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Constellation Energy buys into efficiency with CPower

Energy company buys demand-response company CPower which can automatically dial down power during peak times on the grid, a technology getting more attention from utilities.

Energy company Constellation Energy is making efficiency a bigger part of its power mix.

The company, which operates power plants and distributes gas and electricity, said on Friday it has acquired privately held CPower, which makes demand-response software for businesses.

Demand response is used by grid operators to cut back on power during peak times, such as very hot days when the air conditioning load stretches the power-generating capacity. During this summer's heat waves, a number of regions called on demand-response systems, both with consumers and businesses, to meet peak-time demand.

By buying CPower for an undisclosed sum, Constellation Energy will expand its "demand management" products, the company said in a statement. CPower operates demand-management programs in New York, New England, mid-Atlantic states, Texas, California, and Ontario.

Demand-response companies sign contracts with customers willing to scale back power use at peak times in exchange for some form of payment. Utilities are increasingly contacting demand-response companies because the technology has improved and it's typically cheaper and less polluting than tapping auxiliary power generators during peak times.

CPower says it has 850 megawatts of demand-side resources under management, which will give Constellation Energy 1,500 megawatts of total demand response capacity.