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  • OhmConnect demand-shaving experiences

    Since many of the solar enthusiasts here also into energy conservation as an effective pre-cursor before adopting solar, has anyone here been using OhmConnect for further savings and energy tracking? I just discovered it about a month ago, and there are some pertinent observations wrt solar users, so I thought I'd share my experience so far. Note right now this only applies to electricity consumers (solar or non-solar) in California in PG&E, SCE, or SDGE territories.

    OhmConnect is a startup that's made arrangements with the utilities for consumer demand-shaving during certain periods. It's analogous to some of the peak programs from the utilities themselves, SmartDays et al, except quite a number of those exclude solar net-metering customers, while OhmConnect is available to solar customers. But the big difference is rather than targeting large blocks of hours or days, OhmConnect focuses on these very short periods, about an hour a week, where the wholesale spot price of electricity can jump by 100X or so when the uiltities need to turn on small peaker plants that are very costly to activate and run. By demand-shaving, it achieves the same net effect as providing more incremental generation to the grid, and those savings are passed to OhmConnect users. Each of these short periods is called an OhmHour, and you're notified in advance- sometimes minutes, sometimes a day, so that you can curtail demand, and they can connect with some smarthome automation to automate that for you.

    I've done about three of these OhmHours over the past few weeks, and here's some notes I found interesting and relevant to solar users. Would love to hear from others here who have already been using this for a while as well.

    1. It can work with solar because they can work with negative net consumption (i.e. net generation). They merely take your average net consumption as measured by your utility, whether positive or negative, over the previous ten days as a baseline, so if your conserve during an OhmHour, you'll go even more negative, and still record a net reduction in usage that can be rewarded. However, as we all love to pore over our daily generation, we know that our generation fluctatues on a daily basis due to temperature, clouds, whatever. So there is the chance that you conserve during an OhmHour, but your solar panels don't produce and you end up with MORE consumption than your baseline despite your best efforts. On average though, it seems to even out so far. But if you anticipate an unusually cloudy day during an OhmHour, you can always opt out of one.

    2. Despite OhmConnect being able to work with negative consumption (net generation) from your utility, there do seem to be some forum reports of negative values being treated as positive (i.e. as net consumption) and not being rewarded properly. So there could be some bugs. Since most OhmHours are in the late afternoon and I have afternoon panel shading, my baseline and actual consumption have always been positive so far, so I've not had firsthand experience with this issue.

    3. Since many of the solar users here take aggressive conservation steps to reduce peak afternoon usage, like me you may not have much load to conserve even further. My afternoon load is typically about 0.5 kw, so I can shave about 0.1-0.2 kwh in an OhmHour at best. But I'm in it more for the fun of conservation than the actual rewards. Now if you live in a hot climate with AC, you will probably see a big effect up to 1-5 kwh by shutting down your AC, and can gain some sizeable rewards.

    4. Now here's the most interesting thing is the actual reward rates. These are not necessarily the same as the Cal ISO spot market rate (those purported 100X jumps, but rather what OhmConnect chooses to pass through to consumers, but I assume there's some correlation. And so first, it does seems to vary quite a bit between days, and even between utility regions, according to user discussions, and I suspect some is tied to variability in spot rates.

    5. But second, the actual rewards rates I've seen so far are in the $2.50 to $6 per kwh. Now I'm only saving about 0.1-0.3 kwh each time, so my rewards can be less than a dollar, but if you're a big conserver, you could see $10 or more from just one. I'm not sure if the formulas are linear though. And again, others have experienced reward rates much less than $1/kwh, esp reports out of SoCal; some have gotten much higher than I've seen. Regardless though, these reward rates are far higher than even the peak kwh rates the utilities are charging us for a peak kwh, so here's a way to get back and "stick it to the man"; since the utilities are allegedly paying OhmConnect to reward you.

    6. Since this doesn't tie into your utility bill at all, the reward is on top of whatever savings from conserving on your utility bill ($0.25-$0.40 or whatever your peak TOU rate is). Now with utilities now implementing min connection charges and such, if you're already under the minimums, you won't save on your utility bill at true-up. But you'll get rewards from OhmConnect. I view it indirectly as my clawback of my $120 PG&E minimum.

    7. Now on to the smarthome automation. They've got some integration with thermostats like Ecobee and smartplugs to turn on and off during the OhmHour, so you don't have to be home to manually turn things on/off. Mostly they integrate by you giving your login and password to those smart apps though, not through some backend API or permission, so some feel that giving your password to you thermostat to this startup is dangerous. But it's all opt-in, you don't have to do it.

