When it comes to demand response, there’s big commercial and industrial and then there’s aggregating tens of thousands of homes. Most of the companies that run demand response programs focus on one on or the other. Except for Comverge.
Comverge’s revenue is split nearly evenly between the two markets, and news announcements bounce back and forth between new capabilities for homes to novel features for business.
The latest is the Energy Navigator, a demand response portal for commercial and industrial customers, which provide about $100 million in revenue for Comverge. “We’re providing tools to automate participation in PJM energy markets,” said Jason Cigarran, vice president of corporate marketing and communications for Comverge.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Order 745 ruled that economic demand response needs to be paid the full wholesale price (when it’s above the net benefits threshold), whereas before it was paid the difference between the wholesale price and the retail price for generation and transmission. The changes have already been put in place by PJM and prices for economic demand response have increased.
The PJM Interconnection contains nearly 40 percent of Comverge’s commercial business, with the rest in New York ISO, New England ISO, Texas’s ERCOT and a handful of utility programs.
Energy Navigator will offer basic analysis and charting tools and integrate both real-time and forecasted data from PJM. Future iterations will support the other grid markets where Comverge works.
Unlike many other tools, which are primarily to track energy use in buildings and claim they can be used for demand response, Energy Navigator is all about supporting participation in energy markets. The cloud-based portal shows granular data of how energy is being used to help facility managers understand how to maximize load shedding.
In the future, the platform will also support ancillary markets, such as spin and non-spinning reserves. In PJM, demand response from buildings to microgrids to EVs can participate in a variety of energy and ancillary markets.
Demand response and energy efficiency, supported by tools that can leverage all of the data that has started to come from buildings, are becoming two parts of the same whole. EnerNOC (NASDAQ: ENOC), another large demand response aggregator, already has more than 200 million square feet as part of its energy efficiency business. More companies are developing platforms that can help firms take demand response payments to fund energy efficiency upgrades, something the Energy Navigator might be able to do in the future.
Like its competitors, Comverge wants to be the trusted energy advisor for customers and to be seen less as a demand response company and more as an energy infrastructure services company. “This is just the beginning,” said Cigarran. “You need to have these tools and services to be competitive. “