EnergyConnect is moving into the California university market with a splash in 2011. The demand response company has been awarded a multi-year contract to provide services to the state’s largest public university system, California State University.

Cal State is not new to demand response. The school, which spans 23 campuses and manages a $130 million utility budget, has been curbing kilowatts for more than a decade using various DR programs. Currently, EnerNOC provides demand response services, and will continue to do so, in addition to EnergyConnect. To date, Cal State curbs about 8 megawatts across 11 active campuses, but Len Pettis, Chief of Plant, Energy and Utilities at the CSU Chancellor's Office, believes that there is potential for 15 MW to 18 MW of additional cuts across 19 of its campuses (the others are in municipal territories that are not a part CalISO's DR programs). EnergyConnect, which already works with various universities on the East Coast, is hoping to tap that potential using its GridConnect platform, which allows for more than just traditional event demand response.

The website shows the savings in dollars, not just kilowatt-hours. Instead of some other programs where customers are penalized if they do not dial down their megawatt usage during peak times, price-response programs allow for more carrot than stick.

“They make [demand response] relatively seamless,” said Pettis.

EnergyConnect’s dashboard, and offerings beyond simple DR events, was what earned them the contract, said Pettis. Campuses can respond to any price signal, not just a demand response event, to save money. Although Cal State is no spring chicken when it comes to DR, it is looking for more user-friendly tools to drive more involvement from other campuses.

Because of the variation in campuses across the state, having more than one provider means that the different schools can pick a provider that meets their needs. Some campuses can power down using a touch of a PDA while other locations are using more analog technology. EnergyConnect is hoping that campuses will pick their platform over EnerNOC based on the added bells and whistles that make participation simple.

“We’re thrilled to be selected,” said Rich Quattrini, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at EnergyConnect,  “They’ve been successful, but there’s room to get a lot more campuses on board.”