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Voltus, Inc.
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542 Presidio Boulevard
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United States

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Still Seeking: Women in Cleantech!

Dana Guernsey


A little over a year ago I posted about how cleantech has a pipeline problem with recruiting female candidates - a problem that perpetuates itself because the status quo continues to be a male-dominated industry.  At Voltus, we are committed to making targeted efforts to attract women to the industry.  Whereas in early 2018, 33% of our job candidates were female, and only 26% of our employees were female, today, we are at 50% of our job candidates (a goal we committed to as a leadership team), and 40% of our team. By focusing on recruiting an equal number of men as women, the employee count starts to come naturally.  

Today is International Women's Day, and for all of the forward progress we have made, women are still a ways away from full and true equality.  We need to continue to fight the gender gap.  In cleantech this means encouraging more women to enter, stay in, and become leaders in this amazing field. Building a cleaner and more sustainable future is one of the best opportunities to have a positive influence in the world. It impacts everyone, and getting it right makes our planet better. It is exciting, fun, and has a positive social impact . . . something that research shows women care about significantly when considering their careers. 

At Voltus, we know our work is not done.  We need to continue to proactively recruit female candidates . . . the male candidates still come to us easily based on our broader networks, but that is slowly changing. We have done more direct outreach to female candidates, recruited more through university networks, and posted and networked within female-based industry groups. We've created a culture that makes it easier for working-moms to have exciting careers in a flexible working environment. I have both a three year old and an eight month old and I know it's hard . . . ok impossible! . . . to do it all.  However, things like flexible work hours, working from home, a supportive team, and three months of paid parental leave go a long way.  

Join us!

Jon Wellinghoff's New Year's Resolution - Double Your DR $s

Gregg Dixon


Our experts want to help you with a single new year's resolution: double your dollars in demand response in 2019 with these five tips: 

  1. Jon Wellinghoff, former Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and "Father of Demand Response": "You'll want to "stack" multiple demand response programs. If you're only in one program, you're missing out on many new programs. I'm aware of up to six programs being stacked at a single facility."

  2. Ed Sayers, Vice President of Energy at Simon Property Group: "Optimize your enrolled kW. DR works off of a simple formula: kW x $'s = earnings. Squeeze every kW you can by reevaluating your operational flexibility and enrollment levels. As you invest in energy controls or new equipment you'll often find that you can enable more kW, with quicker response times. That's more cash." 

  3. Alex Laskey, founder and former President of Opower: "Take advantage of "out-of-market" demand response. You can double the value you get from curtailing loads. In nearly every North American power market, businesses incur peak demand charges. Moreover, transmission capacity charges are often greater than generation capacity expenses. You'll want to avoid these." 

  4. Dana Guernsey, Vice President of Product and Energy Markets at Voltus: "Get back your backup generator. The opportunity to use your generator in demand response programs has returned. These resources are the highest quality power for your facility and a high quality type of demand response."

  5. Phil Giudice, former Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources and CEO of Ambri: "Negotiate contract terms carefully. Look beyond simple top line revenue sharing percentages. Details matter and vary by program, market and geography. Some customers are surprised when it comes to unfamiliar terms such as "gross up." You can increase your earnings 10% to 30% per year by making sure you get a piece of all of the profitable opportunities available."  

Are you resolved to double your dollars in demand response in 2019? Email us for a detailed review of your portfolio ( - not .com) and we'll show you all the options to guarantee you hit that New Year's resolution.

David vs. Goliath

Dana Guernsey

In the wake of Entergy astroturfing the citizens of New Orleans, it not only continues to attempt an end-around to influence the New Orleans City Council by pressuring non-profits that receive Entergy support, but it has come out swinging against a better alternative to its $210 million power plant. The alternative, a virtual power plant, has laid bare Entergy's desperation to get their 128 MW power plant shoehorned through the regulatory process. Here's the upshot: if a massive, multi-billion dollar utility is publicly challenging an innovative startup then you need to ask why . . . the answer is because New Orleans has the opportunity to buy the value of a $210 million power plant for less than $10 million.

