Last week, we announced that new and more valuable #OhmHours are coming your way. These start today on June 23rd. This week, we’d like to explain why #OhmHours are changing.

First, let’s cover the basics.

What is an #OhmHour?

One or two times per week, people use more electricity than is expected. This causes a shortage because there simply aren’t enough power plants running at that time to support all the ACs, TVs, EVs, and PMs (pinball machines) that are using electricity. When this happened in the past, the grid would pay the dirtiest and most expensive power plants to turn on temporarily.

That’s where #OhmHour comes in. Instead of turning on additional power plants, the grid now pays OhmConnect to have our community members save energy. The grid stays balanced, our users make money, and less pollution is emitted. It’s a win-win-win.

It’s important to make a distinction between “the grid” and your utility. The organization which manages the grid is called the California Independent System Operator. (Yes, that’s a mouthful, so most people in the energy biz call it the “CAISO” for short.)

You can think of this organization as the “air traffic controllers” for electricity. Instead of directing airplanes, they instruct which power plants need to turn on, which need to turn off, and how much money those power plants will be paid.

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The CAISO control room in Folsom, CA

Your utility now uses #OhmHour

Your utility is responsible for taking reasonable steps to prevent the CAISO from turning on those dirty and expensive power plants.

Over the past 12 months, OhmConnect has worked with California’s three largest utilities (Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric) and state energy authorities (California Public Utilities Commission and the CAISO) to introduce #OhmHour as a tool for utilities to better manage their customers’ electricity usage.

This is why the details around #OhmHour have changed. The CAISO often knows a day before your utility will need help managing the balance of power, which means that we’ll be able to send you #OhmHour notifications more often in advance. Occasionally, your utility may need #OhmHours that last longer than just 1 hour.

Why are new #OhmHours more valuable? With so much solar and wind being deployed across California, balancing the grid has become an increasingly difficult challenge to solve. The upside is that your utility is now willing to pay more for tools that pave a sustainable pathway for more renewables. This is why we expect you to earn more points for saving energy during the new #OhmHours.

Ready, set, go!

To recap, new #OhmHours start today, June 23rd. Here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect to be different:

  • Each #OhmHour will be worth more, but you will receive negative points if you go over your ‘expected use.’
  • You will most likely receive an advance notification the day before and just prior to the event.
  • You may receive #OhmHours ranging from 1 – 4 hours. We don’t anticipate many 4 hour events, but they may occur.

Looking Ahead

Stay tuned in the coming weeks to see how our community fares with the new #OhmHours. We will also share other adjustments we have made based on early community feedback.