By Michael Kanellos
EnerNoc (NASDAQ:ENOC) has bought Cogent Energy, a company that provides energy efficiency and building control systems, as part of a plan to become a more comprehensive company.
Cogent provides monitoring based conditioning. What? Commissioning involves setting the systems in the building to provide comfort to the occupants and conserve energy. When everyone leaves or the temperature makes an unseasonal swing, commissioning ensures that the heater or air conditioner will do what it is supposed to do. Unfortunately, most buildings don't sport dynamic conditioning. Often, buildings follow the set-it-and-forget-it rule, which leads to situations where the heater and the air conditioner are on at the same time. Commercial buildings consume about 20 percent of the energy in the U.S. and a lot of it gets wasted.
Commissioning tools like Cogent offers provides autonomic and automatic updating. Data gathered from these systems can also be sliced and mined to further optimize systems. Cogent has more than 200 clients, including the University of California system. EnerNoc actually has some tools developed in house for commissioning, but the purchase clearly accelerates the push.
For EnerNoc, the acquisition is sort of like a door-to-door salesman sticking his foot in the door and worming his way into the living room. The company currently primarily earns its revenue from demand response services. Utilities pay it to curb power at industrial sites and large buildings to save energy, often in peak power situations. The utility pays for the service and the building owners and companies get lower power bills. The company recently reported a $26.6 million quarterly profit, its first since going public in 2007. The company manages over 3.1 gigawatts, about the size of a regional utility in some parts of the country.
In the past year, the focus has been figuring out ways to expand that fooprint. In June, it bought eQuilibrium Solutions, a carbon accounting company. Google, among others, is also expected to move into energy management.