Kitchener-Waterloo-based cleantech startup EnPowered has unveiled a new payments platform designed to make it easier for its business customers to invest in energy-efficiency projects.
The launch of the startup’s new EnPowered Payments platform, which allows companies to pay for capital-intensive cleantech projects as operating expenses, comes after EnPowered realized access to funding was a core barrier preventing companies from adopting energy solutions.
The startup’s payments platform is now available in Ontario and Ohio.
EnPowered, which was founded in 2015 by CEO Tomas van Stee, initially thought it could increase adoption of energy solutions, like light installations and building improvements, by facilitating energy savings through its platform. But after rolling out EnPowered Programs, the startup quickly realized that increasing savings alone wasn’t enough to solve this issue.
“We launched EnPowered Payments so that we could increase that rate of [cleantech] adoption, and we could reduce a lot of the barriers to allow decision makers to move more quickly and … leverage their electricity bill as a way to be able to finance or be able to cover some of the different costs,” EnPowered CTO Mike Kirkup told BetaKit.
EnPowered Programs helps customers save money on their electricity bills by monitoring spikes in electricity prices, prompting assets to shift usage to save money and decrease emissions. Following the launch of its programs platform in 2019, EnPowered soon realized its clients were facing another issue: a lack of financing.
“The reality is that a lot of the technology that’s available today is more than suitable at reducing emissions, reducing electricity usage, driving savings, and overall, improving a lot of the different value propositions for stakeholders,” said Kirkup “So why isn’t it happening?”
According to Kirkup, this is because cost remains a key barrier preventing cleantech adoption, as many companies don’t have the capital available to invest in these often expensive solutions.
“All of our [energy solution provider] partners have a huge number of customers that they went to and tried to sell to before and got blocked because they didn’t have the capital … the return on investment was longer than whatever the company’s stated period for payback period was, and those types of issues,” said Kirkup.
“It was an opportunity for us to look at it and go, okay … there are a number of friction points in the industry that are all being held back by the fact that people can’t figure out a way to invest in energy solutions to improve their situations,” said Kirkup.
To address this issue, EnPowered began working on EnPowered Payments late last year, a platform that allows customers to pay for energy solution projects on their existing utility bills over a series of payments using savings from those initiatives. This allows firms to pay for capital-intensive energy projects over time with no upfront investment, through lower-priced or identical utility bills.
“When structured properly, the monthly cost of our projects is less than the savings our customers earn, by bundling these charges on our customer’s existing electricity bill we are able to offer a seamless solution,” said Howard Lu, director of business development at Ainsworth, one of the energy solution providers using EnPowered.
EnPowered Payments connects buyers to a stable of lenders, including some energy solutions providers who provide their own financing options. The startup facilitates this connection, giving these providers a method of paying for these projects that they can then take to otherwise unwilling customers, making money by taking a percentage of payments through its platform.
“Even when risk is low and ROI is compelling, securing capital for energy projects can be difficult or impossible, with the result being that too many important energy projects never get started,” said Jay Barber, president and CEO of Southeast Capital and Finance, one of the lenders providing financing through EnPowered Payments. “Transforming large-scale purchases into operating expenses vastly expands the market of potential buyers for cleantech solutions, and we’re pleased to provide that financing.”
EnPowered Payments is a standalone platform, but Kirkup said it does “pair very well with EnPowered Programs,” which can be used to drive savings that can then be used to help cover the cost of energy solutions.
EnPowered’s current client base skews towards large electricity users, ranging from manufacturing facilities, to hospitals, hotels, and greenhouses, who stand to save more money by changing how and when they use electricity, but Kirkup said the startup also targets small-to-medium-sized businesses.
The startup’s payments platform is now available in Ontario and Ohio. EnPowered plans to expand to New York next, and has its sights set on serving “a significant portion” of North America. Longer-term, Kirkup said EnPowered is eyeing other markets around the world, including the United Kingdom, the European Union, and the Eastern-Pacific regions.
Kirkup also told BetaKit EnPowered has recently raised funding to support its growth strategy. He declined to disclose the details of the round, but hinted at plans to announce in the near future.
Feature image courtesy of EnPowered