bud vos.jpgWith over 15 years of energy industry experience, Bud Vos has in-depth knowledge of and experience with providing high-value software solutions to utilities. As president and CEO of Enbala, Bud is leading the company through the next phase of its business as it continues to expand its energy balancing platform capabilities and applications for the utility market. Previously, Bud worked as the COO of Simple Energy and was also senior vice president of utility sales and the chief technology officer at Comverge, where he oversaw the company’s technology architecture while working with the utility client base to identify and deliver high value projects using smart grid technology.

VS: Can you start by providing our readers a brief overview of Enbala including the vision behind its formation and its current role in the market?

Bud: Since the company was founded in 2003, Enbala has always been focused on one thing: energy balance. More specifically, our vision is to make our electric grids more reliable and sustainable by harnessing the power of distributed energy. For our first 10 years, we were the leader in grid modernization through the intelligent and continuous connection and engagement of the flexible energy inherent in commercial and industrial process loads, and we focused on engaging and aggregating these demand-side resources.

This platform won many awards over the years for its innovation and effectiveness at engaging demand-side loads to improve the grid and deliver positive impacts to the environment. This early platform connected, aggregated and managed energy-using systems like industrial pumps, refrigerators and other loads that can be curtailed or ramped up to meet grid needs for regional grid operators like PJM Interconnection and the Ontario ISO. It has also been used to leverage flexible customer loads to firm wind power for Canadian utility NB Power.

More recently, we launched a new and expanded platform that goes far beyond aggregation of flexible loads and which functions as an energy operating system for the grid edge. Encompassing not only flexible loads but also battery storage, solar, wind energy, flywheels and other grid-edge distributed energy resources, it provides electric utilities and grid operators with the heightened level of control and flexibility needed to manage the technical challenges posed by an increasingly distributed grid.

With our new platform, we have pivoted from being an aggregator to offering software solutions that enable energy service providers and utilities to move from a centralized to a distributed grid and to achieve many new value streams that weren’t previously possible.

VS: Please describe your product/technology/solution for our readers?

Bud: We named our platform Symphony by EnbalaTM  for a reason. When we talk about a distributed energy resource management system – or DERMS  –  the best analogy we came up with is to compare the grid balancing challenge as very similar to the challenges of directing an orchestra.  DERMS success is a function of highly refined orchestration to make sure the loads from thousands of distributed assets are playing together in perfect harmony and in precise tune to the supply and demand needs of the grid.

Our Symphony platform is a DERMS that utilizes advanced, real-time information and communication infrastructure to control, manage and coordinate DERs.  In general, the platform operates on several key principles:

  • Customer-defined participation settings
  • Continuous and real-time energy use and monitoring of each resource in the portfolio
  • Smart forecasting across multiple timescales
  • Multi-layered optimization for prioritizing both local and global value opportunities
  • Dynamic bidding and market interface with transaction and settlement reporting

The platform receives a control signal from the grid operator and continuously optimizes the dispatch of the DER portfolio. A diverse portfolio allows each resource to be dispatched optimally according to its own preferred operational strategy while maximizing value both locally and globally. Local objectives can include peak demand management to reduce energy bills or energy firming for on-site generation. Global objectives can include participation in capacity, energy and ancillary services markets.

VS: What is Enbala’s greatest challenge, and what strategy is in place to overcome it?

Bud: I think that our biggest challenge is that which is often faced by technology companies who are first to market with a disruptive or game-changing solution. Early phases of the new technology adoption cycle are much like trying to convince someone who hasn’t yet heard of email that he should embrace the Internet. There’s no question that there are advantages to being a first mover, but it’s also true that early movers are faced with educating the market and with changing long-entrenched behaviors. And teaching people that there is a new and better way to do things is often a long and expensive road.

Another challenge is product urgency. The issues utilities face with the rapid increase in renewables are creating a new and shifting market dynamic that puts companies like ours into a position where we must develop, test and deploy products very quickly and be prepared for continual – and rapid – evolution.

A parallel reality is the evolution of the technology that we use to develop our platform, that is, making sure that our tech stack is always cutting edge and at the competitive forefront.

That being said, my goal is to always be a first-mover, rather than a follower, because the advantages of being a market leader almost always outweigh first-mover challenges.

VS: What is the unique value proposition of Enbala, and what are your key competitive differentiators?

Bud: There are a number of things that set Enbala and Symphony apart. Core platform innovations include a real-time optimization engine that tracks and updates network states every two seconds based on continual communications from each connected asset. This is unique.

