The changing energy template is like a game of musical chairs: when the music stops, the players need to have a place to sit or they are out of the game. The same is true now that the electricity suppliers are compelled to become full-service energy consultants — or those who can help their major clients navigate the market place.
What once was a system whereby utilities generated power from centrally located plants and transmitted that energy over the wires to their customers at a given price is withering. Not only do big companies want greater controls over the energy that they consume and the prices that they pay but they also want to implement more onsite, or distributed energy, whereby they can power their own facilities through such things as rooftop solar panels by using localized microgrids.
“We see this more as opportunity than a threat,” says Ted Craver, chief executive officer of Edison International, which held a conference in Irvine, Calif. on Tuesday to unveil its new competitive business unit Edison Energy that would provide such services.
“We see an explosion of distributed energy resources, as opposed to central generation,” Craver adds. In the case of Edison, it says that the billions it is spending on upgrades goes predominately to its networks — that it only owns about 15 percent of the generation that its customers consume. The other 85 percent is purchased on the open market, meaning that the company is ideally suited to consult with its major customers about how to reduce their energy consumption.
To that end, Edison Energy hired ReD Associates to dig into how much corporate energy managers know about their energy purchases and energy consumption and whether they had the support of their corporate c-suite when it comes to tackling those issues — especially important as companies try to meet their sustainability goals, all in the context of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan and the recently-concluded global climate talks in Paris, COP21.