A Florida university told us it wasn’t happy with its energy efficiency program. The school had partnered with an energy service company (ESCO) in a project that cost $12 million. The college had agreed to share savings with the ESCO. But on top of sharing the savings, the ESCO also was charging the college high service fees. As a result, the college was not seeing the cost savings it had expected.

We hear this frustration again and again with the prevalent ESCO model.

The school came to us as part of an initiative by Private Energy Partners to develop microgrids at 106 colleges. Private Energy Partners devised a plan to cut most of the college’s $6 million monthly electric bill with energy efficiency and a microgrid that includes combined heat and power, renewable energy and energy storage.


Step 1

Apply analytics to the data in the Cloud and design the project. Start by reducing energy consumption with low-cost no-cost measures, such as equipment sequencing changes.

Step 2

With energy consumption lowered, design a right-sized, on-site energy configuration. The distributed energy system will serve all of the university’s demand.

Step 3

Figure out what to do with the money saved.

The university’s energy economics look very different upon completion of the project. Once the college is almost entirely off the grid, it will pay only minimal monthly utility charges. Part of the money that would have gone toward utility bills before – about $1 million per month – instead covers the debt for the university’s new $20 million on-site energy facility. Nearly $5 million/month remains available for the college to apply to other projects, equipment, programs or infrastructure.

So the university ends up with a more reliable, efficient and clean energy system – plus capital for improvements elsewhere.