EPS Corp. has raised $30 million to cut power at factories, and maybe even acquire some rivals.

The Costa Mesa, Calif.-based company, which has been around since 2001, specializes in monitoring and curbing power consumption at industrial sites and, in particular, at food and beverage facilities, such as breweries or dairies. At one dairy, it cut electrical consumption by 22.6 percent, said CEO Jay Zoellner in an interview.

"You first need to measure and manage; and executives, for the most part, do not understand where and how they can control energy use," he said.

At a brewery, the EPS cut down power use, but it also extracted solids from the wastewater stream that were turned into methane and used onsite for power. Yum!

Energy efficiency has moved from the back row to the forefront in the greentech world in the last six months (see Better Cold Water Through Software and Eleven Cool Names and Concepts to Watch in Air Conditioning). It isn't as exciting as solar panels or electric cars, but Zoellner (among others) notes that efficiency solutions cost quite a bit less and can provide payback in a year or less. Efficiency companies also don't need expensive dedicated factories; hence, VCs have remained interested despite the economic crunch.

Some of the other efficiency/control companies to keep an eye on include: Recycled Energy Development (waste heat recovery), Cimetrics (real estate power management), Tririga (real estate), HID Laboratories (networking lights) and Optimum Energy (air con controls).

The heart of the company's intellectual property is xChange Point, which gathers information about power consumption from boilers and other pieces of machinery. The data is normalized so that factory managers can compare power consumption at different parts of the year, or in different geographies where heating and cooling requirements might vary.  It also compensates for weather.

The system consists of both hardware and software from EPS and is sold as a service. Do Johnson Controls and Siemens provide similar systems? Yes, says Zoellner, but the incumbents in this space have concentrated more on commercial buildings than industrial sites, he asserted. Many of the older systems are also often based on proprietary protocols. EPS' hardware and software aren't exactly open source, but they can accommodate any industry standard protocol a factory manager might want.

Once the control and measurement systems are in place, EPS also advises companies on equipment and other steps that can be taken. It will also install any new systems. The solutions vary: In some places, waste heat recovery might be the best solution, etc.

EPS will also track carbon. Right now, though, since carbon regulations haven't passed in the U.S., customers are not investing in capital to reduce carbon emissions, he said. Energy reduction is the main concern.

Altira Group was the lead investor. Ngen Partners, an earlier investor, also participated in this round.

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