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Energy management software field gets crowded

Demand response software company EnerNoc launches a hosted application for managing corporate energy, an area analysts predict will grow rapidly next year.

EnerNoc, an efficiency software company, today introduced its line of business software geared toward helping companies better control their spending on energy.

The Boston-based company is well-established in the area of demand response; utilities contract with EnerNoc to manage contracts with corporations which agree to dial down energy use during peak times.

Utilities are increasingly tapping demand-response resources as they plan for future power capacity needs. Instead of turning on an auxiliary power plant during a time of high demand, such as a hot summer afternoon, hundreds or thousands of businesses or consumers will agree to scale back electricity consumption.

One of the screens from EnerNoc's efficiency application, showing weather data and how different facilities at a university are meeting energy usage goals.
One of the screens from EnerNoc's efficiency application, showing weather data and how different facilities at a university are meeting energy usage goals. EnerNoc

Demand response companies, such as EnerNoc, provide aggregated demand-side reductions to utilities. The business customers who participate have equipment installed to make the adjustments, such as dimming lights in a store temporarily, and are paid a monthly fee.

Because EnerNoc already gathers energy consumption data from businesses, it can also provide them with a software dashboard to better understand their energy, said Gregg Dixon, the senior vice president of marketing and sales at EnerNoc.

The online application, called EfficiencySmart, lets facilities managers or financial executives, track energy consumption against goals, similar to how accounting and budgeting software track revenue and expenses. EnerNoc can do a "commissioning" where it will recommend energy-efficiency improvements and monitor how mechanical equipment is performing.

By monitoring energy consumption and the performance of building equipment, companies can cut energy use by 15 percent before doing any efficiency projects, such as changing out lighting, Dixon said.

EnerNoc is trying to sell its efficiency software suite to its current 3,500 demand-response customers. At the same time, there are a number of other companies with relatively new applications for managing energy or corporate carbon emissions.

Companies that supply building automation systems to control heating and lighting, for example, offer software for monitoring and controlling energy use. Other demand-response companies, such as Comverge, are also expected to expand into this field.

At the same time, there are several start-ups, including Hara, C3, and ENXSuite, which specialize in managing energy, carbon emissions, and tracking other data such as water and waste. Oracle, SAP, and CA are among the established business software companies with products in this area.

U.K.-based research company Verdantix yesterday released a report on energy and carbon management software where it evaluated 28 companies. It forecast rapid growth in 2011 for sustainable business software because of unpredictable energy costs, greenhouse gas regulations, and more sustainability strategies in businesses.