Here we'll address Entergy's public comments in their attempt to cast doubt on the value and application of Voltus's peaking power plant for New Orleans:

  • Entergy disputes the Voltus model. The hypocrisy of this statement is laughable, as Entergy already has a virtual power plant of its own in New Orleans. It pays large industrial loads more than $63,000/MW-year for agreeing to be interrupted. So, which is it, Entergy, do you believe these resources are valuable or not (if not, why aren't you arguing against your own interruptible rate?). The dirty secret here is that Entergy only offers it to the very largest industrial loads which prevents small and medium sized organizations from benefiting.

  • Neal Kirby, Entergy spokesperson, argues that the Voltus peaking power plant isn't a power plant "because a power plant does not exist." Neal, you're clearly not familiar with what we do nor the technical details of a virtual power plant, thousands of which have been developed and proven around the world (see Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s virtual power plant which they tout as a “clean and innovative alternative” to a decades old fossil-fuel plant in Oakland). Entergy’s response is instead like that of a taxi driver not being familiar with why Lyft is a far superior product, while arguing against Lyft in hopes of protecting an antiquated way of operating. Further, a virtual power plant is not just load curtailment; it’s an aggregation of hundreds, even thousands, of behind-the-meter distributed energy resources, including onsite generation. There are hundreds of these small, on-site generators in New Orleans that could be part of the virtual power plant, along with energy storage, energy efficiency, and load curtailment (the three of which are commonly known as DERs or distributed energy resources). This may be a helpful analogy: Entergy wants to build a mainframe whose power is used very rarely (the 128 MW peaking power plant at a cost of $210 million) while Voltus is building a much more efficient series of laptops that distribute the computing power, efficiency, and value to all users (the 125 MW virtual power plant that costs ratepayers nothing to build and delivers cash directly into the pockets of the distributed users who participate). 

  • Neal also says "even if the company’s plan is achievable, it would not replace the need for a local power source to maintain stability and prevent widespread outages." Odd, considering that’s exactly what it would do. Voltus has reached out to Entergy on multiple occasions to engage, educate, and work together to bring a diverse mix of resources to market. Entergy has never replied to us, and as demonstrated by Neal’s comments, remains willfully ignorant on the topic. Let us educate you: the Voltus virtual power plant will deliver 125 MWs within the city limits of New Orleans. It's not only local, it's more local than Entergy's power plant, and is woven into the fabric of New Orleans' demand for electricity exactly where the demand exists. 

  • "Kirby, in his statement on behalf of Entergy, said the utility questions whether large facilities, such as hospitals and big retailers, would be suitable customers for Voltus given their power needs." In fact, these very customers are participating in virtual power plants around the country and have been for decades. This is why Voltus can so quickly build our 125 MW power plant while it will take years for Entergy to build theirs. These facilities can be enabled to participate using their existing building management systems coupled with Voltus technology in less than 60 minutes. 

  • Neal mentions Entergy's "black start" capabilities. Smoke and mirrors. Few people fully understand this term. The Voltus virtual power plant also has black start capabilities. We'll let Neal explain what black start is, while hoping nobody's eyes glaze over. Furthermore, we'll hope he touches on the fact that black start is a) standard operating procedure for any modern power plant (it's as if he said, "Our car is amazing. It has tires!") and b) largely irrelevant when distribution infrastructure is compromised in an emergency.

  • Finally, Neal touts the benefits of the Entergy power plant being able to restore power after a hurricane. Entergy can only deliver power from a central power plant if its distribution infrastructure (wires, transformers, etc.) are available after a hurricane. Entergy has had a hard enough time keeping cats out of distribution facilities. Furthermore, Entergy seems entirely indifferent to following through on its 100 MW solar commitment to the city while its maintenance records are atrocious. In 2016 alone Entergy had 2,599 outages, 99% of which were associated with distribution system issues downstream of power production.

New Orleans has an amazing opportunity to benefit from a new power plant in the next 12 months. And it has the opportunity to save each ratepayer $500 by choosing the benefits of a virtual power plant.  We hope the New Orleans City Council (local representative contact information here) will support this win-win solution and make ratepayers aware of its benefits. 

Dana Guernsey - VP of Product and Energy Markets

What Can the World's Largest Database of Demand Response Programs Do For You?

