by Matthew Rose, Director EMI Consulting and Enerdynamics Instructor
As the electric industry evolves to a more distributed model where end-use customers are directly involved in energy markets, new products will be required so that distribution and transmission system operators can effectively use distributed resources and give consumers the ability to manage their market participation. It is likely such products will be developed by entrepreneurial companies able to respond quickly to market needs. EnerNOC is one such company worth observing.
Boston-based energy software firm EnerNOC has successfully built a business around facilitating end-use customers’ participation in demand response (DR) programs. The company built its business by targeting customers able to manage their electric consumption and, in doing so, reap financial rewards offered by utilities and organized wholesale market organizations.
Over the past few years, however, changes within the demand response industry have impacted the extent and predictability of the financial rewards for demand reductions. Examples include:
- The demand response business tends to be concentrated in the hotter summer months with limited activity and revenue in other months.
- Regulatory issues affect the DR business including challenges to the calculations for determining incentives for reductions, customer baseline definitions, and rules for program participation.
- Electricity demand has continued to decline across the U.S. (recognizing there are some regions seeing demand growth), resulting in greater access to capacity and reduced energy prices. These signals have prompted EnerNOC to rethink its offerings, expand its business reach, and offer a suite of more expansive products and services.
So how has EnerNOC responded to such industry changes?
EnerNOC has diversified from being a singularly focused demand response firm to a company offering broader energy intelligence software (EIS) that helps customers make sense of the new choices. Using its cash position, EnerNOC acquired several companies to advance offerings around facility enterprise management and thus facilitate customers’ energy-use optimization. This includes EnerNOC’s purchase of:
- EnTech, which offered utility bill management software;
- World Energy Solutions, an energy procurement software provider;
- and Pulse Energy, a software solutions firm providing intelligence to commercial building customers to optimize consumption.
The integration of these pieces allows EnerNOC to approach customers with software solutions grounded on energy intelligence and actual building data. The company also is advancing its offerings of emerging technologies primarily through strategic partnerships. For example:
- EnerNOC announced a partnership with Tesla to promote and deploy energy storage projects.
- EnerNOC negotiated partnership agreements with SunPower, a global provider of solar solutions and GridPoint, a data-driven energy management systems company.
EnerNOC’s plan is to assemble solutions supporting the full value chain of energy supply and consumption requirements for its customers. According to EnerNOC’s CEO, the decision to expand into energy intelligence software is based on the belief that “customers are looking for an energy platform to help them make sense of all the new choices they have.”