Hi, my name is Matt Duesterberg. I started OhmConnect five years ago to help shift our electricity world into a clean, sustainable one. As crazy as it sounds, the electricity sector has not really changed much over the past 100 years, but the lowering cost of renewables are starting to shift the sector. One of the challenges is how to balance the grid with renewable supply.

OhmConnect pays users to reduce electricity during the times when the grid needs to balance renewables (think when the sun goes down, a cloud goes overhead, or a spike in electricity usage occurs). Instead of paying a dirty power plant to come on, we pay users to reduce electricity. We currently are connected to users in California and Toronto, Canada via connections to PG&E, SCE, SDG&E, and Toronto Hydro.

I have been amazed by the interest and excitement about OhmConnect. With just a team of 20, in a small office in San Francisco, we have built four large “virtual power plants” that are replacing the use of dirty, gas generation.

When I started my career, I was trading electricity futures on the east coast. The job was lucrative, but when I really thought about what I was doing, I realized that more needed to be done. I wanted to make a difference. I think we all have the desire to make sure we are able to see humanity continue forward and prosper, but do not know how to combat some of the looming societal challenges, such as climate change. I built OhmConnect to provide that pathway. You can make a difference and we are putting the power in your hands to do so.

Sorry for the long introduction. Feel free to ask me anything!

Proof: https://imgur.com/a/cOMlFxs

UPDATE: Happy earth day everyone! Be sure to get out and enjoy the sunshine :)

Comments: 46 • Responses: 19  • Date: 

mskujins35 karma

Hi Matt, I'm Matt.

Been using OhmConnect in Toronto for about a year now. I've attained Platinum status, but as it stands... I've earned all of $10 to my name.

Any tips on earning more, or is $10/ year typical?

caughtBoom20 karma

Some of the goals are super aggressive and I'm not sure they are accurate. Constantly get asked to use 0.0003kHw. I've shut off my breaker for an hour and still went over.

ohmconnect8 karma

The California ISO (CAISO) calculates your forecasted usage (aka baseline) based on the prior 10 days at a given hour. While we have to use this calculation, we have worked to get a forecast that is more reflective of your actual usage. One of the things we have seen is that as we are one of the first companies working with the actual data, we are finding sometimes that data is inaccurate. If you are seeing a 0.0003 kWh requirement, that is likely because you either have solar or perhaps have a broken meter.

ohmconnect10 karma

The amount that you earn is dependent on two things: 1) the amount of kWh saved and 2) the market value of the #OhmHour. If you are a low energy user from the beginning and do not typically use more than 1kWh during a given #OhmHour, you may not earn more than $50 / year. That is simply because you don't have as much energy to save (and therefore negawatts to create).

As for the market value of an #OhmHour, we typically see major hours in the winter and summer drive much higher value. For example, on June 21st, 2017, we had a single two hour #OhmHour that was equal to the value of six normal #OhmHours. We also had one of these large value #OhmHours in September 2nd, 2017. We consider these "MEGA" #OhmHours, and you'll be hearing more about those "MEGA" #OhmHours as we get into the summer.

Tiramimoo12 karma

There was a marketing referral bonus for $30 but your platform never claimed it. Also, the ways to generate any actual earnings for your users are quite low. I’m not sure what the monetization in the future looks like for your company but as I see it now, the incentive isn’t high for me to keep using it.

What’s your revenue source from this? How do you see people actually integrating this into their daily lives? And how about less intrusive notifications? (My email and texts are being bombarded)

ohmconnect4 karma

We get paid from the energy markets who pay us in negawatts.

For less intrusive notifications, I recommend going to the settings page - https://login.ohmconnect.com/settings - to receive notifications more aligned with what you are looking for.

OhSassafrass8 karma

How come every time I opt out, that never gets recorded and then I get $ deducted from my account? I’ve tried reporting it a few times and it gets reversed, but it’s getting kind of tiresome to opt out and then get the “you went over” email.

I initially was enthused about this program, and greatly reduced my energy use overall. But now I’m finding it impossible to go lower. Due to the targets being built off past 2-4 weeks usage, there no way for me to “win” anymore, unless I throw the main breaker (which I’ve done, and my kids were NOT happy about the melted ice cream).

ohmconnect5 karma

Apologize about some of the challenges we have had. As a new program, we have run into a number of bugs as we try to build virtual power plants from software. We have worked through some of these opt out issues but unfortunately, some still persists. I'm sorry you've had to go through our customer support to get corrected. All I can ask is you to bear with us as we try and get everything correct operationally.