Gregg Dixon


Did you know that an Interstate Power and Light demand response program in Iowa pays commercial and industrial customers $64,640 per MW per year for their demand response capability? That’s among the highest paying demand response programs in the US, yet only about 160 sites are signed up to the program out of the more than 86,000 commercial and industrial accounts in the service territory, nearly 1,500 of which are large industrial loads.

Today, we announced the launch of CashDash, the world’s largest database of demand response programs. The purpose of CashDash is to identify every opportunity for large energy consumers to monetize operational flexibility by simply entering zip codes and load reduction capabilities for each site. CashDash is especially valuable to multi-site enterprise accounts that aren’t fully aware of the multitude of programs available around the world.

CashDash captures both revenue and savings-generating demand response program opportunities, including wholesale market, regulated utility, and third-party programs. These programs are categorized into capacity, energy, and ancillary services with 36 separate program attributes that allow a customer to target programs best suited for their operational profile. Currently, CashDash contains 137 distinct demand response programs that average $41,390/MW-year in value, many of which are stackable cashflow streams that more than double the value a customer would typically see in demand response. In fact, the current world record for stackable demand response programs is six, found in certain regions of Pennsylvania, carrying a $222,138/MW-year value.

“CashDash is revolutionary in its application. We often find that a multi-national industrial, for example, is missing more than 50 percent of the potential cash from demand response because, with limited staff, it’s impossible to track the hundreds of programs available from thousands of electric utilities and markets,” said Gregg Dixon, CEO of Voltus. “CashDash ensures that they leave no money on the table.”

We don't have the time nor resources to track all of these programs. But we also can't afford to miss valuable savings opportunities. Voltus's CashDash made it easy for us to identify every program and its suitability to our properties, each one of which has a unique operating profile.



“CashDash delivers value to large energy consumers, electric utilities, and even our competition,” said Dana Guernsey, Vice President of Product at Voltus. “CashDash helps utilities that have traditionally had a difficult time marketing their programs to enterprise customers who may not have a contact in the utility region. And CashDash highlights our competitors’ programs where Voltus may not have an offering. Ultimately, we want our large energy consumers to know where every bit of cash is hidden in these markets.”

For a CashDash portfolio review email

Can DR Power Time Travel?

Gregg Dixon


Voltus just exceeded 1.21 gigawatts of demand response under management. We think Marty McFly and Dr. Emmett Brown of "Back to the Future" movie fame would find this very appealing (although, Doc, you need to learn how to pronounce gigawatt)!

“We’re true energy geeks here at Voltus. When our portfolio crossed 1,000 MWs of demand response under management, we were eager to celebrate and make a public announcement. But our teammates said, ‘Wait, when we get to 1.21 gigawatts, we’ll be able to power a DeLorean into the future!’ so we just had to hold off,” said Dana Guernsey, VP of product and energy markets at Voltus.

“Now that we’re grown up and have kids of our own, we’re finding that they’re discovering the cultural icons of our past, so we’ll be in 'Back to the Future' Halloween costumes tonight,” said Matt Plante, president of Voltus. “Our portfolio of demand response is now in 25 states, two countries and delivered across thousands of sites. Although we can’t provide a single source of power to get that DeLorean into the vortex of time, that’s not the point of demand response. Our resource can deliver value to grid operators, utilities and end-users here and now in a multitude of applications.”

Here is what 1.21 gigawatts can do for us:

  • Deliver nearly $40 million per year in cash payments to demand response participants

  • Deliver more than $1 billion per year in ratepayer savings

  • Eliminate the need to build a new coal or nuclear central power plant

  • Increase grid resilience and prevent grid blackouts and brownouts

  • Provide the equivalent power of nearly five million solar panels

  • Eliminate greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 44,142,283 miles driven by an average passenger vehicle

And if, like us, you're shuttling your kids around tonight to all of the candy hot spots, please be safe and enjoy!

Could Demand Response Be a Better Deal than Solar for Iowa Customers?

