Pelm (YC W22) – Plaid for Utilities

Hi HN, Drew and Edmund from Pelm here (https://www.pelm.com). We are building an API that allows developers to access energy data, such as electricity usage or billing data, from utilities.

Currently, if you want to build an application on top of energy data, you have to build integrations with utilities across the country. Not only is this time-consuming, it's super frustrating given the lack of data standardization and the clunky, high-friction integration processes that energy companies use. With Pelm, you only have to integrate with one service to access utility data, and you get to use a seamless, well-documented API built by other developers.

We are software engineers (from Asana and Affirm) who are enthusiastic about sustainability and the creation of a more modern energy grid. We talked with lots of developers who were frustrated from trying to work with energy data and saw an opportunity to meet their needs while supporting the push for a more efficient energy grid.

Most companies trying to tackle this problem are energy companies, not technology companies. The products they build don't keep the user in mind and only focus on meeting bare functional requirements. Pelm, by contrast, is by-developers-for-developers. Our focus is ease of use. Our API is simple to get up and running (under ten minutes) and provides clear documentation and instructions.

It works like this: you register for our service and embed Connect (our front-end plugin) into your application. The end user uses Connect to authorize access to their data from their particular utility. We scrape electricity usage and billing data from their utility account and store it in a standardized format in a database. Your application can then query electricity interval data and billing data for the end user through our REST API. We also recently built out functionality to pay utility bills through our API.

Our API is designed for apps that do things like help consumers reduce electricity usage, charge EVs at optimal times, optimize HVAC installs, or educate on climate-friendly practices.

One example of how Pelm can currently be used is in demand response programs—that’s when utilities pay companies to get large amounts of people to reduce their electricity consumption during peak hours. Our API can help measure the reduction, which determines how much the company gets paid. Another example: solar panel installers can use us to show potential clients how much they could save on their electricity bill by installing solar. Another is community solar programs that allow people to buy into remote solar farms and get credit for the generated energy from utilities. Pelm can be used by community solar providers to calculate and bundle bills.

(By the way, an interesting little-known fact: this space is possible because of a 2012 initiative by Obama that required utilities to allow consumers more visibility into their energy consumption habits.)

Pelm is free up to 100 API calls and 10 active end users per month. After that we charge on a usage based plan: $0.10/call and $0.50/active end user up to 10,000 API calls and 1,000 active users. Past that limit, you'll move onto an enterprise plan with a flat monthly rate based on your service level and an adjusted rate for calls and active end users (we’re still figuring out the exact parameters).

We’d love to hear any of your ideas or experiences within this space! We’re always looking for creative approaches to the problem and ways we can better the developer experience we’re building. If you get a chance to test out the API, please share your feedback on how we could improve it. Thanks so much!



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