Green Epiphany Proposal for
Electric Thermal Storage in New England

1. Business Opportunity

Electric thermal storage (ETS) uses inexpensive, off-peak electricity to make and store heat in bricks within an insulated chamber until the heating system distributes it to the building. Green Epiphany will facilitate the marketing, sales and installation of ETS heating units for residences and small businesses in New England, especially where wind energy is generated. Studies show that wind is stronger at night and in winter. Using wind power, ETS becomes a thermal battery, absorbing and converting energy to stored heat for distribution the following day.

”Smart-meter” responsive, electric water heating controllers can be implemented in conjunction with ETS equipment, extending the conversion capability to both heat and hot water. These technologies take advantage of smart grid technology, providing real incentives for those who want to use local green power that is competitively priced, and for wind-power suppliers who need to absorb their nocturnal wind capacity.

There is a powerful incentive for suppliers to offer off-peak, discounted rates. ETS furnaces and smart-meter water-heating controllers are presently manufactured and used in the US Midwest and are used extensively in Europe. We propose strategic investments in this proven technology in New England, to absorb and promote nocturnal wind power.

2. Business Concept

Green Epiphany will market and sell ETS heating and water heating control units to New England residents and businesses. This will include arranging equipment delivery from the US Midwest and/or Europe, and installation in homes and businesses using locally trained contractors.                 

Our ideal customer is a home or business owner who: wants to “go green;” is replacing an inefficient oil furnace; is in a community with existing or planned wind power; and can take advantage of off-peak rates. There are over 100 ETS units installed in Concord MA where the Light Company offers off-peak rates and rebates on installation. The first ETS furnace in Hull, MA benefits from 2 municipal wind turbines. Once the proposed off-peak rate is approved, the unit will use up to 100% wind power during the nighttime to store heat in its bricks for distribution into its forced hot water system during the day. Customers maximize advantages by replacing conventional oil or gas furnaces and using existing piping and ducting of forced hot water or air.

3. Sales and Marketing

The recent approval of the Cape Wind project presents a potential market of approximately 100,000 year-round homes where an ETS system could be used for heating. The target market is 4,000 homes and businesses in 5 years, primarily on Cape Cod. At an average conversion rate of 25kW per home, by achieving this target, Green Epiphany would realize a conversion of 100 Megawatts of power from fossil fuel to wind-driven off-peak electricity. Green Epiphany’s marketing strategy will have dual fronts. First we will persuade Cape Wind and other wind power providers operating in target markets to encourage their customers through various incentives to use night wind power for heating.  Second, our marketing, promotion and sales program will encourage home conversions by partnering with buying groups such as Boston Buying Power. Additional immediate markets exist in Hull and Princeton MA where both towns have wind turbines and the potential for attractive off-peak rates.

4. Identification and Mitigation of Risks

Risks include lack of off-peak rates, because of utility regulations or other reasons. This diminishes the pay-back period for customers. To support efforts like ours, the Patrick administration passed legislation mandating pilot programs using smart-meter technology. Proposals to power companies such as Hull for off-peak rates will emphasize advantages of ETS, as well as off-peak rates through programs such as Boston Buying Power.  

Other risks include delays in wind power development; however, a large pool of “new” off-peak customers might convince investors and regulators that there is a local, viable use of night-wind energy in ETS.

The major competitors for this business are the home heating oil and natural gas suppliers. In addition to the previously stated environmental advantage, ETS heating eliminates liability from pollution, fire and explosion and offers price stabilization for heating. Among the other alternative heating technologies, bio fuels carry significant fire liability, and although geothermal technology offers similar carbon emission and liability reduction, capital costs are significantly higher than ETS.

5. Financial Plan

The estimated installed cost of an ETS heating furnace for the average three bedroom home is ~$10,000, consisting of equipment, shipping, and installation labor on a subcontract basis. To reduce direct costs, Green Epiphany plans to ship equipment in bulk and operate a small warehousing facility convenient to its installation markets. The Company believes that by operating at ~33% gross margin it can cover its direct, marketing and overhead costs and return a profit to its investors.

The Company seeks funding sufficient to cover its start-up costs and carry it to the point where sales volume will generate sufficient margin revenue to operate on a cash-flow positive basis. The Company will seek funding from strategic partners such as wind power developers and ETS manufacturers who are  natural beneficiaries of the Company’s success. It  expects to structure its marketing program to keep pace with the availability of the wind generation it supports.

6. Management Team

Helen Waldorf, Business Lead, is an energy and environment consultant, with 25 years of experience in compliance at MassDEP. She holds degrees in public administration, environmental science and biology from Harvard, Yale and Rice Universities, respectively.

Paul Keleher, Technical Lead, is a Master Electrician with over 30 years experience, specializing in electric thermal storage heating. He invented a patented electrical test instrument and authored several proposals to improve the national electrical code.

Judith Hutchinson, Marketing and Sales Lead, owns a small business for graphic design and photographic products. She is an educator and environmental analyst with 25 years in public service and degrees in Biology and Environmental Management. She designed a community Circuit Rider compliance approach that is now a state-wide model.