$100M To Expand Virtual Power Plant Saturation In California

OhmConnect continues to scale their deployment of their demand response software. (Image: OhmConnect)
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Increase in peak energy demand doesn’t make it easy for the CAL-ISO to manage the routing of power. OhmConnect operates as the Advil for the grid when too much load is being requested by consumers grid wide. By compensating people for turning off their thermostat (HVAC tends to be the largest variable source in homes) OhmConnect has seen explosive growth in the California & now Texas regions working with utilities and the ISO directly they’ve found a growing niche focusing on being the gateway for utilities to control residential loads.

This $100M round led by Sidewalk Labs – the same firm that tried building a “smart city” in Toronto – is going to help OhmConnect subsidize and front the cost of deploying smart thermostats.

Why does this matter?

  • Working with Google in general tends to be an accomplishment, especially when they operate as the market leader in smart thermostats – OhmConnect pushes Google Products and is one of the few entities that is partnered with them
  • The investment from Sidewalk Labs to subsidize thermostat deployment will likely push even more Google Nest thermostats into California homes providing Google an opportunity to push everyone else out of this market
  • Demand response as a whole is dependent on homeowner engagement long term – OhmConnect has gamified the entire system through cash back rewards, while also proving there is a large community of people willing to sacrifice some comfort on the premise of helping the grid/community
  • Demand response is offered by many of the giants including the relatively new Uplight – which recently collaborated with Google and Consumers Energy to deploy thermostats for the purpose of demand response
  • Increased private and likely public capital following this solution to alleviate the stress the grid is facing on a daily basis (California Power Safety Shutoffs) will likely improve the comfort for the consumer and value of companies working on Virtual Power Plants

What’s next?

  • In California we’ve gotten out of the “early adopter” phase for demand response programs – OhmConnect likely has this market in California in lockdown as they are now used as part of the ISO and included in resource planning at the ISO level…
  • Demand response programs will likely be deployed US wide in order to protect the ageing grid going forward.
  • Resource management will likely be required in order to support the influx of Electrification efforts over the next 10 years
  • Electric Vehicle manufacturers will likely need to participate in demand response programs natively

Thoughts

Demand response is the first step of many to electrify the entire grid while also focusing on maintaining the grid during this transitional phase the grid is going through. OhmConnect, being the first into this market, will likely see strong growth in the US as others begin to approach load management as a broader market in different ways.

About The Author

Swarnav S Pujari

Swarnav S Pujari

CEO @ TouchLight | Founder of The Impact

Swarnav is the CEO of TouchLight, a utility backed energy company that develops software for nanogrids that accelerates solar payback periods by 1 – 3 years. He currently leads partnerships and product efforts within the company.

Concurrently, Swarnav founded The Impact to help provide open source tools, research and analysis to people passionate about tackling climate change. He also volunteers time with ClimateLink hosting regional meetups and was appointed the Chairman for the Town of Yorktown’s CSC Task Force, where he helps with legislation and sustainability efforts within the town.

Swarnav has a background in building physical products and has been working in the energy space for about 8 years. He also holds 2 patents and is active in the tech, energy and real estate industries.

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