Changes at OhmConnect in 2018 - A Q&A with OhmConnect President Cadir Lee

What changed, what stayed the same and what you can look forward to in 2019.

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By
Katie Overmonds
-
January 10, 2018

2018 was a time of growth, development and change at OhmConnect. We made some changes to shift our platform, introduced a new status level to reward those with deep energy reductions, launched the MEGA Summer program that paid out our highest rewards to date, and introduced a chance for users to win prizes simply for connecting a smart device. We also made some changes to shift our program to more closely align with energy grid needs that, while necessary, unfortunately ruffled some feathers. If you missed our President, Cadir Lee addressing some of the upgrades, as well as the bumps in the road, you can watch the video here.

Don’t want to spend 30 minutes watching a video? We’ve summarized some of the highlights below!

Community Question:  What are some of the changes that were made to the OhmConnect experience in 2018?

Cadir: “First off, we changed streaks. Streaks used to give users a 5% bonus for every successful #OhmHour they achieved, with no end. This year we capped streaks at a maximum of 20, or a 100% bonus in points. We provided a fallback so now if someone breaks their streak they fall back to 10 #OhmHours in a row (which comes with a 50% bonus) instead of dropping them back to 0. That came from a need to shift what we were paying for. While the streaks and consistent energy saving is important, people were becoming so focused on streaks that they were losing sight of the bigger picture.

Secondly, we introduced a new status level: Diamond status. This is a reward for folks who can reduce more than 80% of their energy usage or more on a consistent basis. Now, if you can average an 80% energy reduction below your forecast for the most recent 20 #OhmHours, you’ll reach Diamond status and earn a 2.5X multiplier on all #OhmHours going forward.

And the third thing is Prize #OhmHours. As we came off the summer season - our busiest time - we got a lot of feedback from people saying “We want more #OhmHours!” and so we thought ‘What if we brought some of the excitement of MEGA Summer and the prize draws we were doing then, and kept those going all year ‘round?’.

Community Question:  Why are you making these changes to streaks and statuses?

Cadir: “For those who haven't been with OhmConnect as long, it’s important to know we make changes all the time. We introduced streaks, we changed streaks. We introduced status levels and we’ve changed those. We introduced referral bonuses and those have changed. We are constantly evolving and developing to make our business as good as it can be. I remember when we first created streaks we asked each other ‘Should we put a cap on this?’ and we thought ‘No, let’s see where it goes’. And the community is amazing! We see people with streaks of 100 or 150 #OhmHours in a row and that’s fantastic, but it’s putting the effort in the wrong place. Our streak construct made it seem like it was important to save just a little bit of energy consistently every week but what the grid really needs is BIG reductions at the right time and we felt like we were putting the focus in the wrong place.”

Community Question:  How does OhmConnect get paid?

Cadir: “The energy market is complex but the thing to understand is that supply -  so generation like power plants and solar farms - and demand always have to be balanced. So when we turn on the lights, somewhere that energy is being generated, right at that moment. What happens is that when there’s more demand -- because people are turning on their air conditioners or their microwaves or whatever -- the grid has a decision: Do I turn on another dirty power plant to make extra energy or do I ask people to share energy (some people use less so other people can use more) and to share energy and get paid what I would have paid that peaker plant? So that’s how we get paid: we provide that alternative by asking people to share energy and reduce their consumption to bring that demand back down, and we get paid for that.”

Community Question:  Why didn’t you consult with the community before making changes?

Cadir: “We did, actually! We sent a lot of surveys out. Surveys to a variety of people - those who had long streaks and those who had just started with #OhmHours and there were certainly lots of mixed opinions. And we had to balance those opinions with our own business needs. For a look behind the scenes - we have paid out a lot more money to our community than we have actually earned and we are still building the business and we need to make sure everything works out. What we saw is that the amount we were paying out for streaks was a lot more than we were being paid for those events, which just isn’t sustainable in the long run.”

Community Question: “Surely there’s another way to save money while making sure users don’t quit OhmConnect?”

Cadir: “I certainly hope none of these changes mean our community will be done with OhmConnect. While the money we pay out is important, OhmConnect is so much more than that. We’re trying to allow people to participate in the energy market, but it’s bigger than that. It’s really about the impact we’re allowing people to have on the energy grid and the environment. With the tragic wildfires that are going on throughout California, it really hits home how important our environment is. When we’re able to help the grid and stop a dirty power plant from creating emissions, we’re collectively doing something amazing that we’ve never had the chance to do before. I hope people will see past the realignment of payments and hopefully stick with us as we continue to think of new ways to let us make an impact and get paid at the same time.”

Community Question: “Will you continue to make changes going forward?”

Cadir: “Yes. Our business is constantly changing and likely always will. This is because the energy industry is changing, our environment is changing and the tech community is changing. If we didn’t continue to evolve and change and improve, we would never keep up. We are committed to staying as current and beneficial to our users as we can, always.”

Community Question: “What kinds of changes can we expect going forward?”

Cadir: “We’re going to continue making changes - some will have more ripple and some will have less. Some of the things we’re looking at are:

  • Community: We’re looking at ways to better connect you with people in your zip code or neighborhood or town.
  • Control: We’re looking at ways to give users more control over when they get #OhmHours.
  • Devices: Some exciting things happening with voice-assistants like Google Home and Alexa.”

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