EnerNOC is not short on announcements these days. From moving across the pond to multiple acquisitions and focusing on OpenADR, the demand response company is filling out its portfolio as peak shedding turns into peak shaving.
In case all of that wasn’t enough, the Boston-based company announced that it will provide Bonneville Power Administration with demand response capacity to help stabilize the grid as more wind power is brought online. As of August 2010, the BPA Balancing Authority Area had just over 3,000 megawatts of wind generating capacity, and that could double by 2013.
The project, led by Ecofys US, a renewable energy consultant, will use EnerNOC’s DR platform to balance out both dips and surges in power. The system will respond in less than 10 minutes, although it will be interesting to watch and see if that latency will have to be cut to avoid surges.
At the recent Networked Solar conference, demand response was mentioned again and again as a way to bring solar on the grid more reliably.
“At this point, [the project] is strictly focused on proving the balancing and load-following ability of demand response,” said Gregg Dixon, Senior VP of Marketing at EnerNOC. “Uniquely, the project is also aimed at helping BPA balance 'high wind' conditions, when wind generation is greater than forecasted. In those cases, we will connect sites that can take on additional load, or in a sense, balance 'peak supply' through demand response.”
Although demand response is not a replacement for distribution automation and upgrades to grid infrastructure, it is likely to be an integral part of how utilities push the limits of bringing high levels of renewables on the grid in the next five to 10 years.
-- Comverge, meanwhile, continues to migrate from being an end-to-end demand response provider to a software and systems company that specializes in energy control. The company released a new version of its IntelliSource platform. The most notable feature is that it can now accommodate dynamic pricing. If a consumer lives in a region with real-time pricing, they can program their smart thermostat to turn down the heat or AC if the price signal rises past a certain level.
Gulf Power in Florida currently offers dynamic pricing and control with Comverge technology, but others could begin to emerge, particularly because dynamic pricing offers a way for utilities to demonstrate how smart grid benefits consumers.
“Regulators are asking, ‘What is in it for consumers?’ It has to pay off in more than just avoidance of meter readers,” said Comverge CEO Blake Young in an interview on the eve of the show.
Comverge also struck a deal with Carrier to incorporate Carrier’s smart thermostats into its system. Historically, Comverge has had to make its own hardware, but that is changing as more traditional hardware makers enter the market. Hardware: everyone is getting rid of it.
Young also noted that at the end of 2010, Comverge had 200,000 demand response customers and its services attached to 11 million devices. The company’s commercial business grew by 70 percent last year.
Although Comverge focused on the C&I sector last year, it’s not leaving behind the residential market. PPL Electric Utility just announced it will use Comverge to support its residential energy management program. Pennsylvania’s Act 129 calls for peak demand to be shaved down by 4.5 percent, mostly from the residential sector -- leaving Comverge well positioned to take a bite of that market. Under the PPL agreement, Comverge will install 50,000 energy management devices.
--Just on the heels of moving into the Cal State system, EnergyConnect is extending its stronghold on offering demand response to colleges by providing its platform to the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities.
The advocacy organization represents 61 institutions, including University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Monmouth College and Wheaten College. Participating schools will get energy-monitoring equipment and access to its web portal, GridConnect.
EnergyConnect has a simple, user-friendly program that can be used by building managers to monitor and curb load. More importantly, the platform lets users respond to all sorts of different price signals, rather than just peak demand events. The flexibility means that universities can curb more power more often throughout the year to meet energy reduction targets or just save money to use elsewhere.
The federation is not the first university group to pick a single DR provider. The Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania has a similar agreement and more than 25 colleges in the state have signed up. Illinois doesn’t have the aggressive DR targets that Pennsylvania does, but that doesn’t mean that schools won’t sign up in droves, especially since EnergyConnect can point to successes just a few states away.
--Tendril, meanwhile, has come out with Energize, a series of applications for home energy management. Basically, Tendril is creating a tiered system for improving energy consumption. At the basic level, Tendril sends out notes to consumers about their energy consumption and ways to improve it, similar to OPower. Tendril bought the capability to do this sort of behavioral service when it bought Grounded Power last year. No new hardware is needed for this service.
When customers get more sophisticated, they can then graduate to a home energy management system, said CEO Adrian Tuck in an interview.
Tuck also gave us a great stat: Tendril bid on 69 different home energy management projects sponsored by utilities in North America in 2010. It won 52 of them.
LIke Silver Spring did last year, Tendril is also beginning to phase out home energy management dashboards. Who needs a $100 LCD on the wall when you already have a phone? Tuck said you might see home screens in low income homes or senior homes, but not in most. SIlver Spring kicked off the console-less home last year when it made, effectively, Greenbox boxless.
--While this announcement didn’t take place at DistribuTECH, it should have, because energy efficiency in data centers is increasingly important to the grid. Data centers also represent one of the few areas where large corporations are willing to invest big dollars to improve efficiency.
Sentilla, which makes tools for analyzing power consumption in data centers, came out with a third version of its Energy Manager software platform. The new trick: the tool will now analyze how much energy and money it takes to run a particular application and how much work the application accomplishes.
“Most data centers run out of power before they run out of anything else,” said CTO and co-founder Joe Polastre.
Historically, Sentilla has analyzed how efficiently and effectively the air conditioners and other cooling technology performed. Now, its software can analyze servers, virtualization strategies, storage devices and other computing assets. It’s a big shift. Data like this can also help companies determine whether they should outsource applications or keep them in house.
Recently, the BBC wound up with egg on its face after a report determined that it spent 57 percent more than anticipated when it outsourced applications.
After 45 days of using the tool, one Sentilla customer found a way to shed 18 percent of its load.