Gregg Dixon


The Energy News article, "Could solar be a better deal than demand response for Iowa customers?" is an unfortunate hit piece that one might consider "friendly fire." Kerri Johannsen, an environmentalist with the Iowa Environmental Council, questions the value of demand response in Iowa, relative to solar as an option to address peak demand. Unfortunately, she doesn't attempt to quantify the economic benefits of solar to Iowans but she's more than eager to cut down demand response.

She got it half right. We agree wholeheartedly that Iowans are paying too much for demand response, especially in light of the fact that demand response has been dispatched so rarely in Iowa over the years. Where she got it wrong for those of us serving up clean energy is that she didn't put forth a clear economic argument for solar. She could have said, "Could cold fusion be a better deal than solar for Iowa customers?" and leave Iowans scratching their heads just the same, left hanging on whether there are numbers behind her argument. Iowans deserve better.

We’re not solar experts so we won't attempt to knock the benefits of solar. What we can say is that demand response has proven to be the least cost, most reliable, and cleanest source of energy to meet the top 10 percent of peak demand. And we're willing to do the math and compare it to any alternative resource:

  • 10% of peak demand lasts less than 1% of the hours of the year (or about 80 hours a year). This is a well known fact for most electricity grids for which everyone in the power industry can agree, well supported by DOE Energy Information Administration Data. This simple fact is why the demand response industry exists. Power generation is the only industry where we have traditionally used only supply-side resources to address demand. Many peaking power plants in the US run for less than 1% of the hours of the year. Yet, we don't build 20 lane highways for rush hour, we don't build churches for Christmas and Easter, we don't roll out another plane to carry the five overbooked passengers on a flight.

  • However, because states have largely incentivized utilities to build assets that capture a guaranteed rate of return on the rate base, a perverse incentive exists that prevents the benefits from demand response to be realized by rate payers. Every state, including Iowa, has the opportunity to use the price elasticity of supply and demand to arrive at a market-driven, economically efficient answer, while preserving traditional rate base models that carry important benefits.

  • The "price to beat," so to speak, in solving the peak demand challenge is the cost of new entry, the standard for which in the US is a simple cycle combustion turbine. On average in the US, the cost of new entry ranges from $87,300 to $121,300 per MW-year. 

  • Additionally, demand response carries tremendous reliability advantages due to its dispatchability. Power resources that are dispatchable can help avoid blackouts, or lost load. The value of lost load (VOLL) ranges in MISO from $29,299 per MWh for small C&I customers to $42,256 per MWh for industrial loads. DR provides grid operators, utilities, and states with a vital resource that is proven to increase grid reliability while putting dollars back in the pockets of rate payers. Over the past twenty years, as DR has gained prevalence, it has prevented dozens of blackouts throughout the country (from Texas to PJM) and often when traditional generation was expected to be available.

  • Finally, the cleanest MWh is the one never used. No doubt solar is clean. Just not as clean as an avoided MWh or MW. Kerri's position leaves us scratching our heads about why an environmental organization, undoubtedly knowing the environmental benefits of DR, wouldn't advocate with specificity the changes that need to be made to MidAmerican's approach to DR to not only make it more economical but to expand DR's market penetration and use during the hours she says solar would make sense. DR can be dispatched 24/7/365 with the right market price signals. Kerri must know that PJM, for instance, has implemented this very approach.

This brings us to the economics of DR in Iowa. We agree with Kerri that Iowa is paying too much for DR. We encourage Iowa to make use of the MISO LMR auction price to determine the value of the DR resource and to determine whether DR is even necessary. Iowa is, in effect, subsidizing an out-of-market resource with MidAmerican's DR tariff. It may seem self-defeating for a DR company to say that the DR resource in Iowa may not be necessary at all. But we believe in the power of markets and a market's ability to determine the most efficient balance of supply and demand. In the case of DR in Iowa (and many other MISO states), if there is too much supply then the price should fall accordingly. If there's not enough supply then the price should rise. Currently, the price for DR in the MISO market is $3,650 per MW-year and $3,500 per MWh only when dispatched. Taking a market-based approach would save Iowans approximately $16.6 million per year. Can solar beat those figures? Can coal? Can natural gas? Can nukes? We're willing to bet a prime rib dinner from the Pink Poodle with anyone who can beat it.

