Advisory Firm of the Year: The Structure Group

Enerrgy Risk Awards 2010

US energy consultancy The Structure Group grew its revenue from energy trading and risk management (ETRM) by an impressive 40% last year, expanding into renewables and emissions markets and landing it Energy Risk’s 2010 Advisory Firm of the Year.

Structure’s offerings cover the full spectrum of business advisory and systems integration consulting services across the energy and utility verticals. According to Baris Ertan, Structure’s ETRM practice lead, 2009 was a “blowout year”. It conducted over 20 successful client implementation and integration projects across many of the leading vendor products, including Allegro, OpenLink, Triple Point and SunGard. The past 12 months have seen the firm take on major projects with over 50 top-tier utilities and energy companies, including Exelon, Entergy Nuclear Power Marketing, Bruce Power and JP Morgan. “Our ETRM consulting practice is now larger and has more practical experience than the energy divisions of most of the big consulting firms,” says Ertan.

While the company has been around for more than a decade providing ETRM consulting services, over the past 18 months Structure has solidified its position as a leading business advisory provider. “In 2009 we emerged as a provider of upfront strategic advisory services,” he says. “Prior to that, we focused primarily on systems integration and did a fair bit of clean-up on failed or incomplete implementations,” says Ertan. “That’s really where we cut our teeth and built the depth of expertise across the market-leading ETRM vendor offerings that we use today to advise clients earlier in the process.”

Typical projects for Structure involve a combination of business and IT strategy, process definition, project and program management, systems implementation and technical integration. Most of its work is contracted directly with clients, although in certain circumstances Structure will partner with software vendors or other providers in order to give clients a single contract structure.

One of the major new growth areas for Structure has been in the renewables and emissions sectors. The firm has helped energy companies with a variety of projects in these sectors, including advising a start-up global emissions trader and evaluating potential carbon impacts on trading processes for energy merchants.

“Structure views the evolution of emissions and renewables as a game-changer that is creating the same scale of opportunities and risks as the launch of competitive wholesale power markets and the emergence of the energy merchant sector of the late 1990s,” says David Shepheard, principal at Structure. “A decade ago we built our reputation with clients by tackling some of the toughest problems of the energy merchant business, and we continue to help clients build competitive advantage as the energy and utilities markets evolve.”

The Structure team covers ETRM from end-to-end with an array of technical expertise on power, natural gas, coal, petroleum and refined products across front-, middle- and back-office areas. The group maintains this level of expertise through employing experienced staff who have previously worked for energy companies, ETRM software vendors or energy consulting firms.

In June 2009, the sale of the firm’s nMarket software product group allowed the group to deepen its energy advisory services and become fully independent of any software interests. “The strategic sale of nMarket really opened up the market for us,” says Ertan. “We have found that our unique combination of independent business advisory services, coupled with deep ETRM systems implementation skills, is in high demand in the marketplace.”

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