The average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential customer in 2016 was 10,766 kilowatt-hours (kWh), an average of 897 kWh per month. This gigantic consumption of energy leads to the construction of more energy grids which, in turn, lead to increased carbon emissions. OhmConnect lends a helping hand by encouraging control of this consumption.
OhmConnect is a software-based power plant located in San Francisco, California. It pays households to reduce their energy use when the electric grid is stressed and when power has to be supplied from expensive and pollution-heavy sources.
The company’s state-of-the-art software product coordinates energy sharing events with residential utility customers, allowing users to respond to #OhmHours. The software achieves this by making behavioral changes like turning off lights and other automated actions through smart devices connected to the OhmConnect platform.
Crafting Smart Energy Usage
OhmConnect envisions a world where customers’ homes are connected directly to the electricity grid, and this inspires its mission statement: automagically creating the smart energy future.
Using OhmConnect, smart home devices communicate with each other and with the grid to save energy, making smart decisions to unlock the full value of customers’ energy usage. Energy sharing is a way for grid operators to balance supply and demand by allowing customers to shift their energy usage in response to real-time peak events.
When demand exceeds the forecasted supply of energy, customers are prompted to respond in real-time through smart home networks to save energy. One way is by waiting to perform energy-intensive activities until after that peak event.
The Leader’s Part in Progress
Matt Duesterberg is the CEO and Co-founder of OhmConnect. Matt has focused his efforts on sharing the myriad benefits of OhmConnect with the energy world, in building its data infrastructure, and growing the platform’s user base.
He started his career in the energy industry trading electricity flow futures for a small quantitative trading firm, DC Energy. With his experience, Matt realized that there was a fundamental need within the energy industry to bring expertise from outside the energy sector to solve problems common in other industries, including in consumer engagement, marketing, and software services.
When he started OhmConnect in 2014, no pathway existed to pay users for reducing electricity usage, but that concept was incredibly valuable to the grid. Matt and the OhmConnect team helped to lay the groundwork through which they pay customers in San Francisco, California and Ontario, Canada.
Confronting the Challenges
One of OhmConnect’s biggest challenges is to ensure that there is a regulatory environment that can reflect what the grid needs. To overcome this hurdle, the organization relies on three primary regulations to facilitate its business model: access to data from smart meters (with customer consent), payment of megawatts on the energy grid, and a competitive approach to electricity products.
OhmConnect has and will continue to face opposition from existing policies that unintentionally prevent it from participating in the market for a variety of reasons. The organization has faced this previously in 2016 and has utilized its user base as a political advantage that helped in relieving that risk.
OhmConnect continues to grow its policy and regulatory team that helps shape these policies to enable a smarter energy future. Its journey has been enlightening as forerunners have created and modified policies that enable OhmConnect to exist.
Ensuring Optimal Efficiency
OhmConnect focuses on customer satisfaction and building a product that encourages ongoing participation, high referral rates, and the highest Net Promoter Score (NPS). The product has evolved into one that serves users in a personalized manner; it identifies which areas of the experience will resonate with an individual and draws their attention to those feature sets.
OhmConnect executes this primarily by analyzing a user’s baseline energy consumption and categorizing users by behavioral profiles, which is a key indicator of the programs they might enjoy most. This also allows users to respond and participate in #OhmHours in the most efficient manner by setting their desired hours, frequency, and the rewards that they receive.
Contributions to a Cause
As an energy-sharing service, OhmConnect encourages users to consciously consider how they consume energy, both as individuals and within the larger community.
When more energy is needed than was initially planned for, OhmConnect users are called in the place of peaker plants to meet this unexpected demand. Instead of keeping lights switched on or air conditioning units running, users share their energy with those in the community who are using more than expected.
Users are then paid for reducing the amount of energy they are pulling from the grid. OhmConnect therefore acts as a residential energy-sharing program, leveraging demand response, and has proven that residential homes will respond both frequently and consistently when called, if provided with the right incentive.
OhmConnect allows users to respond to #OhmHours by making behavioral changes like switching off devices, as well as taking automated actions by connecting their smart devices to the OhmConnect platform.
The company’s mission statement, ‘Automagically creating the smart energy future’, encapsulates its goals for a smart, connected world, bridging the gap between the smart home and the smart grid. Using OhmConnect, devices automatically communicate with each other and with the grid to save energy, and make smart decisions to unlock the value of citizens’ energy usage.
Expansion of Empowerment
Over the past few years, OhmConnect has been focusing intently on expanding its footprint within California. In the next few years, the company envisions enormous opportunities in new energy markets, including Toronto, Texas, New York, the eastern seaboard, and the Midwest.
Each region has its own unique energy market and the company is keen to empower every energy customer to get paid for making smarter energy decisions.