EnerNOC helps Pac-West Telecomm earn payments and identify new ways to save while keeping its mission-critical operation safe
Pac-West Telecomm provides wholesale communication infrastructure services that enable telecommunication carriers to deliver a wide range of integrated services [phone, internet, and more) to their customers—more efficiently and cost-effectively. Carriers partner with Pac-West for its reliable, accessible network as well as its unequaled expertise and capabilities, which have earned it a reputation as a premier “carrier’s carrier.”
In 2009, Pac-West chose DemandSMART, EnerNOC’s comprehensive demand response (DR) application, attracted by the opportunity to receive payments from EnerNOC, as well as to receive warnings about any potential grid interruptions. During DR events, EnerNOC automatically switches Pac-West’s mission-critical co-location facility in downtown Houston to backup generation. This transfer occurs seamlessly, protecting Pac-West’s sensitive equipment and ensuring all-important business continuity. By reducing energy use by 200 kilowatts (kW), Pac-West earns more than $5,000 in annual payments from EnerNOC.
As part of Pac-West’s partnership with EnerNOC, the company receives free monitoring equipment and access to DemandSMART, which provides real-time energy information and insights into opportunities to drive additional savings. In addition to the demand response payments Pac-West received, DemandSMART helped the company uncover $250,000 in unintentional energy overbilling by its property manager—funds that it was able to recoup. And it also discovered ways to save the company $1,500 to $2,000 a month on its ongoing energy costs.
EnerNOC DemandSMART - Emergency Response Service
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Identified $250,000 in overbilling; Reduced energy costs by $1,500-$2,000
Located on the sixth floor of a commercial office building in downtown Houston, Pac-West’s nondescript facility is actually a carrier-class communications switching center. It combines a switch site, data center, and office. And it houses key Pac-West and carrier equipment, including long rows of mainframe computers and servers. “The Houston facility is one of our mission-critical operation centers,” says Kelly Lane, director of switch operations. “And continuous electrical power is critical. If we experience a half second loss in power, all of our equipment drops and has to come back up. That’s why we protect our operation with large battery plants and backup generators.”
The mission-critical nature of Pac-West’s business made Lane cautious about demand response at the beginning. “We wouldn’t usually allow third-party access to our generators,” he says. “Any interruption of power, even a brief one, is a disaster for us and our carriers.”
However, discussions with EnerNOC engineers, as well as with other EnerNOC customers with equally demanding operations (such as corporate data centers and hospitals), convinced Lane that by partnering with EnerNOC, participating in demand response was possible without putting the company at any risk. In fact, he began to see EnerNOC DemandSMART as an opportunity to actually reduce risk by providing more advance notice of any grid issues. And Lane was also attracted by the possibility of gaining new insights into the company’s energy spending, which averaged $17,000 a month at this location. Reducing this considerable expense would be a solid bottom-line advantage to Pac-West.
EnerNOC’s willingness to meet stringent requirements—including clear controls and checkpoints—also raised Pac-West’s comfort level with demand response, and confidence that EnerNOC understood the specific requirements of the telecom business.
For these reasons and more, Pac-West selected EnerNOC as its energy management partner in 2009. Lane and his team saw the EnerNOC DemandSMART application as a great opportunity that would benefit Pac-West in several key ways. It takes advantage of the company’s existing on-site diesel backup generation, putting it to work for brief periods of time and ensuring optimal, reliable operation. Pac-West saw DemandSMART as an innovative way to turn its backup generator costs into an opportunity to earn payments from EnerNOC.
Pac-West also knew that EnerNOC would help the company be more aware of potential grid issues. “We’re on a grid that seems to have frequent minor issues and blips,” says Lane. “So we know the importance of having reliable backup generation in place and fully operational. With EnerNOC, we simply applied this capability in a new way—one that earns us payments. Plus, EnerNOC gives us another set of eyes on the grid, giving us quicker notification of any and all upcoming issues.”