    8. They support two brands of smartplugs so far, and the TP-Link smartplug I've got appears to work flawlessly with OhmConnect. The Wiser plugs have some reports of problems, and some smarthome integrations they have rely on the start/stop SMS notifications they send at the beginning and end of the hour, and so some have reported things not turning off, or on, which could lead to disastrous results. I only have a non-critical Tivo and home entertainment center plugged into the TP-Link, so nothing bad could happen like a fridge full of spoiled food. Plus the TP-Links seem to have a more reliable integration approach. Best thing is though I'm only saving about 0.1 kwh with this smartplug, they also reward $0.50 per OhmHour for smarthome integration, so I may make $25 over the year to cover the cost of the smartplug itself.

    9. Thermostat integration is crude; only turns cooling on and off, rather than changing to a higher setpoint. But it does seem to work reliably with my Ecobee, though I don't generally use AC in the afternoons anyway.

    I formed a team called SolarPanelTalk within OhmConnect, as it'd be fun to track with other folks here actual kwh and dollar savings. There's also a signup bonus of $20 for new users; also a referral bonus as well, but I'm not posting because of that, so if you want my referral URL you can PM me, but otherwise just go to ohmconnect.com and sign up. Also on 8/9 they just doubled the bonuses to $40 for SCE territory in particular, something about the Aliso Canyon gas field shutdown impacting peaker plants and more incentives from SCE for demand-shaving.

    (I think if you go through my referral you get added to the SolarPanelTalk team directly, but you can also search by team name and add yourself, or change teams anytime.)
    Last edited by wwu123; 08-11-2016, 01:39 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by wwu123 View Post
    Since many of the solar enthusiasts here also into energy conservation as an effective pre-cursor before adopting solar, has anyone here been using OhmConnect for further savings and energy tracking? I just discovered it about a month ago, and there are some pertinent observations wrt solar users, so I thought I'd share my experience so far. Note right now this only applies to electricity consumers (solar or non-solar) in California in PG&E, SCE, or SDGE territories.
    We tried to focus on energy conservation before we went to solar power.

    However, then we later learned that much of that focus was wasted.

    Say for example that at around 8am each morning our system is producing a lot of power and charging our battery bank. If we stay dormant [like maybe we went on a trip that day], then by 11am our battery bank is full 100% SOC.From 11am to 4pm all the power our system makes is wasted.

    In reality my wife starts a coffee maker first thing. But regardless of what we do the battery bank will reach 100% SOC before 1pm. We can operate every appliance and every power tool we own and still our battery bank will reach 100% SOC. My wife even bought a new dishwasher, so now every morning we run a load in it.

    Living on solar power is a paradigm shift in lifestyle. During daylight we have surplus power to waste, during the night or cloudy days all of these activities must hibernate.




    4400w, Midnite Classic 150 charge-controller.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by organic farmer View Post

      We tried to focus on energy conservation before we went to solar power.

      However, then we later learned that much of that focus was wasted.

      Say for example that at around 8am each morning our system is producing a lot of power and charging our battery bank. If we stay dormant [like maybe we went on a trip that day], then by 11am our battery bank is full 100% SOC.From 11am to 4pm all the power our system makes is wasted.

      In reality my wife starts a coffee maker first thing. But regardless of what we do the battery bank will reach 100% SOC before 1pm. We can operate every appliance and every power tool we own and still our battery bank will reach 100% SOC. My wife even bought a new dishwasher, so now every morning we run a load in it.

      Living on solar power is a paradigm shift in lifestyle. During daylight we have surplus power to waste, during the night or cloudy days all of these activities must hibernate.



      I'd save the electricity for tasks that other forms of energy cannot provide. Making water hot with electricity is like cutting butter with a chain saw, but it's difficult to run a computer with a wood fire or propane. FWIW, I've found the paradigm shift to a saner lifestyle was a bit easier when I matched the task to the fuel's capabilities. Just sayin'.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post

        I'd save the electricity for tasks that other forms of energy cannot provide. Making water hot with electricity is like cutting butter with a chain saw, but it's difficult to run a computer with a wood fire or propane. FWIW, I've found the paradigm shift to a saner lifestyle was a bit easier when I matched the task to the fuel's capabilities. Just sayin'.
        I agree.

        One of our neighbors uses some of his surplus electricity to make heat, but it seems goofy to me.






        4400w, Midnite Classic 150 charge-controller.

        Comment


        • #5
          I posted about OhmConnect here last year, just realized it was almost exactly a year ago, with no apparent interest from this community. But thought I'd share a few interesting updates as of late. OhmConnect is a demand-response service that can reward electricity conservation during certain hours called by the utility companies. Unlike some of the demand-response programs run by the utilities themselves that sometimes lock out solar customers (I'm looking at you, PG&E SmartRate), OhmConnect is open to solar customers.

