Cisco DeVries, energy expert and CEO of OhmConnect—a company that helps California residents lessen their energy consumption when the grid is stressed—has insights to share with us about the year we've just begun. Here are some things to ponder in 2020.

Stop Your House From “Smoking”

Burning natural gas in your home will begin to have the same stigma as smoking cigarettes. For health, environmental, economic, and social reasons, we’re beginning a movement toward "electrifying" everything.

In 2020, you’ll see electrification go from a concept to a reality, nation-wide. There are already over 20 cities in California (with three in Massachusetts and Seattle looking to follow suit) that have banned all new natural gas hookups for construction– even large cities like San Jose. There’s a bunch of reasons why this is happening– one of the main ones is the climate, of course, but beyond that it’s actually just unhealthy.

If you put an air quality meter next to your gas stove you’ll discover it’s terrible. In Bill Nilles’ recent op-ed in the NYTimes, he wrote, “scientific evidence has shown that gas stoves emit pollutants like nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide that can easily reach levels that would be illegal outdoors.” People will soon realize that it’s “dirty” and might lead to asthma or other conditions. “In 2008, Johns Hopkins scientists urged doctors to advise parents of asthmatic children to get rid of their gas stoves or at least install powerful exhaust hoods,” said Nilles.

Natural gas now is what the tobacco industry was 20-30 years ago. Data is just starting to come out on the harmful effects and once people start to hear about it, it will become a cultural stigma. And, when people catch on, the electrification movement will skyrocket.

Your Home Will Learn to “Speak” Energy (And Earn You Money)

Homes continue to get “smarter” and people are increasingly willing to implement devices to generate efficiency and save money. With a dominant trend toward higher rates that change based on market conditions, this will become more important than ever.

Senator Nancy Skinner authored SB49, “Clean Power, Smart Power”, which requires manufacturers to make "smart appliances" to help take stress off the grid. There will also be a new requirement in 2020 that all new builds will need to be solar, which allows buildings to become grid interactive. This reinforces the notion that energy demand is flexible and we all have the supply.

Senator Skinner’s goal is to get millions of homes to be “grid responsive”. By transitioning to smart technology (e.g., nest thermostat or smart plugs) in one’s home, this will allow homeowners to easily reduce the energy they consume, and shift the time of day they use it. The consumers and state will then manage energy use in a way that dramatically reduces the need for more power plants. Even better, these consumers can get paid for their reductions!

Enabling homes to be smarter will allow people to control their energy usage–and their bills.

Your Home as Your Energy Castle

As the number of fires and power outages increase, we will continue to see a widespread movement toward consumers taking control of their energy security. 2020 will be a breakout year for battery storage as people realize it not only keeps lights and appliances on during an outage, it also manages electric bills and can earn some money on the side.

During periods in the day when the sun is shining, filling up your batter is essentially free (and zero carbon). That free energy can be used in the evening when the price of power from the grid is expensive and it is coming from dirty fossil fuels. This will be particularly useful when California utility companies (like SCE and PG&E) introduce their Time-of-Use pricing and Californians will be exposed to the real-time price of energy.

With storage, people will have their power (both physically and metaphorically) in their home to manage their utility rates. In California, millions of users will experience a significant rate changes as utility companies switch to time-of-use pricing, but with their own storage, they can make that power work for themselves.


-Cisco DeVries

Cisco invented one of the most successful clean energy finance products (PACE) named one of Scientific American Magazine’s Top 20 “World-Changing” Ideas, he served in the Energy Department at the White House during the Clinton Administration, and was chief of staff to the Mayor of Berkeley. 

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