Aharaha6 karma

Why is there a picture of a cell phone on your wall?

ohmconnect8 karma

Haha, good question - we constantly look at different features from other products that we like to see what would be useful to include at OhmConnect.

skatastic575 karma

What would you say to someone who says that a service like yours is, at best, a second best solution and that we should instead charge users dynamic prices so that everyone is a subject to the same volatility as the wholesale market?

ohmconnect2 karma

I don't know if dynamic prices will ever be accepted by the customer. I don't think that customers want to think about how much their electricity costs every 5 minutes. Instead, I see OhmConnect as a bridge to where we have our electricity usage being dynamically managed for each of us, by some third party (could be OhmConnect, could be someone else). I see a future where we have our electricity needs met without any inconvenience to ourselves, all the while balancing our grid needs. For example, my small studio apartment in SF is well on its way. I have three smart plugs that turn off 80% of my electricity (including my fridge) during the #OhmHour and I don't do much except be aware not to turn on major appliances during that time.

bionicfeetgrl3 karma

I’m an active OhmConnect participant. Here’s my issue. I live in an area of the Bay Area that gets pretty hot in the summer. I have the thermostat set pretty high as it is, and then OhmConnect shuts it off (which means for an hour or two the temp climbs in the house to 80+ degrees). Then I spend the next several hours AFTER the ohmhour trying to get the house back down to 76 degrees. Isn’t that counterproductive?

Isn’t it better to just keep the thermostat AT 76-78 vs letting the house get to 86? What’s the benefit of cutting the energy use if you’re just gonna double down in the next 2 hours. Is it just for bragging rights?

WombleCat2 karma

Not OP, but my understanding is OhmHours seek to balance the entire electricity grid's energy usage - not that of individuals. So when you shut off your AC, some manufacturing plant down the road may be turning on some (electrically) thirsty motors. And while you've got the AC screaming to bring temps down, some other equipment is sitting idle.

If everyone uses energy at different times, you need less capacity overall - which saves a lot of money, resources and carbon emissions.

ohmconnect2 karma

This is exactly it. The challenge is that the grid is constantly fluctuating and electricity one minute can be 100x more expensive than electricity the next minute. So even if you lose a little efficiency locally (say 20%), you gain efficiency at a system wide-level. Think of it as macro-optimization (system) vs micro-optimization (your home)

springersquared3 karma

Hey! Thanks for sharing! Three questions:

What advice do you have for someone who will be launching new ventures and/or innovating within a corporation?

Why do you think entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs experience challenges, frustrations, or failures? Do you have a story to share and how you overcame these issues?

When are you going to be available in Montreal?

ohmconnect3 karma

Inertia is the hardest challenge that entrepreneurs face. The energy sector, in particular, has a lot of inertia, primarily because it is tasked with keeping the lights on at all times and value near term reliability above long term environmental impacts. Inertia needs to be combated with the "intrigue frame".

People generally get excited to learn about something, and if you can explain it in an intriguing way, people will be willing to take the "brain damage" to learn about your new innovation. However, "framing" needs to be tailored to whomever you talk to.

Hopefully in the next five years, we will be in all of US and Canada. We require smart meters and an open, competitive marketplace to operate.

TheEverecsCaretaker2 karma

Absolutely amazing concept , someone with a vision can make a significant difference. 'm almost certain your company will blow up in the future. How long do you think will it take fpr electricity to be completely renewable and do you already know how to adapt your concept to that change?

ohmconnect3 karma

The electricity sector has a ton of inertia, so as idealistic as many of us are, I don't know if it is possible to get to completely renewable in the next 20 to 30 years. However, along the way to get there, it is paramount for us to have dozens of solutions like OhmConnect that add in a few percentage points of value that reduce the overall cost of renewables on the grid by providing services that solar and wind cannot.

malaclypz1 karma

Hey, interesting concept. I work in the solar industry, more on the leads and sales side. I'm curious how you guys make money? From utility rebates/incentives?

Also you said on the low end you might not save more than $50 /yr, what are the average savings for higher electric usage?

ohmconnect1 karma

We get paid directly from the energy markets. In California, that is the California ISO.

