Data and Devices Bringing Transparency to Energy Use

Hugh Scandrett, vice president of engineering for the energy management company EnerNOC, is helping bring transparency to an energy system that works against clarity. The goal: help companies realize more cost savings, extract more value, and cut back on energy usage.

As vice president of engineering for the energy management company EnerNOC, Hugh Scandrett is deep in the trenches of bringing energy management applications for the smart grid to a wide variety of companies — utilities as well as commercial, institutional, and industrial customers.

Scandrett joined the Boston-based company in 2011, and as head of engineering he leads the company’s software development, engineering, quality assurance, and R&D teams. EnerNOC supplies guaranteed electrical capacity to commercial end-users, utilities, and wholesale energy suppliers, and accompanies that capacity with energy intelligence software. It helps companies figure out how they buy energy, when they’re seeing the highest demand, and how to optimize their usage.

In a conversation with Sam Ransbotham, an associate professor of information systems at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College and the MIT Sloan Management Review guest editor for the Data and Analytics Big Idea Initiative, Scandrett says that being able to predict energy usage is key to saving money, and explains why turning on the AC at 7:00 a.m. on a hot day can be more efficient than waiting until 8:00 a.m.

From a data perspective, what is important to EnerNOC?

The key value EnerNOC delivers to its customer is the technology and best practices to help companies become more energy consciousness, energy efficient, and essentially save money and improve operations.

We do that by focusing on three key areas: The first is how you buy energy, the second is how much you use, and the third is when you use it. Those three things come together to make a big difference in how much you spend for your business’s energy.

In the past I was a chemical engineer, and there was a guy at a plant in the Tennessee Valley concentrated on peak electricity. He focused on that meter and made sure that we didn’t go over the past peak.

Yes, that’s part of “when you use it.” You’re billed not just for how much you use overall, but how much is the maximum stress you put on the grid. Going over peak typically incurs what’s called a demand charge.