Energy demand response in action at New York data center operator

Data center operator Telx keeps better tabs on its energy demand with a service from energy information management company, EnerNOC.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

How would you like to get paid for reducing your energy draw off the grid during times of peak demand? The answer was a no-brainer for hosting and co-location facility Telx, especially since the company had already invested in a back-up generator for its data centers.

Telx has allied with EnerNOC (which stands for Energy Network Operations Center) to get smarter about how it uses power, during fluctuations across the grid. EnerNOC is a technology company that works with major utilities and grid operators across North America to keep tabs on the health of their networks. Around this data, it has developed a number of services such as the demand response option that Telx uses, as well as a carbon accounting system called CarbonTrak that is used by businesses to keep tabs on their carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas footprints. One of the most recent customers for CarbonTrak is the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, which was just named one of the greenest hotels in America by ForbesTraveler.com.

Gregg Dixon, senior vice president of marketing for EnerNOC, says the company helps utilities and businesses get real-time visibility into their energy consumption patterns, predicting when behavior might need adjustments. For utilities, this sort of data can help thwart costly brownouts and worse. For businesses, there's a similar benefit, along with the promise of better efficiency. Dixon says EnerNOC's services traditionally help drive 8 percent to 12 percent savings in terms of energy costs.

"Once we help them consume it more efficiently, we help them buy it more efficiently," Dixon says.

In the case of Telx, the company opted to team with EnerNOC in order to better understand when it should switch over to generator power, to ensure consistency of services for its own 700 distinct customers across the United States.

Michael Terlizzi, executive vice president of operations for Telx, says the company is given advance notice when a demand response event might be needed (usually a warning that is about 20 hours in advance of a potential event)."It gives us a more in-depth look into the utility than an operator would normally have," he says.

If Telx DOES switch over to back-up power to help out the utility, it is compensated by the utility. EnerNOC gets a percentage of that fee. "Essentially, they compensate us on our ability to remove power from the grid," Terlizzi says. Typically, this might happen maybe two to three times a year.

Another benefit is that Telx has more visibility into its historical usage patterns. This enables the organization to better plan for new services and technology investments as it expands its own services.

Think about it, Telx is being paid for something it has been doing anyway. And it is helping with new business development. How smart is that?

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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