A Liberty Lake company that makes energy storage systems for office buildings and other large electricity consumers has been acquired by Enel, a global energy giant based in Rome.
Demand Energy Networks, Inc., which began in 2008, will remain in Liberty Lake and continue to grow, founder and Chairman Dave Curry said Wednesday. The company has 28 employees locally.
“We will be building the company up around our Liberty Lake presence,” Curry said.
Demand Energy’s market primarily has been on the East Coast, including New York City high-rises that use the company’s units to store power during off-peak hours, when electricity rates are lower. The company has carried out 24 projects, including its first international project, in Costa Rica. It also is exploring projects in South Africa, South America and Germany.
The deal will strengthen Enel’s position in the growing battery storage market, said Francesco Venturini, head of global renewable energies for the $45 billion corporation.
“We will expand the development of renewables and storage both in the U.S. and globally, delivering a clean, reliable, high-tech and cost-effective energy solution,” Venturini said in a news release.
Demand Energy was launched on the assumption its customers would be the utility industry, and early on it explored a pilot project with Consolidated Edison, which powers New York City.
“What we realized is the customers were not likely to be the utilities, but actually the utilities’ customers,” Curry said. “And so we found ourselves selling systems in New York City to large, high-rise office buildings.”
The company adapted its products to manage the intermittent supply of electricity from wind and solar power, and since 2010 has built the business selling storage systems to utilities as well as their customers, he said.
“We have been very laser-focused on eastern markets in the United States, more so than western markets,” Curry said. That’s because of the predictable and inexpensive supply of hydropower in the Northwest, he said.
“We’re blessed and cursed with cheap energy here in the Pacific Northwest. There’s very little market for what we do here in the state of Washington, principally because we are the beneficiary of snowfall in Canada,” he said.
Curry did credit the state of Washington and Gov. Jay Inslee with supporting Demand Energy through clean technology initiatives that allowed the company to invest in demonstration projects.
“We have built our business around the recognition and acknowledgment that there’s a global need for this,” he said. “We cut our teeth in New York City, which is not a bad place to prove your worth.”
Curry said, “We’ve managed to persevere through extremely challenging times and markets, and the company is very proud of what we’ve achieved. … This didn’t happen in Seattle, this didn’t happen in California; this happened in Spokane.”
Curry said he plans to remain closely involved in Demand Energy. He formerly was CEO of Spokane Valley-based World Wide Packets, producer of fiber-optic Lightning Edge components. World Wide Packets was sold in 2008 to a Maryland telecom-equipment company for about $290 million in cash and stock.
Terms of the Enel-Energy Demand deal were not released. Enel operates in over 30 countries and serves more than 61 million end users. It has 62,500 employees.
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