October 2008

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Leighton J. WolffeEMAIL INTERVIEW Leighton Wolffe & Ken Sinclair

Leighton J. Wolffe, Vice President of Alliances and Strategy, Constellation NewEnergy

Based out of Constellation NewEnergy's Boston office, Mr. Wolffe’s primary focus is advancement of the NewEnergy AllianceSM, a group committed to driving innovation in the building automation industry that will create smarter, more Energy Responsive BuildingsSM.  Together, Alliance participants are working to forge a new electricity demand response model that will surpass the current utility-driven demand response offerings and provide customers with more control over their energy costs.

Mr. Wolffe’s recent work includes providing expert consultation to private equity firms in evaluating and assessing investment opportunities in companies involved in leading edge building integration and distributed energy technologies, and working with manufacturers and developers of intelligent building systems to create and execute national sales and deployment strategies.  Mr. Wolffe developed expertise early in his career implementing energy and information management systems at major university, health care and corporate facilities. 

A Look at the Demand Response Horizon

The next frontier for DR is to move beyond curtailment to leveraging the power of building automation systems that exist within or across collections of buildings such as a university or corporate campus. This future frontier will involve a more holistic or enterprise level approach to energy, referred to as Enterprise DR.

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Sinclair:  Leighton, congratulations on being named Vice President of Alliance and Strategy for Constellation NewEnergy. What exactly is your role?

Wolffe: I am based out of Constellation NewEnergy’s Boston office and one of my main objectives is the advancement of the NewEnergy AllianceSM. As I’ve discussed in the past, the NewEnergy AllianceSM is made up of equipment manufacturers, building automation companies, systems integrators and software application businesses that share a common goal. This goal shared by Alliance members is a commitment to forging a new Demand Response (DR) model and driving innovation in the building automation (BAS) industry to create smarter, more Energy Responsive BuildingsSM.

We believe that the appropriate implementers of Demand Response are the companies that already provide and support building automation technologies such as HVAC, lighting, electrical distribution, switchgear, temperature control devices, etc. These systems already monitor and control most every energy consuming device in a building and their people already know the building, the systems, operating conditions and most importantly – the environmental conditions that must be maintained to ensure regulatory and code compliance. Alliance members are trusted and seasoned service providers to facilities operations and now they can layer energy and demand response expertise into their suite of offerings. The Alliance provides its members the ability to couple energy supply and demand in new ways and to allow full participation in DR programs.

Ultimately, Alliance participants are working together to forge a new DR model that looks to surpass the current utility-driven DR offerings and provide customers with more management over their energy costs.

Sinclair:  That is an ambitious goal. What’s next for Constellation NewEnergy and the NewEnergy AllianceSM?

Wolffe: Well, we have been very busy exploring new markets. For example, the rollout of the DR3 program by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) in Canada has presented a number of opportunities for both Constellation NewEnergy and the NewEnergy AllianceSM. The OPA DR3 program is the most recent solution in a suite of DR programs introduced to help close the gap between electricity supply and demand in the Province of Ontario. This program is also the most intricate program introduced to date as there are very specific rules that govern participation. Therefore, it is crucial for interested parties to work with an experienced energy provider. To assist Ontario’s largest electricity consumers to navigate the complexity of the DR3 program, Constellation NewEnergy has been working directly with its commercial and industrial customers to evaluate where the flexible electricity load exists in a facility, prior to enrolling a participant in program. We have been working with customers to better understand the upfront information they need to feel confident that they can effectively follow through on the commitment to curtail a pre-determined amount of electricity when called upon with short notice.

Sinclair:  The Ontario market in Canada does seem to be ripe for additional growth in demand response. What role do you think the upcoming DR-Expo will play in moving this forward?

Wolffe: The very fact that the DR-Expo is set to take place in Toronto reflects the potential in the region. As you know, the Expo will be taking place from December 8-9 at the Sheraton Center in Toronto, Ontario. It will provide the region’s largest commercial and industrial customers with the opportunity to learn more about the OPA DR3 program, as well as other North American strategic energy programs. We’ll have speakers that will provide detailed and up to date information about US and Canadian utility and ISO demand response programs. Customers and potential Alliance members will gain first hand understanding of the market rules, how to participate and how to leverage existing building automation systems for maximum benefit.

contemporary Sinclair:  Leighton, as a sponsor of the upcoming DR-Expo, what are your expectations for the conference?

Wolffe:  I’m sure this upcoming event will be just as successful as the previous DR-Expos held in Chicago, IL and Santa Clara, CA. Demand response is a hot topic right now, and we are seeing more and more businesses and institutions participating in DR programs across North America. The DR-Expo in Toronto represents an opportunity to learn more about the program and bring together the major players that are helping to bring DR to the Ontario market. I am confident that this event will be successful and I look forward to attending!

Sinclair:  What do you see on the horizon for demand response?

Wolffe: The next frontier for DR is to move beyond curtailment to leveraging the power of building automation systems that exist within or across collections of buildings such as a university or corporate campus. This future frontier will involve a more holistic or enterprise level approach to energy, referred to as Enterprise DR. With Enterprise DR, the entry point for introducing or extracting intelligence from buildings, plants and campuses will be achieved through telemetry served up from energy consuming devices – principally through the BAS system.

Enterprise DR represents an important concept, one which elevates the discussion of technology far beyond a thermostat with radio telemetry or a remote network operating center. Instead of these simple forms of discreet communications between two locations, Enterprise DR makes it possible for Web-enabled devices to allow for a full range of transactions. In this new marketplace, Enterprise DR will both elevate the technology and expand the capability and degree of market interaction that can occur. This will involve the interaction between a wide array of supply and demand pricing and policy signals distributed over the web at the enterprise level to systems and energy consuming devices within buildings. When the building automation systems are configured and tuned to respond these energy signals, a more preferred coupling of supply and demand is achieved; benefiting customers by improving supply pricing options and by reducing demand and exposure to market volatility. Our goal is to create Energy Responsive BuildingsSM. Based on our activities to date with the Alliance Program and the BAS community, we are off to a great start.

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed in this interview are the author’s alone and do not necessarily represent the views of Constellation Energy or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates.


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