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⚡ "Save Energy. Get Paid."

My Climate Journey

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash

Host: Jason Jacobs
Guest: Cisco DeVries | CEO | OhmConnect
Category: ⚡ Renewable Energy

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[4:45] “Ohm Connect is a 7 year old technology company. Essentially we are a new fangled energy company. The simplest way to describe what we do is that we help our customers save energy, and then we pay them for saving energy. And that seems a little bit bonkers to people, because not only do they save energy and their [utility] bills go down […], but there were also paying them. And people can make hundreds of dollars a year. […] The whole purpose of Ohm Connect is really to make the grid responsive.”

[12:13] “For the most part, we have two really important things we got to get our heads around. The first is, we don't have time to take a brand new technology to scale and have that be meaningful in solving the crisis in front of us right now. We just don't. And the second thing is we don't need it, because we actually know how to do this stuff we need to do. We don't need a lot of new technology. There's lots of good advances we can have and I'm glad people are still inventing and working on stuff. But ultimately, so much of what we have to do to solve the climate crisis is about deploying it at scale. It's about getting it out there.”

[14:22] “A lot of the big blockers are inertia and finance and willingness to push. […] Right now about 3% of people in their homes replace their air conditioning or furnace every year just as a natural occurrence. If we could just get those to change over so that those 3% were changing over correctly to something that was climate efficient. That would be a start. Doesn't solve everything, but it's a huge start.”

[15:02] “If you put in a new furnace this year, you are not replacing it for 20 years, that moment is gone. It doesn't really matter what new technology you come up with, or what new kind of cool furnace you have that could replace that in five years. It's irrelevant. If you don't do it now, you're not going to do it. So how are you able to do it now? And one of the ways you can do it is to finance it. One of the ways that you can have codes require it, one of the ways is, you can just make it cooler and awesome and display it, so your neighbors are jealous. There's lots of tools. Those aren't the sexy things that lots of venture capitalists only want to pay for. I think every day that goes by, we're missing that opportunity. I've spent so much time like that I call on the boring under the hood problems […]. Everyone loves storage. And I hope we have lots more storage. But ultimately, when you start looking at it, we don't have time to get batteries on every single home. We can't do it yet. We can do a lot of other things that are just as helpful like changing over people's furnaces […]. But we're all focused on batteries.”

[22:00] “People join Ohm Connect, we say, reduce your energy use during this hour, when the grid is really stressed, and we'll pay you some money. But only based on the amount of kilowatts you reduce from your usual use. […] You don't have to be home, you just have to use you can go to the movies, whatever you want, but you just have to use less than you normally do.”

[23:09] “[Customers] get a text message [that says], “Hey, reduce your energy for the next hour, we'll pay.” […] So the whole thing is a fun game. It's like frequent flyer miles in a game. So we're like, now's your moment to play the game and make some money. […] So partly, what we're saying is there's really easy small things you can do that save energy in really key times, because the whole premise [of] Ohm Connect is efficiency is changing. It's not about how much less you use. […] It's not just about being efficient all the time. […] It is now about when you use that power, because when you use it is determining our ability to use renewable power to power the grid. So all we're saying is use it in a little bit of a different time. And because I can pay you to do that, it's easy.”

[24:51] “We have done so much with a smart plug, a $5 plug, that I will send anybody in California for free. […] You plug it into your wall and you plug your refrigerator […] or your fan […] or whatever it is and all we're going to do is turn it off for 15 minutes at a time when the grid really needs it. And we're going to pay you to do it and you're not going to notice. […] One plug, which is easily available and very inexpensive, allows us to turn tens of thousands of refrigerators into tens of megawatts of renewable load on demand instantly across the state of California, across Australia, […] in Texas. And that means that we don't have to turn on a […] dirty power plant. It means we don't have to do all kinds of things we would have to do to build out and maintain fossil fuel infrastructure.”

[26:30] “Since 2011 federal law has said any electricity market in the country under federal jurisdiction […] must accept a megawatt of energy reduction, and pay for it the same way that it accepts and pays for a megawatt of production from a power plant. Which means Ohm Connect in California, despite the fact that we have no infrastructure and generate no power, because we can reduce 150 megawatts of power at a time, predictably and reliably, we are a power plant. We're a virtual power plant. We are rated as a power plant by the state regulators. And we are paid by the state energy markets exactly as if we burn to natural gas and pumped electrons into the grid.”

[40:06] “We don't pay our users enough, we want to pay them more. And they should be paid more. Because right now we are bidding every single day, […] 10,000 times a day, every 15 minutes it's happening. And during that we are bidding against, generally speaking out of state fossil fuel resources that would be imported instead of us. […] If we actually got the benefit financially for the transmission and distribution benefits of being local and not having to use that transmission and distribution facility, if […] we're paid for the fact that we're zero carbon, […] the social benefits of paying families who could really use the money rather than burning fossil fuels in their neighborhoods, all of those things are not valued yet. […] Ultimately, we need California, we need the rest of the country to figure out what the value of these clean distributed megawatts are, and actually pay out effectively. And it's probably at least double what we're getting paid.”

[45:12] “If we don't learn to flex demand […] for electricity, we're gonna blow up the grid, and we're gonna blow up the grid long before we get to zero carbon. […] We are quickly getting to the place where renewable energy both local on people's roofs and also wind and solar and utility scale is cheaper by far than any other alternative. The problem is, it's intermittent at night, or determined by when the wind doesn't blow. And we have to get the grid to flex when the demand shifts. The way we deal with that now is burning natural gas. […] We have to be able to flex this demand. […] For folks interested in climate, […] there's nothing that's happening that's more important than flexing demand for electricity so we can add to the renewable portfolio on the grid.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify (Original Title: "Cisco DeVries, CEO of OhmConnect")
🕰️ 47 min | 🗓️ 09/06/2021
✅ Time saved: 46 min

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