EDITOR’S NOTE: this is a second in a series of articles about energy management in the home
By: Sarah Reckard, Resideo communications
During the course of his career, Dave Oberholzer served in the Navy, worked at Verizon Wireless during the height of mobile adoption and grew the energy analytics business at WeatherBug. Resideo recently acquired the Whisker Labs technology that Oberholzer and Dr. Michael Siemann helped patent and deploy. It's a technology that helps optimize what he calls the largest and most complex machine ever created.
I sat down with him to learn about his engineering career, how he has found a calling in the energy sector and how his own children, and future generations, inspire him to find the answer to his generation’s biggest opportunity.
My kids are convinced that the electric grid is the most boring thing in the world. But it is the largest and most complex machine ever created by man, and it needs to adapt to meet every-changing consumer preferences. For example, in the 1950s and 60s, the rise of consumer appliances and air conditioning was possible due to the introduction of interconnected power grids and later, nuclear power. As the number of air conditioning units continued to increase, electric utilities had to build out their infrastructure to handle the load. Resideo’s heritage parent company, Honeywell, was a big player during that transformation. I am excited to be part of an organization that has the scale and market presence to make a big impact on the future.
Why is energy the key opportunity, and why do you want to focus on it now?
Electricity is social good: it’s what makes communities work…it keeps the streetlights on and the stoplights working. In fact, modern homes and communities quickly shut down if power is lost.
Cheap, reliable energy drives economic growth.But that progress also comes at a cost. Burning coal, oil or natural gas emits CO2 into the air and contributes to global warming. The increase in greenhouse gases is driving both the demand for cleaner energy and the need for more efficient use of it. I am compelled to help fix this for my kids, but also know there is a tremendous opportunity for innovative solutions in this space.
Energy is local, and Resideo can help manage the grid’s transition at the local level. For example, Texas is unique because it’s an energy island and is dependent on its own generation. It doesn’t have the capacity to import much energy from the North American grid. West Texas has the largest wind generation capabilities in the nation, and wind power is inexpensive to generate. But when the air is calm, Texas has limited back up options because there are fewer, traditional power plants in operation because wind is so cost effective, in most cases. Texas has no choice but to curtail load or risk a blackout.
This is where Resideo’s technology can help shift that load around so utilities avoid blackouts and homeowners avoid high prices. In July 2019, the hottest month ever recorded, we supported 393 U.S. utility events and shifted more than 320 megawatt hours of load off the grid, which is about the amount of power needed to power a small city for an hour.
This is just one example of how the decarbonization of our energy supply is hitting real, physical challenges. In order to make the full transition to renewables, we need to able to shift around enough energy to power a large city.
To help solve this challenge, look to the future. Kids get it. They care about climate change and they are asking the right questions: where does my electricity come from? Is it dirty? What can I do to help? I see this even in my own kids, who participated in the climate change strikes in September. Most American teens are frightened by climate change, and one fourth of high school-aged kids are taking action to do something about it. Now is the time to get started.