The real beauty of demand response is the simple fact that it meets everyone's needs, albeit for a small portion of power delivery (that 10% of peak demand). It is attractive to those of us who love the power of markets. It is attractive to those of us who love the best price. It is attractive to those of us who value resilience. It is attractive to those of us who value a world of sustainable energy. 

But if DR isn't the best deal in town. You better bring your calculator and make your case.

PJM DR - Just and Reasonable?

Gregg Dixon


As if reminding us of our favorite quote from George Orwell's Animal Farm, PJM and its Market Monitor argue that seasonal demand response (DR) and renewable resources would suppress capacity prices because they would only have to deliver for part of the year. Yet PJM bills its peak demand charge (which can amount to as much as 30% of an electricity bill) on the highest five hours of demand during the year (that's 0.06% of the hours in a year)! If PJM managed the interstate highway system we would all be paying for 30-lane highways needed to accommodate the busiest rush-hour traffic on a single day of the year.

It's curious why PJM is still designing their annual capacity needs using summer peak demand to set the market price for capacity while arguing that demand response shouldn't be allowed to satisfy market requirements if it isn't available in the winter. How ironic that peak demand, and that which sets the physical value of demand response, is used to argue against demand response because of its typically seasonal nature.  It's even more ironic that this bit of regulatory tomfoolery is the direct product of 40,200 MWs (22% of PJM's resources) of generators that failed to deliver in the dead of winter during the 2014 polar vortex. 

And since when did price competition become a bad thing? Perhaps it's explained by generator coalition interests (e.g., the PJM Power Providers), who state that it would be a "scary" and "daunting" task to reform the capacity markets to accommodate multiple product types. This sounds to us like John Shelk and EPSA are up to the kind of tricks that would have eliminated DR from wholesale markets if not for a Supreme Court of the United States decision that we fought hard for that cemented its value in wholesale markets. We suspect that what is truly scary to the generator coalition is an efficient market structure: when DR resources are accepted, they displace higher cost and less efficient resources, and serve to reduce overall market price, significantly benefiting buyers (us Americans . . . the ones creating the demand for electricity) in the market. In fact, PJM themselves touts that DR and energy efficiency are estimated to reduce capacity expenditures by billions of dollars per year ($11.8 billion in 2013/2014 alone) . . . dollars that generators miss out on. 

While others may be content to diplomatically discuss the issue, Voltus is not. When unfair competition wins, ratepayers lose, while wealth transfers back to generators at significant cost to us Americans. What should be a happy coexistence of supply and demand continues to unfairly enrich the interests of traditional generation hoping to renege on the grand bargain of capacity markets: namely, generators got their cake (open energy markets) and ate it, too (capacity markets) . . . but the deal was that demand would be treated fairly and given access to wholesale markets on a comparable basis. 

PJM, stop catering to generators and get back to your stated mission of creating and operating "robust, competitive, and non-discriminatory electric power markets." Bring back seasonal demand response and compensate it fairly . . . the same way you bill for seasonal demand.

Dana Guernsey - Vice President of Market and Business Operations, Voltus, Inc.

Speaking Truth to Power

Gregg Dixon


"Can you give me an example of when you've 'spoken truth to power' either in your professional or personal life and what that experience was like?" That's the final question Matt and I ask any candidate wanting to be part of the Voltus team. If you’re asked that question, you’re an incredibly strong candidate. Answer it well and you receive an offer. Answer it poorly and - despite whatever other credentials you have - we are forced to pass.

Why is it so important to us? There are four reasons:

