Johnson Controls Buys EnergyConnect’s DR Dashboard

EnergyConnect, one of the players in the world of software-assisted demand response, is joining the big leagues. Building controls giant Johnson Controls (s JCI) announced Thursday it intends to buy the Campbell, Calif.-based company for $32.3 million.

EnergyConnect’s GridConnect platform serves up demand response dashboards to end-users — factories, office buildings, retail stores, etc. — that want to have some insight into what they’re turning on and off to meet utilities’ needs, and how much they’re getting paid for it.

It’s not exactly a startup: EnergyConnect got started in 2004 and had sales of $30.9 million in the first nine months of 2010, up 62 percent from the same period in 2009, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The company sells software, rather than demand response, and works with partners including Serious Energy, Cisco (s CSCO) and — no surprise — Johnson Controls.

The main difference in EnergyConnect’s platform, CEO Kevin Evans told me last month, is its end-user interface. Most demand response today is done either through old-fashioned phone calls and emails, or as a service from big aggregators like EnerNOC (s ENOC), Comverge (s COMV) or Constellation Energy.

GridConnect, on the other hand, is designed to give customers competitive information to choose the best demand response deal, Evans explained. The dashboard gives customers detailed information on how much power they’re turning down, indexed against different utility programs and how much they’re worth.

Evans insisted that EnergyConnect was unique in its customer-facing capabilities, though he noted Constellation Energy’s recently launched VirtuWatt platform emulated it in some respects. Indeed, giving customers greater insight into how they’re playing into demand response markets is something all the big companies in the field are working on.

In the past year, Lockheed Martin (s LMT), Honeywell (s HON), General Electric (s GE) and a host of other corporate giants have rolled out integrated demand response platforms. EnerNOC and Comverge are also busy rolling out platforms that can expand their interaction with customers, to include variable power pricing information or smart meter connectivity.

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Image courtesy of Mrlins via Creative Commons license.