Two other major differentiators are the platform’s ability to provide multiple grid services simultaneously and its non-disruptive, constraint-based operation, which dispatches each asset within customer-defined operating constraints. The result is a control solution that is dynamic and continuous without disrupting customer operations or comfort.

The platform is also technologically agnostic, able to connect to virtually any asset on the grid. It’s scalable, with a distributed architecture that can expand to very large systems by spreading processing power, storage and bandwidth burdens throughout the entire grid.

Another differentiator that is really key is that our platform is not just about controlling distributed assets; it’s about optimizing them. Optimization utilizes reliable and immediate communications across the entire grid network, along with models of how assets perform under different conditions. The economic value of Symphony by Enbala derives from the forecasting, simulation and execution routines that operators can run across the entire grid network to use assets when they are most valuable.

The last important differentiator that comes to mind is that by leveraging our own technology and services, along with those from our growing group of strategic partners, Enbala is able to deliver a full turnkey solution to our customers.

VS: What is your strategy in regards to offering best value to customer for the price, compared to similar offerings from competitors? if any?

Bud: Our core strategy is to ensure that our platform matches the performance specs of our customers, and adhering to this strategy keeps us on track with the continued quality, speed and reliability of what we deliver. We ensure our pricing is fair, scaled to match the size of our customers and their networks, so they’re never paying for more than they need.

VS: Continued innovation is the key to success in this growing industry. How is the process of innovation managed at Enbala?

Bud: Innovation is one of those things that typically works best if it’s not too “processed.” It needs space to breath and, on occasion, to fail. This company was founded by a key group of visionaries who saw possibility where others only saw obstacles, and that spirit remains a key part of our core values. We continue to invest in pilot projects that prove the viability of our ideas, and our fingers are always on the pulse of the industry’s needs, particularly as they relate to our customers. We evolve alongside them, and in fact, part of our service is to constantly seek market opportunities to augment their value streams.

I’m very proud of the four patents we currently hold, as well as the 10 more that have been filed. We never stop innovating, and we never will. That’s what has made us a first-mover and a market leader. The people we hire – their drive, their skills, our willingness to take take risks and the development environment we embrace – ensure that innovation will continue to be at the heart of everything we do.

VS: What do you want the company to accomplish in the next couple of years and how would you define success for Enbala?

Bud: We have three key goals for the next few years, and accomplishing them will mean we have been successful.  One is to expand on our existing customer relationships and projects with the new solutions we bring to market.  Two is to continue to move toward profitability.  Three is to expand our suite of enterprise class customers.

VS: What is your key value proposition that provides your firm a major competitive advantage over other players in the industry?

Bud: That’s a tough question. I think our #1 value proposition is either our advanced optimization software or the Enbala team. I firmly believe that optimization – in addition to control –  is the key that can unlock the full value of distributed energy, and our optimization engine continues to astound me.  But the team that we’ve built at Enbala is astounding as well, mostly because it’s the most passionate group of men and women I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with during my long career in this industry.

VS: Could you elaborate on the acceptance or adoption of your product/technology/solution in the marketplace and are there any positive client testimonials that can be shared with us?

Bud: Enbala currently provides regulation services in a number of key markets, including IESO and PJM. We’re also working with utilities in California and are breaking into the European markets. Additionally, we’re engaged in a number of partnerships with energy service providers interested in integrating their assets with our platform.  In fact, we’ve announced three such new partnerships in just the last few weeks.

A few testimonials are included below:

“Dispatchable demand management is playing an important role in speeding up adoption of green, renewable energy resources and helping to create a better legacy for future generations of Maritimers.”
– Michel Losier, Program Director, NB Power’s PowerShift Atlantic project

“The great thing about Enbala is, with the system turned on and lowering our net cost of energy, we don’t even know it is there. It is invisible to our operations.”
– Dan J. Hufton, Senior Director, Production, Pennsylvania American Water

“Demand-side resources offer another means of cost-effectively enhancing overall grid reliability.”
– Andrew L. Ott, PJM, Sr. Vice President – Markets

VS: Do you foresee the acceptance of your product/technology/solution in the marketplace to have an influence on the direction of the overall market going forward?

Bud: Yes, definitely.  I don’t think there is any question that control – and optimization – systems are needed to unlock the potential of the grid edge. The growth in distributed generation, solar, wind and other forms of distributed energy is phenomenal, and utilities must make investments in the software systems needed to manage all that energy. As more and more distributed energy comes on line, DERMS systems like Enbala’s will proliferate. We are betting that the Enbala platform differentiators that we talked about previously will have a big influence on what our competitors do and say. Imitation is the biggest form of flattery, and we’re already seeing others in the DERMS space embrace the terminology and concepts we have pioneered.

