When a Flex Alert is issued, you are asked to conserve electricity because there is an anticipated shortage of energy. Now, an energy company named OhmConnect wants to pay you to save.
"You're saving money by turning off your power, but then you're earning money by turning off your power. So it's kind of a double win," said Julie Madziarczyk, a customer.
The Madziarczyk family in Temecula has been paid roughly $700-$800 a year by Oakland based OhmConnect. Customers can choose to reduce power during what's called an "Ohm Hour," and are then paid by OhmConnect, who sells those savings on the daily energy market.
"That washing machine, that dryer, that dishwasher. Those things are great to just let sit there for an hour to turn them on a little later. We'll pay you to put off your chores," said Cisco DeVries, CEO of OhmConnect.
In August of last year, OhmConnect says its customers saved the equivalent of 600,000 homes removed from the power grid for an hour. And because the customer can opt out at any time, Dallas Yarusi never felt inconvenienced.
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"It's not like reverting back to life the 1800s or anything. You don't have to rough it. You just turn off some stuff and go for a walk or something. And you don't even notice it's happening," Yarusi described.
Customers get a notice at least 24 hours in advance that an Ohm Hour is scheduled, which is ample time to prepare. The Madziarczyks often just go out to dinner.
"You know, we have an Ohm Hour. Let's just go ahead, shut everything off and go. By the time we come back, it's over. And if you watch your phones, we get a message. Ohm Hour is about to start. We're out somewhere. Ohm Hour is finished. Okay, when we go home, we just, soon as we arrived, we just turn everything back on again," explained Scott Madziarczyk.
With smart technology, it's not even required to turn everything off. Depending on your level of participation, the company can remotely reduce the power for you.
"You can be a renter, you can have a trailer home, as long as you pay an electric bill, you're it. And I think that is also really important. Forty percent of OhmConnect customers are lower and moderate income. They're among our best customers. And they really excited about it," said DeVries.
Participation is free. But you need a utility bill to sign up, which takes only minutes on the OhmConnect website. For now in California, you have to be a customer of SoCal Edison, PG&E or San Diego Gas & Electric, but the hope is that in time, everyone will have a chance to be paid to save.