05 Jun [Q&A] EnerNOC’s Tim Healy on Cultivating Energy Startups
In preparation for the ETS@chicago event July 22-23, Zpryme took a moment to catch up with Tim Healy, Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO, EnerNOC, for his thoughts on the proliferation of energy-tech startups, the role of customer engagement in address aging infrastructure, and the most important part of his business day.
[ZP] What’s the most important part of your business day?
[Healy] The most important part of my day is any opportunity I have to interact directly with customers and the products we’re building for them. We’re passionate about changing the way the world uses energy, and hearing our customers talk about their challenges and how our software is part of the solution is critical.
[ZP] How does EnerNOC define energy intelligence?
[Healy] Energy intelligence is about using data to manage energy costs with the same discipline and attention that businesses put against any other major operational line item. Energy intelligence software, or EIS, is an energy decision support system for the enterprise that provides the tools that people across an organization, from finance to plant managers to facilities crews, need to manage energy costs effectively, and gives utilities and energy providers the tools they need to connect with those business customers more effectively.
[ZP] How would you rank the following — power outages, aging infrastructure, customer engagement — by priority for U.S. utilities and why?
[Healy] The utility business model is fundamentally changing and utilities are working hard to adapt. Staying engaged with customers is absolutely critical throughout this transformation, and as an added benefit customer engagement can be a really powerful (and often less expensive) tool to alleviate some of the risks associated with our aging infrastructure and power outages. When utilities understand who their customers are, what flexibility they have, and how to effectively connect with those customers, programs like demand response or energy efficiency can have a huge impact and alleviate some of the stress on the infrastructure.
[ZP] How important is the Midwest to the rest of the US energy ecosystem?
[Healy] With the abundance of generation in the Midwest, the challenges the region faces are certainly different than other areas of the country, but at the core, utilities are still struggling with the same issues: how to adapt to a changing business model where distributed generation plays an increasing role and customers expect a high level of service from their utility. I think the Midwestern utilities and grid operator are as invested as anyone charting a course for how the advanced energy economy ultimately takes shape.
[ZP] What companies outside of your partners get you most excited about a new energy future?
[Healy] We’re super excited about the proliferation of energy technology startups—we need “the next Tesla,” “the next Nest,” and so on. They’re out there, and to that end, EnerNOC invests a significant amount of time and energy cultivating the startup community through organizations like Greentown Labs and Cleantech Open Northeast.
[ZP] What new product and/or initiative can the energy industry expect from EnerNOC this year?
[Healy] A big theme for our roadmap is personalization of energy data — taking “energy wonk” information and putting it into the language that businesses can understand: dollars. That’s the key to helping organizations make better decisions. Most CFOs I know don’t really know the difference between a kilowatt and kilowatt-hour, but they all know about profitability, operating margins, and budget variances.
And in terms of the broader energy ecosystem, we’ve recently announced a few partnerships with companies like Tesla and SunPower, and those are just two of the exciting things the team is working on. I think thematically you’ll see a lot of advancements around EnerNOC being the “brains” of the new grid, working in close collaboration with companies that are providing the “muscle,” like Tesla and SunPower.