The Race to Become the Energy Partner of Choice

California’s new building energy efficiency standards will see the utility being elbowed by companies wanting to be energy partners.
Published: Wed 30 Apr 2014

California's new building energy efficiency standards which were passed last year will take effect in July.

While the standards will bring out big changes for builders, utilities will also need to prepare themselves for a new era.

From July, every new system in California will need to be outfitted for automated demand response. This applies to building management and automation systems, network lighting controllers, heating ventilation and air conditioning systems, as well as new thermostats.

Open Automated Demand Response-the popular choice

Although the new code does not mandate the use of Open Automated Demand Response, most industry leaders believe that this will be the standard of choice. Open Automated Demand Response’s newest version specifies ways to communicate about electricity price and availability. The system also communicates how buildings can execute and verify that they have fulfilled a demand response request.

Google, which bought smart thermostat maker Nest, is probably already working on its version of Open Automated Demand Response to ensure its devices and services stand out in the crowd.

Most major utilities in California are probably also gaining ground with regards to their Open Automated Demand Response pilots.

Opportunities and threats

Through Open Automated Demand Response, utilities will eventually have a standard way to get to "auto Demand Response" – demand response that is so fast, and so verifiable, that utilities can use it for ancillary services.

But, while Open Automated Demand Response has many benefits to offer utilities, it can also present them with a significant threat-it provides yet another way for third parties to disintermediate utilities.

Google has already made it clear that it wants to be the energy partner of choice for the world’s homeowners.

In addition, many building owners around the US view companies such as EnerNOC or Ecova as their energy partner. Others are also catching onto the trend-for instance Universal Devices, the Encino, California-based maker of smart home hubs and gateways.

Many of these companies are hoping that customers will choose them over the utility as an energy partner.

The changes in California’s new Building Energy Efficiency Standards is set to improve the energy efficiency of homes by 25% and make nonresidential buildings 30% more efficient than the previous 2008 standards.

Further reading:

California Lighting Technology Center-What’s New In the 2013 Code? [pdf]