CleanStart Perspectives with XeroHome

CleanStart Perspectives with XeroHome

Join us as we chat with Mudit Saxena, co-founder & CEO of XeroHome, a startup that makes it easy for homeowners to decarbonize their homes.

Our guest, Mudit Saxena, is the co-founder and CEO of XeroHome, a startup that helps homeowners and utilities transition to a low carbon future by prioritizing cost-effective, clean energy upgrades. XeroHome™ is a web platform that uses predictive modeling and data science to deliver customized home energy insights at scale.

CleanStart Perspectives are short online conversations to connect the greater Sacramento clean tech entrepreneurship community and share insights, experiences, and outlooks. Join us as we welcome our featured guests to share their perspective on what entrepreneurs and innovators can do to thrive and grow.

Register and we’ll send you the Zoom login information prior to the meeting time.

CleanStart Perspectives are recorded through Zoom.

CleanStart Perspectives: New Vision Aviation

CleanStart Perspectives: New Vision Aviation

New Vision Aviation promotes aviation education with a focus on communities of color in the San Joaquin Valley using all-electric aircraft.

Join us as we talk with Joseph Oldham, the founder of New Vision Aviation . New Vision Aviation, a 501c3 charitable non-profit corporation, was formed in 2018 to promote aviation education with a specific focus on communities of color within the San Joaquin Valley. NVA’s mission is to open the doors for aviation careers to young people that previously would not have considered this path due to cost barriers. NVA manages the four Pipistrel Alpha Electro all-electric trainers owned by the City of Reedley and City of Mendota as part of the Sustainable Aviation Project funded by Fresno County Transportation Authority.

CleanStart Perspectives are short online conversations to connect the greater Sacramento clean tech entrepreneurship community and share insights, experiences, and outlooks. Join us as we welcome our featured guests to share their perspective on what entrepreneurs and innovators can do to thrive and grow.

Register and we’ll send you the Zoom login information prior to the meeting time.

CleanStart Perspectives are recorded through Zoom.

Hot New Business Opportunities in DER Management?

Hot New Business Opportunities in DER Management?

At our MeetUp on January 28, three speakers talked about their experiences in installing and integrating distributed energy resources (DERs) in the grid and offered some fresh insights.  We heard from Lowell Watros and John Franzino of GridSME (“Grid Subject Matter Experts”) and Tim McDuffie of Smarter Grid Solutions.  Here are some of the highlights of that very interesting discussion:

  • The need for much faster-response assets on the grid has been growing enormously and it has been hard for DERs to keep up.
  • By the nature of the DERs and the number of entities involved in managing them, the DERs need to be connected to the internet.  Connections over dedicated communication lines is just not practical.
  • As a result, there is a critical need for excellent cybersecurity.
  • For DER assets deep in the distribution system and often in rural areas, communication may be dependent on RF systems, which are slow and noisy.  This limits what those resources can do and be compensated for. 
  • DERs are not being fully compensated for all the value they bring to a system such as capacity value in addition to energy value, and the value of avoiding distribution system upgrades.  However, there is still concern over the reliability of DERs providing those values and with a quick enough response. 
  • There is a big gap in the systems and protocols for effective DER management that is holding back the next wave of DER investment and installations.  Europe is probably ahead of the US in creating such systems.
  • The US systems are a hodge-podge of rules for DERs and there is not enough motivation to create consistent rules and procedures with full compensation for the values provided
  • There may be an emerging role for more flywheel systems as very fast-response assets within DER systems.  This is different than using flywheels for energy storage in competition with batteries.  Flywheels can inject of absorb power very quickly, smoothing-out fluctuations from DERs in very short intervals.
  • There is a new horizon in integrating more behind-the-meter DER assets into the distribution grid, but it will require excellent communication systems and fast response equipment. Tim McDuffie specifically talked about a project to enhance the reliability of service to the Hoopa Valley Tribe east of Eureka which sits at the end of a long, single distribution feeder.

We could go on and on with all of the insights packed into this 90-minute discussion, but you can learn all about it by checking out the video.  One participant who had been with a number of utilities and dealing with DERs said he found the panelists much more knowledgeable and thought-provoking than he had seen with other online discussions.  That’s high praise and a good indication of why you should play the recording.  This is such a hot topic, we have had three prior sessions on it and likely will have many more.

Many thanks to our panelists and to all those who joined in. 

Thomas Hall

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gary Simon is the Chair of CleanStart's Board. A seasoned energy executive and entrepreneur with 45 years of experience in business, government, and non-profits.

CleanStart Sponsors

Weintraub | TobinBlueTech Valley, Revrnt, River City Bank

Moss AdamsPowerSoft.biz, Greenberg Traurig, California Mobility Center

New Horizons in the Relationship Between Ratepayers and the Utility

New Horizons in the Relationship Between Ratepayers and the Utility

If you were ever curious about the new ways utilities may be relating to their customers now and in the future, a great way to get a quick introduction is to watch the video of this outstanding discussion on the topic we did on December 3.  It was probably the most informative MeetUp we have had, and one of the most popular with 46 people attending.  If you missed it, you can view the recording on our YouTube Channel and below.