During implementation, EnerNOC engineers installed free, customized metering and monitoring equipment, giving Lane access to real-time energy usage data through the DemandSMART application. “The real-time monitoring of power consumption is a big benefit for us,” says Lane. “With DemandSMART, we can see the energy we’re using at any given time and make changes that lower our costs. In the past, all we had was our monthly bill.”
From EnerNOC’s Network Operations Center (NOC), EnerNOC can also access and monitor Pac-West’s real-time energy usage, as well as remotely activate backup generation when a demand response event is called. “The simplicity of the remote activation appeals to us,” says Lane. Remote transfer enables Pac-West to participate in any DR event, even when no one is at the facility.
During a DR event, EnerNOC simply notifies Lane and his team via cell phone and email. Once approved, EnerNOC transfers Pac¬West’s operations from the grid to backup generation via an Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS). During its first test event in August 2009, all went smoothly, according to William Wardynski, assistant director of network operations. “EnerNOC informed us about the upcoming event and we achieved our load reduction,” he says. “The remote transfer to backup generation was completely invisible to us, thanks to EnerNOC. Our operations continued ahead normally, with absolutely no impact.”
By switching to backup generation temporarily during DR events, Pac-West earns $5,000 in annual payments from EnerNOC. However, the company also experienced an unexpected financial windfall. Through DemandSMART, Lane identified an issue that he had long suspected but was not able to prove—Pac-West was paying for electricity used by other tenants in the office building where it leased its space. “We found that a defective building sub-meter meant that we were paying a considerable portion of the electricity bill for all of the other tenants in our building, roughly doubling our bill,” says Lane. “The problem had been going on for years, resulting in more than $250,000 in overbilling.”
Using data collected via DemandSMART, Pac-West was able to recoup this significant amount from its property manager. “Thanks to EnerNOC, we were finally able to prove that our metering wasn’t accurate,” he says. “If it wasn’t for EnerNOC, we could have continued paying $100,000 extra in electricity costs every year for the next decade. So we received an immediate and impressive ROI for partnering with EnerNOC.”
Receiving payments without creating risk is the key benefit that EnerNOC brings to Pac-West. “The primary driver for our participation in demand response was the opportunity to earn free money from equipment we already had in place,” says Lane. “But we also appreciated the opportunity to know more about our electric grid, so we could ensure that our operation was always protected.” Other benefits that EnerNOC brings to Pac-West include:
Pac-West uses the DemandSMART application on an ongoing basis to learn more about its energy use—and to make changes that save money. “In the past, we couldn’t really tell much about how we were using energy,” Lane recalls. “Thanks to real-time monitoring from EnerNOC, now we can make changes and see the impact immediately. We’ve definitely become smarter and more efficient— and saved 10 – 15 percent on our bill, or $1,500 to $2,000, every month.”
Enrolling in DemandSMART and implementing the program was simple and easy, according to Lane. EnerNOC engineers were efficient, knowledgeable, and able to answer all questions. And during DR events, remote activation of the Pac-West backup generator makes DR even simpler. “EnerNOC notifies us, gets verification, and then does the rest,” says Lane. “It’s that simple and easy.”
By testing its backup generators regularly and under load, Pac-West can be confident in its ability to respond to any and all circumstances—from planned interruptions to unanticipated blackouts. EnerNOC also keeps Pac-West informed of any potential grid issues, so it can be prepared and ensure that its business and its carrier partners (and ultimately, their customers) continue ahead, uninterrupted.
With EnerNOC, Pac-West gains an ongoing energy management partner with wide-ranging expertise, including a suite of powerful applications that address key energy challenges.
Pac-West continues to use DemandSMART data to drive down its energy costs by identifying new ways to save. By knowing more, Pac West can save more—now and far into the future. The company is also exploring enrolling other sites in EnerNOC DemandSMART, based on its success with DR at its mission-critical Houston, Texas facility.