Strategic Energy Management: A Holistic Approach

Ted Schultz

Last month, Innovation Electricity Efficiency (IEE) held its IEE Partner Roundtable, a select group of innovative technology companies dedicated to advancing innovation and new smart grid technologies with electric utilities. The goal of the roundtable is to bring together key thought leaders from electric utility companies and technology companies in the smart grid space.

Ecova’s Ted Schultz, SVP Utility Solutions, spoke about Strategic Energy Management (SEM), which he describes as a low tech, customer-centric approach to deliver energy savings for smaller commercial customers, those who are hard to reach. Here is what he shared with the participants:

ted-schultz-svp-utility-solutions-300x300“At Ecova, we have the unique advantage of providing energy services to more than 700 commercial clients, representing over 700,000 facilities. And, we work with nearly 50 utilities as part of their energy efficiency (EE) programs. We are engaged on both sides of the meter.”

We know from our work with commercial clients that sometimes, even when they know which facilities are using too much energy, they don’t take action.

In 2010, we began work with Southern California Edison (SCE) to better understand behavior in this space and look for ways to engage commercial businesses on energy efficiency. One of our findings was that the traditional utility approach to most commercial customers does not work well.

For example, a company will be offered a series of one-off transactions to participate in: EE, Demand Response, Renewables and Smart Grid. In EE alone, some utilities have over 200 options to sort through, delivered through more than 50 trade allies. For the commercial customer, this is anything but simple!

With this complexity in mind, we worked with SCE to create a better way. We improved customer engagement with a management system based on continuous improvement—or generating efficiency returns over time. Not a one-time program or implementation. This is starting to be known in the industry as SEM.

It is a holistic approach to lowering energy use where the building and organization are treated as a single system. We then apply a management system methodology based on continuous improvement and engagement of top management. Engagement of top management is critical to get beyond current energy management practices and barriers to taking action.

SEM facilitates a collaborative engagement between the customer and utility to leverage their entire portfolio in a three-year plan which typically includes a systematic way to apply new technology, measure progress and address behavior changes.

“We also made it easy for companies to get involved. In the program with SCE we were able to achieve sustainable energy savings of up to 30% annually.”

Ecova has been at the forefront of SEM program development, and we were honored to participate at the IEE Partner Roundtable.

Want to know more about SEM and how it can benefit your savings objectives? Contact us today.

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