We had three outstanding speakers.  Dr. Karen Herter started things off by reviewing her experiments on getting amazing demand reductions using clever communications technology and instantaneous information on the changing prices of electricity.  She had done one experiment piggybacking a signal on  the FM broadcast of local Capital Radio.  Another used a small in-home receiver.  But that was a minor part of what she found out.  She had customers use a number of interactive thermostats and pre-cooling settings to see what those customers considered the best combination of features and ease of use.  With the best system there were astonishing cost savings and demand reduction, far more than Time of Day rates had achieved.  She is on loan to the CEC to help them devise the best strategies for applying her work.  The key she indicated was getting a much better database of rates and communication protocols with standardization so that more vendors of energy-saving equipment can rely on that information to control their devices.

Tanya Barham of the Community Energy Lab in Oregon talked about her experience, borne out of various companies she had worked for previously, in finding simple systems to apply AI control to reduce energy use and costs in schools, churches and municipal buildings.  She sees this expanding to become part of the strategy for decarbonizing buildings.  She agreed that the kind of database work Dr. Herter was doing was absolutely essential to provide wider applications of user-based demand reductions.  In her work, she was seeing a two-month payback on investments made in simple software systems and sensors to manage building energy use.  

Ryan Braas of SMUD introduced us to the SMUD Energy Store, an initiative that is showing great results in getting energy-saving devices in the hands of users through an online store.  SMUD is continuing to expand its offerings on the Store site, but one of the most popular features, Ryan said, was the “Instant Rebate”.  While utilities across the country offer rebates to customers purchasing various energy-saving devices, often a great deal of paperwork and wait time is needed to actually get the money—fill out a form, mail it in with a copy of the receipt for the device and a copy of a recent bill to verify one is a customer of the utility, wait for the request to be entered into the system at the utility and 30-60 day later a check arrives in the mail.  With the Energy Store, the rebate is taken immediately and deducted from the price of the device.  The user is already verified as a customer and the proof of purchase is inherent as a part of the process.  So bingo no wait, no extra paperwork.  This is a great example of a utility establishing an entirely new relationship with its customers, one the customers end up valuing highly.  If you are SMUD customer and haven’t visited the Energy Store you should.  Go the the Smud.org site and find it.

The three presentations were followed by a lively Q&A, and more importantly, the audience used the Chat Room function to ask questions and get answers there as well.  This is really becoming a very useful way to inform our cleantech community.  If you haven’t attended one of these monthly sessions, you really should.  We clearly are getting people far from our home territory participating, and that is making it all the better.

Thomas Hall

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gary Simon is the Chair of CleanStart's Board. A seasoned energy executive and entrepreneur with 45 years of experience in business, government, and non-profits.

CleanStart Sponsors

Weintraub | TobinBlueTech Valley, Revrnt, River City Bank

Moss AdamsPowerSoft.biz, Greenberg Traurig, California Mobility Center

Hot and Overcast: Why We Need Innovation.

Hot and Overcast: Why We Need Innovation.

In the past week, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) has issued a number of Flex Alerts. Flex Alerts are voluntary calls for consumers to conserve energy. On social media SMUD shared this call. It might seem like renewable energy has made this a new normal, but innovations will lead us out. Sacramento can be part of this innovation.

Why do we have Flex Alerts? The CAISO gives us a clear answer: “A Flex Alert is typically issued in the summer when extremely hot weather pushes up energy demand as it reaches available capacity. This usually happens in the evening hours when solar generation is going offline and consumers are returning home and switching on air conditioners, lights, and appliances.” In short there may not be enough power for the grid. 

This is due to adoption of renewable energy sources which have reduced emissions and improved our quality of life but also don’t produce power 24-7. Utilities and the CAISO model the energy to avoid shortages, you can learn more in CleanStart Associates Smith’s Blog

This should not be the NEW NORMAL. Yes, we will have more flex alerts, especially on hot overcast days BUT continued innovation will overcome this. With new energy storage technology and demand response systems. 

Increased storage will help match energy supply with demand, storing the excess produced by systems like solar and wind to be used later. Demand response is a solution like the Flex Alert. It is changing the energy demanded by a utility consumer behind the meter, to better match the power supply. Future demand response systems hope to do things like temporarily stop Electric Vehicles from charging (even having Electric vehicles discharge as part of storage) or turn off appliances that aren’t needed. Demand Response might only reduce a household’s demand by 100 watts, but over a territory like SMUD’s it adds up. There are over 180,000 households, multiplying 100 watts into 18 Megawatts. (Added Benefit 18 Mwh is ~8,800 lbs of carbon dioxide emissions in California)

New technologies being developed right here in Sacramento can help to overcome this and provide grid resiliency. From Storage like Off The Wall Energy, DAE, Empower Energy, SPIN, and RePurpose to companies working on demand response like Grid Rabbit. CleanStart is committed to building the region into a cleantech hub, help support the innovation that will reduce flex alerts and build the local economy, support CleanStart.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thomas is the Executive Director of CleanStart. Thomas has a strong background in supporting small businesses, leadership, financial management and is proficient in working with nonprofits. He has a BS in Finance and a BA in Economics from California State University, Chico. Thomas has a passion for sustainability and a commitment to supporting non-profits in the region.

CleanStart Sponsors

Weintraub | Tobin, Moss Adams GreenbergTraurig

BlueTech Valley, PowerSoft.biz, Revrnt, Synbyo, Califronia Mobility Center


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