Practical Energy Solutions - West Chester, PA

Background

Practical Energy Solutions was founded by Paul Spiegel in 2006 with the mission of “helping clients reduce, as much as possible, the consumption of finite energy sources.”  Providing comprehensive energy consulting services to businesses, building owners, architects, municipalities, schools and universities, the Practical Energy Solutions team believes that a smart energy strategy can not only mitigate the environmental impacts of a business or institution, but also free up much-needed capital to close budget gaps or for reinvestment in other parts of the organization. Based in West Chester, PA, Practical Energy Solutions grew from a single employee in 2008 to nine employees by 2012, and has worked with over 250 clients across the Mid-Atlantic.

Business Challenge

In a market as volatile as energy, allotting time for staff to pursue continuing education is a constant challenge. “As a small company in the evolving energy industry, it can be difficult to keep up with changing technologies, energy economics, and the regulatory environment” says Spiegel. Additionally, it is costly for firms like Practical Energy Solutions to obtain or maintain credentials that are often prerequisites for acquiring business in lucrative niches of the industry. Furthermore, time spent acquiring these certificates is time that cannot be spent completing projects or developing new business.

Using CCEDC Services

Soon after founding Practical Energy Solutions, Spiegel connected with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Smart Energy Initiative (SEI), an Industry Partnership created in 2006 by the Chester County Economic Development Council. As Practical Energy Solutions has grown, so has the opportunity to utilize SEI as a local, affordable, and objective source of industry information and technical education, specifically through seminars and grant-funded training programs.

In 2013, Practical Energy Solutions also joined SEI’s Advisory Services group. This program refers participating energy service providers to CCEDC investors in need of assistance, based on the services requested and other criteria of the project, including the scale, location, and industry credentials required.

Results

By participating in the Smart Energy Initiative, Practical Energy Solutions has received important assistance in both training and ongoing education of their staff. “The Smart Energy Initiative has helped us retain jobs through funding of critical training for our staff, and has helped us add new employees” wrote Spiegel in a recent letter of support for SEI. “One of the greatest barriers to expansion for a company of our size in the energy industry is the fact that significant specialized training must be provided to all new employees, and the high cost of this training can be a barrier to hiring. SEI has provided funding that allowed us to grow every year from 2007 through 2012.”

Additionally, Practical Energy Solutions has gained key assistance growing their business development pipeline through SEI’s Advisory Services Program. An initial lead in the autumn of 2013 led to a $20,000 project with a local company that operates a large corporate campus with extensive energy needs. Spiegel estimates that this client can save in excess of $250,000 per year if they implement the operational and capital changes recommended by Practical Energy Solutions. With results like these, it’s likely the client will request additional proposals from Spiegel’s team.

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