
- Project compliance: local laws and regulations, design approval, environmental permits, construction permits, etc.
- Construction management
- Decommissioning equipment that reaches the end of its service life
ProStar has experience with all the main renewable energy technologies: solar photovoltaics, solar thermal, wind turbines, heat pump systems, energy storage systems, hydropower, geothermal power, and bioenergy. They can identify the most suitable technologies for your company, based on energy audits and feasibility studies.
Renewable energy not only reduces your company’s energy expenses, but also its environmental footprint. The real estate industry can also use renewable energy systems to make commercial and industrial buildings more attractive for potential tenants.
Commercial Solar Projects
Solar energy is currently the fastest growing electricity source in the US, and the nationwide installed capacity surpassed 120 GW in 2021. The US now has enough solar panels to power 23.3 million homes, and this growth is not showing any signs of slowing down. The Solar Energy Industries Association has estimated that the US could reach up to 700 GW of capacity by 2032.
Solar power has become an attractive option for commercial and industrial buildings, for several reasons:
- High-quality solar panels last for 25 years or more, and many building owners achieve a payback period of less than six years.
- Unlike other generation systems that rely on fuel deliveries, sunlight reaches your property for free, every day.
- Solar panels have simple maintenance needs, compared with other generation systems.
Solar power systems qualify for a 26% federal tax credit as of 2022, and many state governments and power companies offer additional incentives. Business-owned solar systems also qualify for the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS), which allows their asset value to be written off in five years, although they last for more than 25 years.
Depending on your building’s location, a commercial solar array may also qualify for local tax credits, tax exemptions, energy rebates, renewable energy certificates (REC), and other incentives that improve your ROI.
Utility Bill Auditing
Utility bills don’t always reflect the actual energy consumption of a commercial or industrial building. ProStar Energy Solutions has found that up to 80% of utility bills contain errors, and these undue payments can add up to thousands of dollars over time. Also consider that energy companies are under no obligation to notify their customers when lower energy prices are available, and your bills may have optional payments you can eliminate.
ProStar Energy Solutions can analyze your gas and electricity bills, finding opportunities to claim refunds or accumulate future savings. If any information is missing, their team of experts can obtain it directly from your gas or electricity provider. In many cases, companies can reduce their annual utility expenses by 3-5%. The following are some potential benefits of a professional utility bill audit from ProStar:
- Claiming refunds for overcharges and other billing errors.
- Identifying optional charges and opting out of them.
- Switching to energy plans with more favorable conditions for your company.
If a utility bill audit from ProStar Energy Solutions achieves no savings or refunds, it’s free of charge for the customer.