  1. We want to hire people who are more bright, more gritty, and more good than us. That's really hard to know unless they're the kind of person willing to tell the CEO and President what they're really thinking: about our good ideas, our half-baked ideas, or our bad ideas. And, boy, can we come up with some bad ideas! Those willing to speak truth to power are bright – they bring a solution and not just a problem – they are gritty – they have an inner drive to champion a better way – and they are good – they speak truth to power (understanding that we must all bring out each other’s best) especially to those with a responsibility to lead.
  2. The only way we get better as a team is by coaching each other constantly and bringing a better solution to the table every day. We built a company around a strong vision, a strong set of values, and a strong offer for customers. Yet, we know all of it is flawed, much like an artist might cringe at their painting despite countless hours toiling over the final brush strokes of its completion. At the risk of parodying ourselves a la this week’s episode of “Silicon Valley,” we embrace the concept of radical candor (challenging directly, caring personally) because it is consistent with our values of love and compassion. When you meet a person who is willing to put their own neck on the line to help you be better, that's a special someone.
  3. Our product, demand response, is a product that speaks truth to power. It is the demand side of a supply/demand market equation that has traditionally and heavily favored supply resources - large central power plants (e.g., nuclear, coal) that also have an outsized voice in energy markets and regulatory arenas. These forces run deep at regional transmission operator (RTO) forums, within state PUCs/PSCs, and at the federal level where incumbent resources are often propped up despite being obsolete. We are the folks who spearheaded and won the FERC 745 battle at the Supreme Court of the United States. The grit and determination, the willingness to speak truth to power, that it took to wage a battle with odds of winning being less than 1% (knowing it was the right battle to fight) is what we look for in a Voltan.
  4. Our prospective customers are generally of two types: never heard of demand response or they've been doing it for years. Those who have never heard of it require us to be vocal proponents of doing something differently that delivers cash to their bottom line. Those who have been doing it for years often think they're getting the most dollars from their participation. In both instances, we need our team to stick their toe in the door to evangelize why that customer should work with Voltus before that door is shut in their face. People who shy away from rejection or conflict don't last long in that environment. They're willing to challenge conventional thinking or experiences.

If you want to be a Voltan, you need to be really good at speaking truth to power. You need to be a vocal champion for ideas worth spreading. You need to stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves. You need to be the kind of person willing to punch a bully in the nose. You see your role in the world as an agent of positive change and you're ready to get into the arena and go to battle for it.

Please share your experiences speaking truth to power in the comments below or send us an email with your thoughts on the topic.

Gregg and Matt

New Year's Resolution - Double Your Dollars in Demand Response!

Gregg Dixon


Happy New Year! Now let’s get to work on our resolution: help you double your dollars in demand response in 2018 through these five steps: 

  1. "Stack" multiple demand response programs. If you're only in one program, you're missing out.
  2. Take advantage of "out-of-market" demand response. This alone can double the value you get from curtailing load.
  3. Get back your backup generator. The opportunity to use your generator in demand response programs has returned. 
  4. Negotiate the "gross up." If your current demand response provider hasn't told you about the gross-up, find a new demand response provider. This will increase your earnings 10% to 30% per year.
  5. Optimize your enrolled kW. DR works off of a simple formula: kW x $'s = earnings. Squeeze every kW you can by reevaluating your operational flexibility and enrollment levels. 

Are you resolved to double your dollars in demand response in 2018? Email us for a detailed review of your portfolio ( - not .com) and we'll show you all the options to guarantee you hit that New Year's resolution.

"Clark, that's the gift that keeps on giving the whole year . . . "

Gregg Dixon


It’s that time of the year! As my family cozied up in front of our favorite holiday movie, I was feeling like the FERC handwringing on grid resiliency was going to be a bit like Clark Griswold getting the Jello of the Month Club Membership for his annual Christmas bonus. I could relate to Clark’s Christmas gift backlash but with Rick Perry in mind . . . 

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear . . . but a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ruling on December 1 allowing Energy Efficiency Resources (EERs - think LED upgrades) to get wholesale capacity market credit without encumbrance from a RERRA! Ahhhh, yes, there’s nothing like a FERC ruling and a set of solid TLAs to get me in the holiday spirit!

Here’s the skinny on this gift that truly keeps giving the whole year through:

