In June, the California Public Utility Commission approved $56.28 million in spending for energy solutions to help alleviate grid strain in Southern California Edison territory, plus an additional $8.7 million to mitigate the effects of energy shortfalls caused by the closure of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in Southern California.
In response, OhmConnect and Schneider Electric have announced a partnership to build an intelligent network of Schneider Electric's Wiser Air smart, Wi-Fi connected thermostats in the region. The Wiser Air thermostats respond dynamically to changing grid conditions and OhmConnect pays Southern California residents to save energy once per week.
California's electricity grid and utilities will view the collective real-time energy savings of OhmConnect users as if it were energy generated from local power plants. OhmConnect receives payments for this 'virtual power' and distributes to its user base.
"OhmConnect and Schneider Electric's partnership is the first step in intersecting the smart home and energy markets. By connecting smart thermostats and plugs, our users directly offset the need to build new power plants and curb our reliance on the Aliso Canyon storage facility," said Matt Duesterberg, CEO of OhmConnect.
The crisis began in October of 2015, when a natural gas well in the Aliso Canyon storage facility ruptured, causing one of the worst environmental disasters in our nation's history. The Environmental Defense Fund estimates that the leaked methane resulted in the equivalent greenhouse gas emissions of 917,000,000 gallons of gasoline being burned.
While the leak was fixed in February of 2016, the storage facility remains closed and will not supply natural gas to power plants in Southern California this year. This electricity shortfall has put regions in Southern California at risk for the remainder of the year.