Just over two years ago, EnerNOC made its tenth acquisition, M2M Communications, which delivers wireless, automated demand response solutions to the agricultural sector.

That was pretty much the first and last we heard about EnerNOC’s foray into agricultural demand response, until now. PacifiCorp announced on Thursday that it chose EnerNOC for a ten-year contract to provide about 185 megawatts of load reduction in Idaho and Utah, where it operates as Rocky Mountain Power.

Instead of cutting energy use in commercial facilities, EnerNOC will shed megawatts by controlling irrigation pumps. A gateway attaches to the center pivot irrigation pump for automated load control. The contract is the demand response provider’s largest deal so far in the agricultural sector.

PacifiCorp will collect real-time data from all the farms in the program. Participating farmers will also have access to the data through EnerNOC’s software platform, where they can track their demand response participation and manage energy use.

Since the M2M acquisition, EnerNOC has been looking to integrate M2M’s wireless assets into its latest platform for fault detection. Just as EnerNOC is doing monitoring on building assets, it can also run diagnostics on water pumps and other farm gear.

PacifiCorp operates across six Western states and serves 1.7 million customers, so while the initial contract is for Rocky Mountain Power, there is opportunity for growth within the utility.

"Partnering with EnerNOC to provide an irrigation control technology platform helps us realize our goal of reliably meeting our customers' energy requirements," Carol Hunter, VP of energy efficiency for PacifiCorp, said in a statement.

Before M2M was purchased by EnerNOC, it worked with a range of Western utilities, including PacifiCorp. This contract, however, is an entirely new agreement, according to EnerNOC, and far larger than the previous agreement M2M had with PacifiCorp.

In the Midwest and Western U.S., irrigation pumps can consume up to 30 percent of a utility’s load. The farm sector spends about $1.5 billion on electricity for irrigation annually, according to EnerNOC. Water pumps account for more 7,000 megawatts of peak demand.

Agricultural demand response is a focus for EnerNOC in 2013, along with an open developer’s platform (EnerNOC Open), more efficiency services based on the streams of data it’s pulling in from more nearly 6,000 customers, and international expansion. One country where it already has multiple deals, Australia, is also ripe for agricultural demand response.

Tags: agricultural demand response, demand response, enernoc, irrigation, load control, pacificorp, rocky mountain power