  • By Voltus estimates, there are about 2,000 MWs of EE projects that would qualify for up to four years of capacity market cash earnings that haven’t yet been monetized. This amounts to about $400 million in cash available to these commercial and industrial customers that goes right to their bottom line. 
  • FERC has jurisdiction to invoke behind-the-meter assets into wholesale energy markets - this includes demand response, onsite generation, energy storage, and energy efficiency. This is granted to FERC in the Federal Power Act, sometimes to the chagrin of states’ jurisdiction over retail energy. A lot of political and regulatory wrestling has resulted over the years on this.
  • For example, the 2016 US Supreme Court ruling on FERC Order 745 was partially supported on the notion that, for demand response resources being invoked into wholesale energy markets, states had an opt-out provision that allowed RERRAs (relevant electric retail regulatory authority -typically the state PUC/PSC but also including munis and coops) to bar DR from taking advantage of wholesale energy market programs. FERC “granted” states this provision . . . more to come on the notion of “granted” below.
  • The Advanced Energy Economy sought clarity on this landmark ruling to ensure that EERs (energy efficiency resources) could not be banned by a RERRA from capturing wholesale capacity market credits, under the notion that EERs are operationally different than DR resources. Good on you, AEE! FERC’s December 1 ruling provides clarity on this and makes explicit that EERs can’t be barred by a RERRA. This is big news because large commercial and industrial customers have spent billions of dollars on energy efficiency projects that have amounted to thousands of MWs of permanent load reduction, all of which can now be monetized if the energy efficiency measure a) is in a wholesale energy market where FERC has jurisdiction and b) the measure hasn’t already been claimed by a utility and/or hasn’t already been monetized where a RERRA does not bar it from being monetized.
  • What’s more, the FERC just opened a big door for DR. If FERC really wanted to make wholesale markets “just and reasonable” it would revoke its “grant” to RERRAs that allow them the right to opt-out of allowing demand response to come to market unencumbered. That would truly level the wholesale energy market playing field once and for all while unlocking the full value that DR can offer to market participants, unleashing billions more per year in bottom line benefits to all energy consumers . . . residential, commercial, and industrial alike.

I have a dream of Rick Perry doing his best impression of Frank Shirley . . . come on, Rick, nobody wants coal in their stocking, not even the biggest buyer of coal!

This development is what Voltus is all about . . . less energy, more cash. If you want to take full advantage of this immediate opportunity, reach out and let us know!

Hap, hap, happy holidays!!!

Pennsylvania Act 129 "Add Back Ask"

Gregg Dixon


Friends of Demand Response,

If you are participating in Pennsylvania's Act 129 Demand Response program (available to Duquesne, Met-Ed, PECO, Penelec, Penn Power, PPL, and West Penn Power customers), you may be asked by your Curtailment Service Provider (CSP) to sign what is known as an "Add Back Attestation" document. Signing this document would NOT be in your best economic interest and we want to explain why.

Background: The Act 129 program that you participated in this past summer offered a great benefit to the grid – in fact, these utilities utilized this program precisely to help alleviate peak grid demand during hot summer days. It’s not surprising, then, that these dispatches happened to coincide with the PJM grid operator’s “Peak Load Contribution” (PLC) hours. A given hour becomes a PLC hour when it was one of the five highest peaks the PJM grid reached from June 1 – September 30. Your contribution to PJM’s peak (which is called your PLC) is measured by your average electric demand during these hours. Your PLC costs typically represent about 30% of your annual energy costs. 

The “Add- Back Ask": By submitting the attestation form you would be electing to have the load reduction you demonstrated during Act 129 events added back (or “reconstituted”) to your individual facility’s PLC calculation, unnecessarily increasing your annual capacity-related costs. Reconstituting your PLC benefits the CSP serving you in the PJM demand response program. This is because your participation is capped by your PLC value – if you have a lower PLC you have lower potential to earn through in-market demand response with PJM. CSPs like this option because they get a share of your program earnings, whereas they would not be able to reap the benefits of your reduced PLC – 100% of that benefit goes to your business’s bottom line. In fact, the only scenario we can think of where a customer might financially benefit from the add-back is if that customer is on a flat electricity supply rate that includes all capacity costs. If this is you come talk to us – we recommend that you switch to a rate that does expose you to demand charges and then work to reduce those charges through Act 129 and other peak reduction methods.

In short, we advise that you do NOT sign this document – for every MW of Act 129 participation you’d be foregoing approximately $100,000 in future savings. Instead, enjoy the additional savings that your Act 129 program participation has brought you– there’s no need to share it with anyone (including us!) You’ve earned it through your efforts this past summer – for which we thank you. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me directly.


