As complexity of energy solutions grows, utility consultancies target C&I customers
The president of Edison International’s new consulting service says there’s opportunity in an all-in-one approach to power advising
Retail sales of electricity will decline in the residential sector this year, a macro trend that has utilities changing the way they do business and sell energy, while also fueling a wave of consolidation in the industry.
But on the commercial and industrial side, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts sales will rise – from 6.35 billion kWh/day in 2015 to 6.41 billion this year, and 6.48 billion kWh/d in 2017. It’s a marginal uptick, but it represents an opportunity for companies capable of providing large-scale integrated solutions to a customer segment facing an increasingly complicated and competitive energy marketplace.
“Large C&I end users are increasingly looking to take more active management of and control of their energy bills and usage,” points out Andrew Mulherkar, Grid Edge analyst with GTM Research. But at the same time, “technology has reached a point where you can roll out not just one-off solutions but portfolios that meet the needs of specific end users.”
That portfolio-based approach opens up a growing opportunity for companies capable of bringing it all together. Most recently, Edison International, the parent company of regulated utility Southern California Edison, formed a consultancy to provide “energy as a service” to large customers.
Edison Energy, the new company, will partner with C&I consumers to direct their energy usage across the spectrum, from efficiency projects to the procurement of power contracts or development of on-site energy storage.
“We’re focused on the largest users of electricity and natural gas, and our business model is to be an adviser and a systems integrator of whatever solutions are required to meet their objectives with energy,” Allan Schurr, President of Edison Energy, told Utility Dive in an interview at the Energy Thought Summit last month in Austin, Texas.
Through launched only last month, Edison Energy is already a major player in the space thanks to the combination of four companies providing energy consulting services. And it joins several other big names working in the space — including some electric utilities. Names like GE, Schneider, Constellation and Consolidated Edison have all formed similar ventures.