Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

LogoMetrus Energy
San Francisco, CA
Nominated by New Resource Bank

Metrus was born out of the simple truth that energy efficiency (EE) is a valuable resource hidden inside most buildings today. 

Bob Hinkle, CEO and founder of Metrus Energy, spent a lot of time early in his career working overseas to develop EE programs and large-scale power projects. No matter which country he was in, time and again his favorite maxim proved true: the cheapest and cleanest kilowatt-hour (kWh) is the one you don’t use.

When Hinkle returned home from overseas, solar and other renewables were gaining momentum in the U.S. This was terrific, but he was struck by the fact that EE, despite its cost effectiveness and its ability to reduce energy consumption, was not really part of the conversation. Although renewables clearly benefited from supportive policies, something else was helping to drive this market’s expansion. On closer look, it became clear that effective financing solutions were catalyzing renewables by removing the issue of first-cost. Why couldn’t the same be done for energy efficiency?

Hinkle realized that many of the underlying principles used to finance large-scale power projects and renewable projects could be extended to EE. For instance, if energy reductions could be effectively measured and quantified, then these energy reductions – negawatts – could be sold as an output the same way that energy generation – kilowatts – were being sold as an output in power purchase agreements (PPAs). 

This realization evolved into Metrus’ Efficiency Services Agreement (ESA). By figuring out how to deliver EE as a service, we enable building owners to overcome first-cost barriers by tapping energy savings to pay for retrofits, which helps green our economy and our buildings.

Metrus sells EE as a service and simplifies what are normally complex projects involving a diverse set of equipment into a streamlined structure that has a uniform unit of payment (cost per kWh of savings). Key differences between Metrus and traditional EE businesses include: we take on project performance risk; payments to Metrus are variable and based on realized energy savings; customers don’t take on fixed debt obligations; Metrus integrates all the required financial and technical services to implement projects; and Metrus is not tied to one service provider or to a single technology.

Metrus has also developed the first national negawatts incentive program, which offers customers the first 100,000 negawatts free when they implement an EE project. This helps motivate customers to tap into EE as an existing resource to upgrade their facilities. Our receipt of the People & Planet Award for Green Businesses would help us further this incentive campaign by increasing awareness to customers of the value of negawatts. 

Metrus is perfecting its way of doing business and expanding partnerships with community banks dedicated to advancing sustainability and improving local communities with their investments. Thinking of energy efficiency as a critical resource and delivering it as a service still takes a bit of a mind-shift, but it makes sense. Why not save energy and redirect money otherwise spent on utility bills towards something more lasting and beneficial? 

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