The row of windows in Locus Energy's office peer out toward Manhattan.
It grants the company a view of its former home. The firm, which provides a monitoring and analytics platform for solar panels, moved to Hoboken in late 2012, lured by financial incentives offered by the state's Economic Development Authority.
It's also a portal to the founders' earliest memories — before they established themselves on the West Coast, before they considered building monitoring hardware to complement their software solutions. And it's a reminder of a time that's easy to get nostalgic about: before they had as many competitors.
Locus Energy entered the distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) market — before it became as attractive as it is today — in Manhattan in 2007, with the intent of just offering software solutions. When the company unveiled a metering system two years later in response to their clients' needs, they say they were the first to do it.
Locus Energy allows its clients — which span the residential, commercial and utility sectors — a way to optimize a portfolio of solar arrays with less hardware. The company emphasizes its software, which tracks energy generation and weather patterns, and its suite of analytics, which uses data to compare a “solar fleet's” expectations to its actual performance.
But Locus Energy has seen the emergence of startups that offer similar features, plus larger corporations jumping into the fray, too. Still, the company's leaders believe their efforts have slotted them amongst the winners.
“There's a consolidation of the leading players in the market,” Michael Herzig, the company's CEO, said. “We're well ensconced as one of the top three.”
That belief is backed by a 2013 report jointly released by GTM Research and Solichamba Consulting, which ranked Locus Energy as the No. 1 residential solar PV monitoring provider in America.
There are now more than 40,000 monitoring systems that Locus Energy has deployed. That's around 10 percent of all systems that operate nationally.
The company's vice president of sales and marketing, Adrian De Luca, said Locus is doing something that not all competitors are, which is marrying ground-level sensor data with analytics. This allows solar fleet operators the answers to a couple of key questions:
“How do you spot problems quickly?” De Luca said. “If you've got a large number of systems, and you think there are seven different problems with a given fleet, how do you prioritize your resolution activities?”
De Luca said having those answers could mean the difference between a seven-year return on investment in a year or two less.
And just how many answers Locus Energy's solutions have at the ready is increasing all the time, thanks to the company's San Francisco-based development team.
More than 100 of Locus Energy's 500 clients are located in New Jersey. It's still the second-largest market for solar PV installations in the nation.
But the solar market in the state has seen a rise and fall over the years. “It's a market with a lot of ups and downs,” Herzig said. “That's one of the main challenges of our business. By being diversified across the U.S., we mitigate part of that.”
De Luca and Herzig are confident Locus Energy has a sufficient presence within American borders, so now Locus Energy is looking far beyond its windows.
“(Deals in) South America, Central America are poised to explode,” De Luca said. “We'll be opportunistic about that.”
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THE BIZ IN BRIEF
Company: Locus Energy
CEO: Michael Herzig
Niche: Solar panel monitoring and analytics platform provider
Revenue: About $25 million.
Employees: 15 in New Jersey, 25 in San Francisco