OhmConnect Launching Retail Electric Provider In Texas, Names Market Vet Don Whaley As President For Texas Region
April 29, 2021 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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OhmConnect, which to date has offered a customer-response program for residential energy use without acting as a retail load serving entity, confirmed to EnergyChoiceMatters.com that it will be launching a retail electric provider in Texas, and has named Texas market veteran Don Whaley as President of the Texas branch of OhmConnect
Whaley joins OhmConnect with 35 years experience in deregulated energy markets across North America, and, among other positions, previously founded Direct Energy's Texas business unit and served as a Vice President at TXU. Through his consulting practice, Whaley has helped launch numerous retail electricity providers
Whaley told EnergyChoiceMatters.com that OhmConnect's initial offering in Texas will be a "straightforward" fixed price product, with a term of 6 or 12 months.
OhmConnect will offer its Texas customers, via rewards and gamification, an opportunity to receive value for load response during events called by OhmConnect, similar to its practice in California.
OhmConnect's Texas products will initially be postpay, but the company will work to develop a prepay product as well
OhmConnect, which is authorized to use the trade name PowerPass in Texas, will not expose Texas customers to wholesale prices
In California, OhmConnect is dispatching a 150 MW virtual power plant with its customer load reductions achieved both through behavioral demand response as well as device controls, including an OhmConnect smart plug as well as smart thermostats. About 50% of its demand response in California is behavioral, in response to a day-ahead notice sent from OhmConnect
OhmConnect customers earn points for load reductions, versus a baseline, with such points able to be redeemed for cash, gift cards, and similar rewards. The approach is gamified, and includes additional bonuses and opportunities to win sweepstakes and other prizes such as vacations or free energy for a year.
"In the wake of events here in February, it is clear that the grid needs to
change and our technology empowers users to participate in that change while benefiting
themselves, the grid and the environment," Whaley said
"It's an ideal time to bring a proven and proactive technology to Texas. Not to be the silver bullet, but it's a first step, and it's a very positive first step, because when you have an increasing portion of your generation that's either on or off, you can't ramp it up and you can't ramp it down with all of the vagaries of load -- you have to have load you can follow that can swing up and down to overcome the deficiencies of your generation," Whaley told EnergyChoiceMatters.com
"I've said a number of times that, we say we have a smart grid, but it's just really not that intelligent. So, part of what we're going to do is help raise the IQ of the grid and extend the useful life of the assets on the ground, both the infrastructure, the wires, but also generation. We can balance out and stabilize the grid going forward by soliciting an increasing participation on the load side of the equation," Whaley said
Following the February weather event in ERCOT, Whaley said, "There is also a much broader awareness, not a very deep awareness, but a broader awareness and understanding that something needs to change," and Whaley thinks OhmConnect is able to position the message that it's the advent of that change.
Citing not just the February event but also ERCOT's recent alert about potentially entering EEA1 during a relatively low load shoulder period, Whaley said, "It's becoming apparent that the grid we have was built under an operational construct that is no longer valid. We had a hub-and-spoke environment where you had large scale generation and high voltage transmission that radiated out to the load and it followed the load up and down through various weather events. But now if you look at the fact that we're approaching 50% renewable, which is non-responsive, and 50% thermal, which is, it's clear that the performance of the grid is going to have to shift, and that some of the burden from matching generation to load is going to have to shift, necessarily to the load side."
"OhmConnect’s mission is to reimagine the way we use energy in order to modernize our
energy infrastructure and preserve the health of our planet," said Cisco DeVries, CEO of