          Won't re-cap my long-winded initial post, but some updates:
          -still primarily California - but I think in the last year they've added SDGE in addiiton to PG&E and SCE. They are talking to a few utilities in other parts of the country.
          -it's not ideal for those already conserving, which includes many of the solar users here, because there's not much to cut back from your typical usage when you're already conserving. It good for normally wasteful users, and I'd also say those that have heavy A/C usages. The latter group can cut 4 to 5 kwH in a single OhmHour, and make up the the max of $20 frequently.
          -but on the positive front for conserving users, they've recently introduced bonus multipliers that are now based on percentage conservation rather than absolute kwH. These can increase the payout by 2X or more, so even cutting say 0.5 KwH on a typical usage of 1kwH can pay out $1-2 each time. So many SolarPanelTalkers could fall into this category.

          I netted about $20 in gains over the past year, but in a recent spate of 10 OhmHours I made $10 additional in the past month. And my multipliers are higher now than a month ago for the next few. It's literally free money, and I have it automated with smart plugs and thermostats I owned anyway.

          As opposed to solar users, I would say if you're in one of the inland California counties and use a lot of A/C, you should look into it if you can afford to turn off the A/C or get out of the house for random hours. There's an open discussion forum on the OhmConnect site and you can see screenshots from folks htting $20 (2000 points) payouts multiple hours in a row.

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          • #6
            I have friends here in SDG&E territory that have mentioned this recently, but I hadn't investigated much yet. Nice to see the positive experiences of someone credible I'll look for your team (but probably give the referral bonus to my friends, hope you understand).
            CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

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            • #7
              Originally posted by sensij View Post
              I have friends here in SDG&E territory that have mentioned this recently, but I hadn't investigated much yet. Nice to see the positive experiences of someone credible I'll look for your team (but probably give the referral bonus to my friends, hope you understand).
              No worries, I'm not in it for the referrals, that's why I haven't openly shared my referral link.

              Comment


              • #8
                I just pocketed a quick $6! Got an Ohm hour the day after I got PTO on my system, but the forecasted usage was based on my pre-solar consumption. Coupled with a nice sunny day, it worked out in my favor this time.
                CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by sensij View Post
                  I just pocketed a quick $6! Got an Ohm hour the day after I got PTO on my system, but the forecasted usage was based on my pre-solar consumption. Coupled with a nice sunny day, it worked out in my favor this time.
                  That's great - you pretty much beat my best ever (about $4) on the first shot! But again I've got a pretty low baseline, with or without solar - it averages out to about $1.50-2/kwh saved though, which is pretty generous, and I've got nearly a 2X multipler additional going due to a streak of 14 OhmHours with net reduction. You should try to avoid opting out of any events so you can get that consecutive streak bonus going.

                  There was a massive 3 hour event last night, due to CAISO's prediction of near-record demand - waiting to get my results on that one.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by wwu123 View Post

                    That's great - you pretty much beat my best ever (about $4) on the first shot! But again I've got a pretty low baseline, with or without solar - it averages out to about $1.50-2/kwh saved though, which is pretty generous, and I've got nearly a 2X multipler additional going due to a streak of 14 OhmHours with net reduction. You should try to avoid opting out of any events so you can get that consecutive streak bonus going.

                    There was a massive 3 hour event last night, due to CAISO's prediction of near-record demand - waiting to get my results on that one.
                    Yeah, hard to see how the stars could ever align that way again to duplicate such a big score... 100 points / kWh, 10% bonus, and mid-afternoon right after I've turned on solar. I got another small one last night, again based on pre-PTO consumption, but late enough (6-7 pm) that the system only chips in 1 kWh, but that will get my streak up to 4, with a 20% bonus. Since it uses the past 10 weekdays for the baseline during the week (or last four weekend days for a weekend), I shouldn't have to worry about opting out for another week or so. My actual consumption is really low, I can see how weather-related PV system performance could easily dominate any intentional reduction. I should probably get in the habit of charging my car in the middle of the afternoon on weekends, so that I've got a higher baseline there in case an Ohm hour hits. At some point, preserving the participation streak (and the multiplier) might make it worth it to ride through a bad solar hour, even if it means taking a negative point hit.
                    Last edited by sensij; 06-27-2017, 04:19 PM.
                    CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by sensij View Post

