Energy-management company GridPoint raised $32 million as part of its fourth round of funding, the company said Thursday.

Fueling the latest round of the company's growth are backers Goldman Sachs, Altira Group and Standard Renewable Energy Group.

GridPoint wouldn't comment about how much it expects to close for the full funding round, but Chief Operating Officer Karl Lewis said it would use the money to expand business operations and take the company to the next level.

GridPoint, founded in 2003, sells products that help balance the demand and supply of electricity.

The company already has products that monitor electricity use in individual buildings, convert the direct current produced by solar, wind and other alternative-energy sources into usable electricity and sell excess electricity back to the grid.

But now the company is taking on a new market: utilities. The company has built what it calls the SmartGrid Platform, which gives utilities more insight into the grid so that they can, for instance, strategically discharge and store power according to demand.

That ability can help level out demand and reduce the need for special power plants to generate power during "peak" times, Lewis said.

The technology could also support the growth of plug-in hybrids, Lewis said, because it can charge vehicles when electricity is in surplus.

GridPoint said the SmartGrid Platform is being tested. And pushing the product into the open market is, no doubt, part of GridPoint's plan.

Managing Excitement

Only two years ago, it was hard to find market excitement around energy-management and efficiency companies like GridPoint. But times have changed.

Aside from GridPoint, San Francisco-based Grid Net, which offers policy-based networking software for the utility industry, also raised $6.75 million in its first round. According to Thursday's PE Week Wire, investors included Catamount Ventures and Intel Capital.

Investor interest perked in 2006, when a slew of energy management startups snagged serious capital. That year, GridPoint got $37 million in two rounds, Prenova walked away with $11 million, Broadband Energy Network took home more than $2 million and Fat Spaniel raised $3.5 million.

The appeal doesn't appear to be fading in 2007. Rodrigo Prudencio, a partner at Nth Power, thinks continuing investor interest is partly due to company IPOs in the space. He points to Nth Power-backed Comverge, which went public in April, as an example.

But with such heated interest, could investment in the space start drying up? "It's too early to talk about the area closing down," Prudencio said.

Plus, he said, there are still many big opportunities left. "There are a lot of inefficiencies in the electrical economy," he said.