VS: As a general conclusion, what do you think the future holds for such solutions and, more specifically, what role can we expect Enbala to play in shaping the future of the industry?

Bud: As the world progresses over next few decades towards decarbonization, Enbala has a large role in enabling this more sustainable world by providing the technology needed to bring more renewable energy onto the distribution side of the energy system. We are continually building new technology that allows higher and higher penetration of renewables onto our grids, and this is something we are very passionate about.

VS: What are your company’s marketing and product positioning strategies? Do you plan to form any strategic alliances with other client companies?

Bud: We have very aggressive marketing and product marketing programs at Enbala that are based around our understanding of the marketing, our relationships with our customers and strategic partners, work with leading research organizations and collaborative efforts to share industry-shaping thought leadership. We continually or proactively refine our vision of where the market is going and the key challenges facing our industry. Based upon this knowledge, we prioritize the issues faced by utilities, service providers and others as they seek to embrace a distributed energy world – and we create resources to help them face these issues.  Our speaking, blogging and white paper outreach programs have firmly entrenched Enbala into the fabric of our industry and established many of our team members as key spokespersons and industry experts.

Along the same vein, we have already formed many very important strategic alliances with vendors, research organizations and other industry leaders – and are very proactive in cooperatively marketing with these partners. Stay tuned for more partner announcements on the horizon.

VS: What is unique about your company in regards to offering the best and differentiated service experience to customers?

Bud: Innovation is one of the three core competencies embraced by everyone at Enbala, so a big differentiator for us is that we are always looking for innovative and better ways to solve our customers’ problems. From the operations team to our sales team, everyone is focused on infusing innovation and excellence into every customer touch point, right from initial scoping of the project, through training, site analysis and implementation, and on through to post-deployment support.

VS: Please describe the importance and focus of your company towards building and strengthening the brand equity of your offering?

Bud: Enbala has been focused on its brand and its brand equity for many years, even when it was a very young company and not very experienced with such concepts.  Its name was picked to ensure brand stickiness – the combination of ENergy and BALAnce to form Enbala and convey – through the name –  exactly what we’re all about has taken us far in building brand equity.  Our Symphony by Enbala brand – launched last year – is also focused on building brand equity, and we’ve already done a lot to build brand awareness and recognition as we work towards long-term brand loyalty.

VS: What kind of customer feedback mechanism do you have in place to ensure that the product development and innovation matches market and customer needs?

Bud: I mentioned before that innovation is one our three core competencies.  Another is teamwork. We believe that our customer relationships are true partnerships, and in the spirit of partnership, teamwork is a critical element of our customer interaction. We engage with our customers on a weekly basis to refine delivery and support needs to make sure we are always in synch and to ensure that we are always meeting quality goals and performance metrics.

Our last core competency is trust – and these core competencies were defined and have been strongly embraced with every person at Enbala.  Because of this, we are very focused on trusting one another and on doing everything we can to ensure that the bond of trust between us and our customers is equally as strong.

VS: How do you compare yourself with top competitors in regards to offering Best-in-Class solution, with a full complement of features and functionality?

Bud: There are three areas where Enbala really outshines the competition. First, we have been operating in real, live markets for more than four years. In fact, we offer the only commercially proven platform for providing regulating reserves in real-time into a North American market.

Second, we have been selected and are trusted by many of the world’s largest utilities.

Third, we measure our success by how quickly we are adding new megawatts and assets to our system, and we consistently outpace the competition.

VS: What is/are unique features of your product/technology that address unmet customer needs and competitors are unable to replicate and replace?

Bud: From the standpoint of co-optimization, we’re essentially in a class of our own. Other companies can offer specific grid services, like DR or regulation, but we can offer multiple services, simultaneously, including voltage management. This is very unique.

About Frost & Sullivan

For six decades, Frost & Sullivan has been world-renowned for its role in helping investors, corporate leaders and governments navigate economic changes and identify disruptive technologies, Mega Trends, new business models and companies to action, resulting in a continuous flow of growth opportunities to drive future success.

Frost & Sullivan

For six decades, Frost & Sullivan has been world-renowned for its role in helping investors, corporate leaders and governments navigate economic changes and identify disruptive technologies, Mega Trends, new business models and companies to action, resulting in a continuous flow of growth opportunities to drive future success.

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