Green is a crucial part of the offering, but not the only benefit microgrid clients are seeking, said Rod Matthews from San Diego, California-based microgrid producer Brevian Energy.
"We're looking at ways to help make power much more affordable for people and resilient because you are generating it yourself. So you're not relying on the grid. So when the grid goes down a lot of times you don't even know about it," said Matthews.
"For us, one of the key things is to make it much more responsible, meaning we are reducing those greenhouse gas emissions," Matthews said.
Learn more about:
- High utility rates, batteries and peak shaving in San Diego, California
- Net energy metering in California and Northern Europe
- The trend of microgrids in California and the US
- Learnings from managed service provider company
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Tarmo Virki 0:05
Welcome to nature backed the talk show about the green economy. My name is Tarmo Virki. And today my guest is Rod Matthews from Brevian Energy, we will be speaking about micro grids. Hi, Ron, welcome to nature backed.
Rod Matthews 0:20
Thank you for having me. I really appreciate you having me on your show today.
Tarmo Virki 0:24
Tell me in a few words, what do you exactly do?
Rod Matthews 0:28
Well, I have a company that we founded called rivian. Energy. And we are a micro grid solution provider for commercial clients. And what that is, really, we combine various generation technologies like solar, advanced battery systems, hydrogen, fuel, sales, wind, turbans, geothermal, and we take a mixture of all of those, or you know, some of those components, put them together with advanced control systems. And we generate power, through all these renewable sources for our clients, be that individual company or a property or community, or in a lot of cases, we're looking at utility scale projects to do that with,
Tarmo Virki 1:19
okay. In a few it was, what's the kind of location you are across us in some certain state becoming right now?
Rod Matthews 1:30
Right now, you know, we are in San Diego, California right now. And unfortunately, here for San Diego, we have the highest utility rates in the entire United States. So our electric costs are, you know, phenomenal. Number one, we have what's called Time of Use. So are, we don't get charged a flat rate, we get charged a variable rate, depending on the time that we use it. And that time from like four o'clock pm to nine o'clock PM, which is the time where everybody's home, everybody's watching TV, everybody's cooking and doing laundry, you're paying maybe five times more than you'd be paying in the daytime for your power. So we're looking at ways to help make power much more affordable for people much more resilient, because you are generating it yourself. So you're not relying on the grid. So when the grid goes down, a lot of times you don't even know about it. And for us, one of the key things is to make it much more responsible, meaning we are reducing those greenhouse gas emissions. So that's really important to what we do.
Tarmo Virki 2:42
Absolutely. And and I think micro grids in general are having that impact, you know, mostly using solar and other kinds of renewable energy sources anyway. So absolutely impact is significant. I think looking kind of beyond San Diego, probably a lot of a lot of listeners are struggling with a similar challenge is that the power prices are really, really high. And the kind of timing of the consumption is linked to the directly to the price. I think we're having similar problems across Europe. And I'm sure there are there parts in the US also, what's for micro grid. I mean, you know, if I have a small house, that's probably not the first thing I would be thinking of, is it more for the commercial clients for the corporation, we only
Rod Matthews 3:26
focus on commercial clients. But for residential users, it makes a lot of sense as well. We have right now in California, we have what's called net metering, net energy metering, where there was an agreement with the local utilities that if you have solar, you produce solar, and you're not using it all the excess solar, you sell it back to the utility company at about 85% of what the retail rate would be. So that's net energy metering 2.0. They just changed it to net energy metering 3.0, where now you get paid, you know, mere pennies on $1. You're selling it back to them at wholesale rate, they're selling the deal at retail, and you're selling it back to them at wholesale rates. Crazy. So they have really disincentivize it. So now, instead of you looking to get credits for your excess power, we say all that excess power, you've banked that into a battery, and you have a system that has the intelligence to do what's called Peak shaving. So at that time, four o'clock to nine o'clock PM, when your rate is the highest, you can have the ability to shift your load to your battery systems. So you're not pulling from the grid at those High Times saving you a tonne of money.
Tarmo Virki 4:50
Similar situation in Northern Europe means that from roughly that time when people come to home, the biggest energy use is probably sound ah, but that's not Probably in San Diego, so big deal, right?
Rod Matthews 5:03
No, not really. out of the air conditioning, it gets pretty hot here, you know, true location. And so yeah, AC and then in those winter months, you know heating, you know heating. So heating and cooling are really are are two major, you know consumptions because of the climate that we have here.