On the high end, we have a number of users in the thousands of dollars per year for reducing so the upside is high. Generally, I'd say there is an available $50-250 per kW you reduce, depending on location, frequency, and flexibility of your reductions. One of our users, John Hastie - https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/life/how-to-make-money-for-saving-power/ - has been earning ~$500/month using a storage system combined with OhmConnect

mjkevin2471 karma

How can I get involved from a consumer standpoint?? I wanna switch to sustainable energy but don't have the resources to do so (esp. cuz I'm in high school still)

ohmconnect2 karma

You can signup at https://www.ohmconnect.com/ and get your household on OhmConnect, to reduce during our #OhmHour events!

zebediah491 karma

Do you have any plans to automate some of this?

For example, a way of controlling an EV charging port, so that it would stop charging when conditions were appropriate (say, >50% charged, and energy balancing is required)?

That would make it much easier for people to participate, since it would basically just be a "set and forget" system, while still allowing you to drop really big loads off the grid (a dedicated 240V 30A Level 2 pylon pushes ~ 7kW from the wall into the car). It could also be adjusted much more rapidly than asking humans to adjust their behavior.

ohmconnect2 karma

We do - our automate or connect page (login.ohmconnect.com/connect) is available after you sign up and will allow you to connect a handful of different devices to our program (and automatically turn your electricity down before an #OhmHour and turn it back on after the #OhmHour is over)

rockzombie171 karma

Are you by any chance hiring?

ohmconnect1 karma

We are! https://www.ohmconnect.com/jobs

We especially need some more engineers and product managers to work out all the kinks!

L0LBasket1 karma

What's your favorite hobby?

ohmconnect3 karma

I have an 18 month year old daughter so I don't have time for my own hobbies at the moment (hopefully that will change as she grows up). Before my daughter, I was an avid cyclist and runner, enjoyed a good beer, and occasionally made it to the mountains for some climbing

wantondavis1 karma

Tips on getting into trading electricity futures?

ohmconnect1 karma

You'll need either a significant amount of collateral or join a company that is already in it. Couple of companies working on that is DC Energy, Alphataraxia, Jump Trading

ThreeCountLuuk1 karma

Do you see a system like OhmConnect’s working globally? It sounds extremely promising to me, and definetely interesting.

ohmconnect7 karma

Yes, inevitably, as we get more solar and wind on the grid, a platform like OhmConnect will exist across the world. At our core, we are using information to connect the energy world with our personal lives more intelligently. Whether it is OhmConnect or something similar, the energy sector will require us to be smarter about our individual energy usage while respecting individual mindshare.

pfcarrot0 karma

Does it work Here in DK, scandinavia?

ohmconnect1 karma

No, we are not connected to DK, scandinavia. Sorry! We are currently only in California and Toronto, Canada.

mrmagoo422-2 karma

Hi Matt, thanks for doing this!

I signed up and participate with OhmConnect and my question is - how do you make money to pay users?

I really like what you guys are doing, thank you.

ohmconnect4 karma

Great question! We pay you by aggregating your reductions with tens of thousands of other users and selling "negawatts" of energy onto the marketplace. The energy market works by purchasing the amount of energy needed for every hour of the day. When we have an #OhmHour, the market has already purchased OhmConnect energy for a specific hour. When you reduce and provide these "negawatts", we pass along those payments to you.

Shinji2460 karma

How do you prove ownership of these negawatts and who actually pays you for them?

ohmconnect4 karma

We can prove that we've had an effect on someone's energy savings by comparing a user's energy consumption during our energy savings event (called an #OhmHour) against their average. As an example, let's say you receive one of our #OhmHours for tomorrow (a Monday) from 5 - 6PM. We look at your energy use from 5-6PM over the previous 10 weekdays and then take an average of those numbers. If you use less than that average, then you get counted as having saved energy.

You can only participate in one program like OhmConnect at a time, so the effect would be credited to us.

Who pays for it? In the eyes of the grid, OhmConnect operates just like a regular power plant. Power plants (and OhmConnect) sell their energy on a wholesale market operated by the 'California ISO.' Instead of having utilities purchase energy generated from a gas-fired power plant, energy savings can be purchased from OhmConnect. In the eyes of the grid, it all results in the same thing -- the grid stays balanced.

The extra benefit with our program is that 1) carbon emissions are zero and 2) money gets put back into the pockets of residents.