                      Yeah, hard to see how the stars could ever align that way again to duplicate such a big score... 100 points / kWh, 10% bonus, and mid-afternoon right after I've turned on solar. I got another small one last night, again based on pre-PTO consumption, but late enough (6-7 pm) that the system only chips in 1 kWh, but that will get my streak up to 4, with a 20% bonus. Since it uses the past 10 weekdays for the baseline during the week (or last four weekend days for a weekend), I shouldn't have to worry about opting out for another week or so. My actual consumption is really low, I can see how weather-related PV system performance could easily dominate any intentional reduction. I should probably get in the habit of charging my car in the middle of the afternoon on weekends, so that I've got a higher baseline there in case an Ohm hour hits. At some point, preserving the participation streak (and the multiplier) might make it worth it to ride through a bad solar hour, even if it means taking a negative point hit.
                      I've been using OhmCOnnect since September 2016. Last year I pocketed $2800 and received a 1099-MISC at tax time. I'm currently on a streak of 109 which results in a massive bonus each time...most recently 540%. Having a large forecast helps



                      Attached Files
                      [url]http://tiny.cc/m8ex0x[/url]

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by wwu123 View Post
                        I posted about OhmConnect here last year, just realized it was almost exactly a year ago, with no apparent interest from this community. But thought I'd share a few interesting updates as of late. OhmConnect is a demand-response service that can reward electricity conservation during certain hours called by the utility companies. Unlike some of the demand-response programs run by the utilities themselves that sometimes lock out solar customers (I'm looking at you, PG&E SmartRate), OhmConnect is open to solar customers.

                        Won't re-cap my long-winded initial post, but some updates:
                        -still primarily California - but I think in the last year they've added SDGE in addiiton to PG&E and SCE. They are talking to a few utilities in other parts of the country.
                        -it's not ideal for those already conserving, which includes many of the solar users here, because there's not much to cut back from your typical usage when you're already conserving. It good for normally wasteful users, and I'd also say those that have heavy A/C usages. The latter group can cut 4 to 5 kwH in a single OhmHour, and make up the the max of $20 frequently.
                        -but on the positive front for conserving users, they've recently introduced bonus multipliers that are now based on percentage conservation rather than absolute kwH. These can increase the payout by 2X or more, so even cutting say 0.5 KwH on a typical usage of 1kwH can pay out $1-2 each time. So many SolarPanelTalkers could fall into this category.

                        I netted about $20 in gains over the past year, but in a recent spate of 10 OhmHours I made $10 additional in the past month. And my multipliers are higher now than a month ago for the next few. It's literally free money, and I have it automated with smart plugs and thermostats I owned anyway.

                        As opposed to solar users, I would say if you're in one of the inland California counties and use a lot of A/C, you should look into it if you can afford to turn off the A/C or get out of the house for random hours. There's an open discussion forum on the OhmConnect site and you can see screenshots from folks htting $20 (2000 points) payouts multiple hours in a row.
                        Well, I haven't gone OhmConnect yet, sounds interesting. I had be a 78F person in the summer. But with the overproduction in the first month (June 4th 2018 is when my system went live) I've knocked it down to 76F - and bump it back up to 78 between 4pm-9pm weekdays (Peak Hour rates), I can see where I can easily use this with OhmConnect and do some pre-cooling, set the temp back high before the OhmConnect time, and then back again. I just need to get the Upstairs Honeywell Smart Thermostat back working (I need to pull a new control wire as there's a short somewhere between my Yellow and Blue wire (Compressor and Common) old thermostat, even though it was programmable didn't use the common, and it wasn't connected to the Dual Zone HVAC module (common is there between the HVAC and the dual zone, just not wired to the thermostats) Anyway, I tried to pull the wire myself, but the stupid builder ran the wire up through the ridge plate, but then dropped the attic joist right on top of the ridge plate, and the wiring is squished here - and likely the cause of the short. So need to drill a hole through both and run the new wire.

                        I need to look into this a bit more, but if I can make a little cash off it, for mild inconvenience, then that might be worth it. I'm going to see if I can't find some details on what times of days and how long these requests normally are.

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                        • #13
                          UKiwiS - Can you share a spreadsheet of your downloaded point history - Well, wipe out your actual point history, what I'm interested in is the dates and time windows that OhmConnect is asking for. That way I get a somewhat good idea of the time frames that I should expect? For example, should I be expecting a request just before 3am, when my whole house fan is running?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by TAZ427 View Post
                            UKiwiS - Can you share a spreadsheet of your downloaded point history - Well, wipe out your actual point history, what I'm interested in is the dates and time windows that OhmConnect is asking for. That way I get a somewhat good idea of the time frames that I should expect? For example, should I be expecting a request just before 3am, when my whole house fan is running?
                            Most OhmHours are either 7-8 pm or 8-9 pm. Nine of the last 10 are in those slots. A year ago it was different and earlier and I think the shift is due to the peak time shift. Bear in mind that different locations possibly have different times too. Here's my CSV file as of this morning...
                            https://goo.gl/YbbsSD

                            [url]http://tiny.cc/m8ex0x[/url]

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