Enerknol: Solving Energy Policy Pain Points

Breaking Energy 2013-09-13

Youth Rally For Change In Energy, Climate And Economic Policy

Ever tried to find out who is in charge when it comes to energy policy? With literally hundreds of agencies and regulators at everything from the local level through state and regions to DC-based policy-makers and even the President, the level of complexity when it comes to understanding energy policy isn’t just frustrating, it is counterproductive for investors, companies and analysts trying to ease the flow of investment to crucial infrastructure.

“Energy is highly regulated, so anything in the private sector is intrinsically linked to the public sector,” Energy Solutions Forum founder Angelique Mercurio told Breaking Energy recently. “Companies are missing out on identifying risk, and they are wasting a lot of time and money.”

The physical distances and logistical obstacles between regulators, resource developers and financial centers all contribute to the problem, ESF Co-founder Emily Bjorklund said. Everything from disclosure requirements to mapping differs sufficiently across operating regions that basic research for projects and compliance becomes time-consuming and costly across the sector, from oil and gas companies to utilities and financial evaluations.

Noting that these are the very issues technology is best suited to solve, ESF is testing out the latest iteration of its Enerknol platform, an online dashboard product that brings together relevant filings, mapping tools, calendar tools and analysis from the firm’s growing research team. Select product participants have been given access after a careful selection process and ESF will use feedback from its first community of users to build a product that is ready to go to market.

“Energy policy information is constantly changing, highly fragmented and there’s no one-stop place to track it all,” Mercurio said, highlighting the problem the New York City-based startup is seeking to solve.

ESF is a small start-up for now, but its owners and early employees are leveraging decades of experience in energy, finance and policy. Mercurio is a Wall Street veteran and Bjorklund has a mix of energy and finance experience, while other members of the team have strong policy backgrounds and technology cred. The firm was the founding sponsor of New York Energy Week (of which, full disclosure, the author of this piece was a board member and participant).

Initial review of the product is one of those ah-ha moments when the user wonders how this hasn’t been done before. Bjorklund points out that it is currently considered a career skill to be able to even find the information gathered on the Enerknol platform, but the new platform makes it easy for all market participants to find and use the data. ESF is leveraging its existing expertise in energy policy (their policy updates run regularly on Breaking Energy) and in popular events calendars, a sideline that has built out their mailing list and forms a key part of their offering at Enerknol, where subscribers can be kept abreast of key policy developments.

Mercurio and Bjorklund take iteration and improvement of their product seriously, and ahead of their most recent rollout have been going to industry leaders for comprehensive and detailed feedback. From private equity and hedge fund investors to energy producers and utilities, they’ve been testing pain points for various industry sectors and note that while the dashboard has the ease of a single point of entry, the experience is customized for the needs of each sector.

Beta users are currently trying out Enerknol, and ESF’s founders are excited about adding more “lighthouse customers” whose use of the platform to solve their energy policy risk evaluation and analysis challenges will form a base for broader and accelerating industry adoption. They are currently adding partnerships to the platform as a way of expanding both their audience and maintaining constant improvement in the volume and quality of information they can offer users.

It has only been a year since ESF moved into New York City’s ACRE incubator to kick off developing its business, and both Mercurio and Bjorklund say they’ve been impressed by the “incredible” feedback on their platform. “There’s been a need for this product for a long time, and all of our customers and partners are excited,” Mercurio said.

For more about ESF and Enerknol, click here and here.

This article appears on Breaking Energy as part of an ongoing editorial relationship with ESF.