Tarmo Virki 5:24
I assume that most of your most of your kind of installations have, firstly solar, but how much of the other how much of the other technologies you are having already today.
Rod Matthews 5:36
Right now, primarily, we're doing solar and advanced battery systems and advanced control systems. But we are doing projects that include the hydrogen fuel cells, that projects that require baseload power, because there's a natural gas component to the hydrogen fuel cell products that we delivered. It does, however, still reduce the amount of greenhouse gases about by at least 50%. And go into that way, but there is still some component of that. But there's that resiliency factor, because the natural gas, infrastructure is all underground. So it's not susceptible to weather and you know, all those kinds of problems. In times where people have loss of electricity, they'd never have loss of, of natural gas, per se. So because it relies on that is much more resilient, we can offer that as true baseload power, as opposed to the, you know, the somewhat sporadic nature of like wind or even the sunshine,
Tarmo Virki 6:45
resilience and micro grids, something which kind of go hand in hand for absolutely, because the the kind of security of the of the big power systems and the big power lines is a big issue around the world, specially in Europe these days.
Rod Matthews 7:04
And we do see that as a natural national security issue. Number one, you know, at least see the decentralisation of the grid as a way to get that security. So you're not relying on you know, one big source of power generation that can be taken out. You know, we saw that here in San Diego about five or six years ago, I believe. There was any vet a guy changing out a fuse in Arizona. And, you know, didn't follow the proper procedures shorted something out. Luckily, he didn't kill himself. But he shorted out power, he sat down power for all of Southern California for about seven hours to include cell phone towers. Everything, once he everything, wants the white guy, one guy, one guy. Wow. So all of Southern California for about seven hours,
Tarmo Virki 8:02
I would have thought that the the kind of most likely scenarios of that kind of their big, big great energy production risks are related to maybe cyber attacks and or things like that. But no one feels
Rod Matthews 8:15
of things change.
Tarmo Virki 8:17
Wow. I mean, the human factor.
Rod Matthews 8:19
You he's just like, I was so lucky, he didn't kill himself.
Tarmo Virki 8:23
What about the kind of the company size today? How big are you guys?
Rod Matthews 8:29
Well, right now we have six full time employees. And we have a number of outsource 1099 employees, our installation crew, they are, you know, 1099. For us? Well, 1099 being they are like contract employees are not fully on the payroll, he's in a company. So that allows us to be nimble and really scaled. And then we have an association with an organisation that allows us to perform installations really anywhere in the country. We can we can scale through and through that. So you know, we're looking to grow our our products have been well received in the market, I think, by us kind of branding ourselves as the microgrid specialists as opposed to just solar people, I think gives us really a leg a leg up, because we have a more compelling story to tell. So we see we see growth, really in our future.
Tarmo Virki 9:22
How about kind of micro grids in general? Is this a trend you're seeing in California or?
Oh, worldwide, not just not just, you know, here in California, California here in America really leads the way and almost everything. Right? As far as California goes, so goes the United States, in most cases, because we're really 10% of our gross domestic product is really generated here in the state of California. So consumer trends tend to go in our direction.
the back the what I wanted to ask the if the if California is setting the trend for the rest of the US? How much do you see that trend already kind of sticking to them? Do you see the an N A request coming from out of state? Or do you see a lot of Boomer states?
Rod Matthews 10:28
Absolutely. No, we were just at a conference a couple of weeks ago, and they were really kind of talking about the best states to do power purchase agreements for power, you know, meaning power purchase agreement means the customer doesn't really have to pay any money upfront, they just make an agreement to purchase power for you, from you for about 20 to 25 years for them is really no different than, you know, their local utility, you know, cuz at the end of the day, they just want to, you know, flip a switch on the wall and a light comes on, they don't really care how it happens, you know, they don't really care about the whole electron process or anything, care about the electrons, they don't get his green, blue, white or purple. But when they turn on that light, and it comes on, and then at the end of the month, they get a bill that's like 30 to 50% less than what they were getting before. I mean, everybody's happy.
