Utilities and vendors of building energy management systems increasingly find themselves with matching imperatives and interlocking interests, and they are looking to each other to solve some of their most pressing issues. The energy management offerings of the BEMS vendors provide new tools that can be used in energy efficiency (EE) and demand-side management (DSM) programs offered by utilities, while the large customer bases of the utilities offer BEMS vendors access to a host of new clients and client types. According to a recent report from Navigant Research, spending on BEMS by utility customers will total more than $1.4 billion from 2013 to 2020.

“Utilities realize that BEMS can help boost the effectiveness of their EE and DSM programs, which help utilities manage new investments in grid infrastructure and comply with growing regulations imposed upon them by regulators,” says senior research analyst Eric Bloom. “BEMS vendors are in the business of energy efficiency, and many utilities whose revenues are decoupled from energy sales stand to benefit financially from reducing their customers’ energy consumption, so their interests are well aligned.”

The challenges for these programs, however, are not insignificant, according to the report. BEMS vendors attempting to access the utility market face longer sales cycles in dealing with utilities as a client, as well as the task of understanding each utility’s business strategies and regulatory environments. Utilities face similar challenges in working with BEMS vendors. They are looking to BEMS vendors to provide solutions that help them access more of their client base in innovative ways with lower costs and less effort. Several vendors have risen to this challenge by offering “low-touch” or “no-touch” solutions that can access large portions of a utility’s client base cheaply and effectively.