By Justin Bull
April 24, 2014
Last week Pulse Energy announced its biggest deal yet, signing with British Gas and by extension its 600,000 commercial clients, doubling the number of businesses using Pulse’s energy intelligence platform. Clean Capital spoke with David Helliwell, CEO and co-founder of Pulse Energy, about the partnership and the energy efficiency market.
Pulse Energy started in Canada, where provincial regulators established rules and targets that drove the energy efficiency market. “North American utilities want to hit energy efficiency targets, and with our software they can achieve those targets," Helliwell said.
In contrast, the United Kingdom has a competitive energy market where Consumers can choose their providers of electricity and gas. “The fundamental thing is that utilities want to delight their customers,” Helliwell said. By signing up with Pulse Energy, British Gas will provide its commercial clients with monthly updates on their energy use and tips on how to shrink their bill.
Over the past decade, energy efficiency efforts have focused on building retrofits and improving new construction. More efficient lighting, HVAC systems and insulation have reduced the average footprint of a building. But over time, these systems can degrade. By constantly monitoring and evaluating building energy use, the performance of a building can be “tuned-up,” much like a car. Helliwell sees Pulse Energy at the center of this conversation, helping utilities and their clients continually improve energy use.
By helping “tune-up” buildings, Helliwell sees cross-selling as the next growth market in energy efficiency. Pulse Energy’s software can detect if a boiler, for example, is behaving erratically. A utility could alert a client, and offer to repair or replace aging equipment, expanding the utilities revenue base and deepening its relationships with clients. “Our business is a persistence model," he said. "We help fix things that go out of tune over time."
This potential market is massive. North America alone has 25 million commercial facilities that could use Pulse Energy’s platform. Each year North American energy utilities earn about $400 billion in revenue, a third of which comes from commercial facilities. But Helliwell sees a brighter future overseas. “The E.U. and Asia is where new clients are emerging,” he said, noting that higher energy prices and more competitive markets drive utility clients to Pulse Energy.