Tarmo Virki 11:18
Exactly, exactly. The what I wanted to ask the the typical commercial client, what kind of companies they are, are they big factories, or are they
Rod Matthews 11:31
varies, it varies here in San Diego. You know, we don't have a lot of big fortune 500 companies, you know, just up the street, and, you know, Orange County, and in Los Angeles, you know, you have some more fortune 500 type companies, but here in San Diego, we have a lot of, you know, small to medium sized businesses. So we have a lot of business parks, we have a lot of warehouses, in these business parks, they have, you know, big buildings with multiple tenants, or, you know, they may have, you know, a couple of companies in each of these kind of business parks. So those are the kind of areas that we're targeting those business parks in those warehouses. One, if you have operations that, you know, go around the clock, and you operate during that four o'clock to nine o'clock pm period, we've already discussed how costly that could be. So to be able to just save them from that aspect to do what's called Peak shaving. And there's a there's one more component to the electric bill here that most people really don't really understand. It's called a demand charge. So not only are you charged for the power that you're used, but that user consumed at, you know, those variable rates depending on what time of day. But you're also charged for the most amount of power that's made available for you to consume in that month. So that's it, they break it down to a 15 minute period, they call it intervals. So your highest interval at that month, you get a charge associated with that. So let's say you're only home two days a week. But those two days a week, you are home between four o'clock and nine o'clock PM, and you turn on everything you you play guitar, you turn on all your amplifiers, and you turn on all eight TVs, and your washer, your dryer and all that all at the same time. But you'd have a neighbour who your older couple, they go to bed at about five o'clock every day, you know, they you know, they barely watch TV, but they're home every day. You know, during the daytime, you're all watching her TV and all that you're only home two days a week between four and nine, when you get your bill at the end of the month, it's probably twice what they pay, just because of the variables that we talked about. Because you turn on all your stuff you come home. So that demand the power that's made available to you. There's that demand component that we talked about. But also, you're consuming your power at the highest time of the day between four o'clock and nine o'clock PM. But we can build a micro grid that allows you to generate your own power, and not even have to worry about those times a days you can zoom or you can support your own loads. You don't have to pull those Hi loads from the grid, saving you about 30 or 30 to 50% of your current bill. Yeah,
Tarmo Virki 14:24
they want to challenge is that you're focused on commercial clients. If that dude who's at home only two days a week, he's not the company then it's a bit of a challenge for you guys to serve. Right?
Rod Matthews 14:35
My for us? Yes, because that's not the market we focus on but they there are absolutely solutions out there for those home users as well that are similar in nature. But you know, I've always been a business to business kind of guy. This is my you know, I'm a serial entrepreneur. But in all I've never had a business to consumer company because I I really don't really care for that model.
Tarmo Virki 15:02
It's more risky, I would say
Rod Matthews 15:05
it's more risky is a lot, a lot more difficult to penetrate. It's a lot more marketing efforts you have to pursue. I like to have, you know, I can be laser focused with my commercial clients, I know exactly who I'm going after I can target them. And I'm not depending on, you know, the lady's whim, to come along and just kill my products.
Tarmo Virki 15:30
Exactly. So to say, yeah, the, as you said, your serial and private, what have you been building before?
Rod Matthews 15:39
I have a technology background. So I have managed service provider company for IT services. Now, again, for commercial clients. You know, we didn't repair computers for like, 100 users. But yes, yes. So you know, a couple of iterations of that, one in partnership, and then one, as a, as a solo entrepreneur, started a managed services company, we still we're still in operation today as a medical.
Tarmo Virki 16:06
Very cool, and how are you able to kind of take those learnings from the IT services sector into the utility or the microcredit,
Rod Matthews 16:17
I think is great, because I you know, for me, I see everything as a service. And that's what we did as it we provided it as a service to our client base. So just in that alone, understanding the service delivery kind of framework, understanding the scope that's associated with it, understanding that you act, as you know, not only a provider, but a consultant as well to help your clients get the maximum use out of whatever service you give them, you maximise that, so just understanding that I think is really helped transition. Those philosophies in our in our kind of business acumen, transfer down to helping us grow and be successful is worth.
Tarmo Virki 17:08
Absolutely. Good. Thank you. Thank you, Rod for your time this evening in this part of the world morning in your part of the world. And good luck in the microgrid revolution.
Rod Matthews 17:21
I really appreciate it. And I look forward to coming to Estonia one day and deploying some micro grids over there as well.
Tarmo Virki 17:27
Good stuff. Thank you so much. You're more than welcome here. All right. Well,
Rod Matthews 17:30
you have a wonderful day.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai