Encentiv Energy lures companies into efficiency savings

According to Stephen Moritz, president and CEO of Encentiv Energy, energy efficiency is the cheapest form of energy.

His company, located in East Pittsburgh, helps non-residential buildings with energy efficiency programs and incentives.

The staff even assessed their own building; Mr. Moritz says the landlord could be doing a lot more to save energy.

“They replaced all the lighting fixtures, but the windows are horrible,” the 41-year-old said.

Encentiv Energy, formerly known as AllFacilities Energy Group, was formed in December 2009 after Pennsylvania adopted Act 129 in 2008. The act required state utility companies, such as Duquesne Light and PPL Electric, to hire experts to help them meet an energy savings goal of 3 percent by May 2013. If they didn't meet the goal, they could have faced fines as high as $10 million, Mr. Moritz said.

“There was a lot of interest not to get penalized, so we were able to help them achieve their goal through the end of the first phase of the program,” Mr. Moritz said, adding that all of the companies that worked with Encentiv Energy ultimately made it.

“States have found that the cost to build a new power plant is generally 6-to-8 cents per kilowatt hour. The cost to run one of these energy efficiency reduction programs is half of that. It is absolutely the cheapest way that we can avoid needing to build new infrastructure," he said.

The company changed its name from AllFacilities Energy Group to Encentiv Energy last October as part of a re-branding initiative, Mr. Mortiz wrote in an e-mailed statement.

"All of our contracts, employees, etc. stayed the same. The reason behind the re-branding was that one of our founders has another company called AllFacilities Inc. that does call center support work. There was a lot of confusion about the two companies but they were always separate legal entities," Mr. Mortiz wrote.

Aside from utility rebates, Mr. Moritz's company also helps customers identify financing sources for projects. The company has worked with Allegheny County, the Canon-McMillan School District, UPMC, the West Penn Allegheny Health System, DuPont, Walmart and the City of Philadelphia.

The business has expanded from a staff of four to 17 in the past five years. They have hired six new employees since November and are looking to hire more in the future.

Mr. Moritz cited project volume as the reason for his company's growth. Last year Encentiv Energy completed 2,200 projects. They have already exceeded that number this year, he said.

“We think about our work in terms of energy efficiency projects we’re able to accomplish each year,” he said.

The company isn't limited to work in Pennsylvania, either. Encentiv Energy has helped companies all across North America and Canada through its new online platform, Encentivizer, which helps contractors and customers evaluate their energy-saving options for upcoming projects. It also helps get such projects pre-qualified for financing programs.

Encentiv Energy also helped Monroeville Mall reduce its heating and air conditioning consumption based on the number of customers walking in and out of the shopping center.

“We helped them figure out what the optimal energy savings would be for the mall and we were able to get them a six-figure rebate from Duquesne Light to pay for it,” Mr. Moritz said. “It was such a success for the company that owns Monroeville Mall that they’ve now hired us for all their malls across the country.”

Though there are benefits, he said there is still a low participation rate of building owners and operators doing everything they can to reduce energy use. “There’s no question that there’s a lot of customers that don’t move forward with energy efficiency because they lack the financing and incentives to do so," Mr. Moritz said.

In some programs across the county, especially for smaller commercial customers, utilities will pay for 80 to 90 percent of the changes that a customer is willing to make; sometimes even 100 percent, he said.

"Customers don’t even know that," Mr. Moritz said.

Madasyn Czebiniak: mczebiniak@post-gazette.com

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