Energy Performance Monitoring in the Big Apple
A Conversation with Leo Cutone, Cutone & Company Consultants, LLC
Leo Cutone of Cutone & Company Consultants, LLC, is an energy service consultant using Onset web-based monitoring systems for monitoring energy performance of buildings throughout New York City. We recently spoke with Leo about how the systems fit into his business strategy.
Onset: For which types of projects are you using the new HOBO U30 web-based monitoring systems?
LC: We use the systems as part of the demand response program in New York City. This program will pay buildings that pledge to reduce their electrical demand during emergencies. We use the HOBO U30 to verify that the building owner actually implemented a reduction demand protocol.
We obtain cash grants from the New York State Energy Research & Develoopment Authority (NYSERDA) to offset the cost of energy-efficiency projects. Last year, we won an “Outstanding Energy Service Company” award from NYSERDA.
Onset: Why did you select the HOBO U30 GSM cellular communications model vs. Ethernet or Wi-Fi?
LC: When I used to run metering systems through a customer's Intranet, the IT department would see it on their network, not know what it was, and disconnect it. This happened all the time. And then, when you call up the IT department of a school or hospital, for example, they often don’t know what you’re referring to. This ultimately meant that I’d lose money, because you have to actually report data to get paid.
By going with cellular, I’m able to bypass company intranets and IT restrictions, and the price is comparable to the other systems I’ve used. And Onset takes care of data storage on their HOBOlink® website and gives me access to the data whenever I need it.
Onset: How often do you access the data?
LC: Generally once a month for reporting, but I do check it randomly throughout the month with my iPhone to make sure someone didn't cut the meter off or unplug it. I only need the actual data once a month. HOBOlink also allows clients to see the data if they want to. We give them a public link where they don’t have to log in. This is useful, for example, if they had a big demand charge one month and they want to look into it.
Onset: What is the hardware installation process like?
LC: It’s minimal setup. As long as there’s a cellular phone signal at the site location, the technician just has to mount it to the wall, plug in the battery cable, and it starts working. The nice thing is that it’s a plug-and-play system and I don’t have to put various parts together like the cellular modem and the logger.
Onset: Do you offer performance monitoring services outside of demand response?
LC: Yes, we have a lot of projects where we monitor a building’s energy performance for third party verification of how systems are operating. We get paid to implement these monitoring efforts, and customers can get performance-related bonuses. With some of these projects, I use stand-alone data logging devices and leave those on site for a month and then come and pick them up so I don’t need the remote communications.
Onset: How many U30 systems have you deployed in Manhattan?
LC: To date, we’ve deployed eight systems and we may have a need for 20 more this year. Overall we’re happy with the product, and Onset appears to be a company that has actually listened to the marketplace and come out with a feature set that is right for the market.