By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
“This is old school stuff that we do,” Harvey Abouelata, President of ARiES Energy, LLC, says in explaining how his company helps clients evaluate renewable energy options.
The “old school” refers to the country’s forefathers who ventured to the United States, motivated by a desire to be more independent. Today, ARiES focus is on energy independence for everything from homeowners to businesses.
“There is no such thing as too small a client if you own your property,” Abouelata says. “These are all long-term equity plays.”
Mary Shafer Gill, the company’s Vice President, describes ARiES’ focus as fairly simple: “We make clean energy easy, accessible and affordable.” To that point, Abouelata adds that every project involves economic development, energy independence, and environmental stewardship.
The ARiES model involves a three-step process – evaluation, reduction, and production.
“They build on each other,” Abouelata says.
In the case of evaluation, he says the approach is heavily data-driven, using monitors to collect data to “tell you exactly what you’re doing when you do it.”
Abouelata says ARiES looks for patterns that enable change. “If you know what you are doing, you can change your habits,” he explains.
The ARiES data-intensive process also arms customers with facts that give them the confidence to act.
“Armed with that data, we help you reduce usage,” Abouelata says of the second step in the process – developing the reduction strategy. The largest energy consumers are heat, air conditioning, and lighting.
In the case of manufacturers, ARiES helps with power conditioning, shaving peak demand which, in turn, helps reduce capital investments.
“We are technology agnostic,” Abouelata says in describing the third area of help – selecting the appropriate production equipment. To reinforce the point, ARiES does not sell hardware.
“We sell solutions,” Abouelata.
He and his team have drawn a good deal of attention recently for work the firm has done with Wampler’s Farm Sausage and the Knoxville Zoo in gasification. The former has been completed; a business plan for the latter has been presented to Zoo management.
Abouelata explains both projects are “capturing waste streams and trapping dollars so they don’t go out.”
In fact, the waste streams in both cases will be turned into revenue streams through a byproduct called biochar, a valuable compost material.
“Customers like Wampler’s demanded us to be smart about what we do,” Abouelata says. “We’ve learned so much from our customers.”
Abouelata has a background in cost accounting, so it’s natural for him to “breakdown things.” That is also a valuable capability in building return on investment proposals for ARiES’ customers.