For more than two years now Geostellar’s software has been
available to power companies interested in estimating how much electricity they
can produce in a particular spot.
Now Geostellar is offering the same service for individual
home and business owners.
They can enter their address and get a report on how much
electricity solar panels will produce and the value that energy. The computer
software uses 3D aerial photography to makes the calculations.
“So the computer moves the sun through the sky every minute
of the day and because we know how tall the trees are from these 3D maps and
what the slope of the roof is we can tell exactly how much sunlight is going to
fall on each facet of the roof,” David Levine, chief executive officer, said.
“Once we know exactly how much sunlight we can compute how much
energy will be produced, we can compute the value of that energy based on your
utility rates and then we apply the federal and state incentives to say what
the actual cost of your solar will be,” he said.
All this calculating results in a report showing how much
money property owners will save each year the solar system is on the roof.
Property owners can already get this information from
companies that install solar systems. Levine said the computer software gives
them the same option that programs like Travelocity and Kayak offer when
shopping for airline tickets and hotel rooms, being able to compare services
all at once.
“My wife and I both work so anytime a handyman has to come
over to fix the HVAC it’s a pain in the neck,” he said. “So we really felt its
going to be the same way here.”
“If we in our virtual world have already had this little
virtual man climb on your roof and take measurements from every location and
determine exactly how much energy you could generate,” he said. “That’s certainly
going to be more convenient than sending three or four different people.”
Levine said the software program also offers the advantage
of being able to sort out what the best deal is for customers.
Currently estimates are only available for a small area in West
Virginia because the company is still collecting the
aerial photography needed to create the maps. They are available for Jefferson
County and planes have flown over
Morgan and Berkeley Counties.
The company is collecting photos of the rest of the state.
“We’re working with the West Virginia University Natural
Resources Center that’s collecting this very high resolution model it’s called
Lidar, for the rest of the state,” Levine said. “So it’s going to be rolling
out to the rest of the state over the course of a year.”
The web site is collecting email addresses and will notify anyone
interested in getting an estimate when the maps are available.
This is the fifth high tech company Levine has founded.
Previously he started Ultraprise, which helped the financial services industry
assess loan risk, and Emergent Technologies, a gaming company. These endeavors
relocated out of state as they grew.
Levine says he’s determined to keep Geostellar providing
employment here in West Virginia.
The company just raised $14 million in venture capitol from the wholesale power
generation company NRG.
“They really get solar, they also really understand that the
secret sauce is the people, and that other people aren’t going to be able to do
the same things with the technology that we are able to do with it,” Levine
“Previously there was really a tremendous pressure on us the
moment the money came in to change out the people and move somewhere else,” he
said. “And we just decided that it was not going to happen that way this time.”
Levine says Geostellar hopes to grow enough over the next
two years to hire about 100 people.