Gregg Dixon - Chief Executive Officer

Voltus, Inc. | 542B Presidio Boulevard | San Francisco, CA 94129 | gregg_dixon@twitter | voltusinc@twitter

Wanted: Women in Cleantech

Gregg Dixon

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Recently I was in a meeting with four other women and it was embarrassingly notable. I've long ago stopped noticing when I am in a meeting with four men, so why should four women catch my attention? The answer of course is that this was a rare occurrence.  Ask any woman in cleantech and she'll tell you she's more often than not the only female in the room. I will admit that in the past I used do things like wear my glasses, put my hair back, wear a button-up shirt - essentially I was trying to blend in, so I wouldn't be perceived or judged in any way beyond my professional contributions. These were physical adjustments, rather than what I believe are more appropriate behavioral ones. Women should speak up more, say sorry less, demand what they want, and stop caveating. We need to fight the gender gap in cleantech, and encourage more women to enter, stay in, and become leaders in this amazing field. 

Ironically, the clean energy industry is one of the best opportunities to have a positive influence in the world. It impacts everyone, and getting it right makes our planet better. It is exciting, fun, and has a positive social impact . . . something that women rank very highly when considering their careers. Sadly, many still believe inherent biological reasons exist that make men better suited for STEM careers than women. Absurd . . . yes, but the argument boils down to this: if 30 applicants apply for a position and only 4 of them are female, odds are that the best candidate for the job is male . . . and doesn't every company just want to hire the best? What this is missing, however, is that the industry has a pipeline problem. The problem isn't that a company might select one of the 26 males as the best candidate for the position - the problem is that the company didn't do more up front on the issue that only 13% of their candidates in the pipeline were women to begin with. 

At Voltus, we know we need to proactively recruit female candidates . . . the male candidates come to us easily. This is because, not surprisingly, our professional networks represent the existing industry bias - sitting at just 23% female, so we need to actively manage against this in order to avoid perpetuating the problem.  We have done dramatically more direct outreach to female candidates, recruited directly through university networks (which have closer to even ratios), and posted and networked within female-based industry groups. We've done a decent job of improving the number of female candidates we attract, but we need to do much, much better.  

We seek creative new ways to build out our pipeline of female candidates . . . this post itself is written to raise this issue and attract female candidates. Please share your stories, feedback, and advice with us, send this around to your female friends and colleagues, and come talk to us! 

Dana Guernsey - Vice President of Market and Business Operations, Voltus, Inc.

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Got CashGen?

Gregg Dixon


Did you once use your onsite generator to earn revenue through demand response? If the answer is yes, you'll want to join this webinar.

  • As you likely know, in 2016 a US district court vacated language in EPA regulations that allowed onsite generation at commercial and industrial sites to participate in demand response programs under "emergency" operating conditions. It also had implications in Canada.
  • The elimination of this language effectively removed 3,000 MWs of demand response from markets throughout the US and Canada.
  • In this webinar, the leading demand response and generator experts will show you just how simple it can be to restart the cash flow from your generator at no cost and no risk in a simple, single-page DR agreement.

Please join us by choosing one of the scheduled webinars below and we'll send you a special link with details. 

Name *
Choose Webinar Preference *

When $10 Million Shows Up in Your Bank Account . . .

Gregg Dixon


Today, Voltus got a little pocket money (PR Newswire). It's creating quite a bit of buzz in the industry (Greentech Media) and we're grateful for the attention it's getting.

The back story is pretty simple: a few of us put our nose to the grindstone for a year, built a great technology, signed up a bunch of customers, generated profits, and attracted the interest of investors who really liked the focused business model we developed to attack a huge, underpenetrated market where the competition wasn't innovating or fully serving customers.

But what's the secret to our success and how do we plan to extend this success with $10 million in the bank? First, our success to date is simply a matter of attracting bright, gritty, and good people who are passionate about solving energy challenges. Second, our vision is simple: deliver more demand response dollars to the bottom line for our customers than anyone in the industry . . . less energy, more cash. Put the people and the vision together and get out of the way!

This simple model has us doing three things: we build product, we sell product, and we deliver cash to customers. This aligns with how we differentiate: we have a best-in-class technology platform that unlocks every possible revenue stream for our customers, we have a transparent, no-cost, no-risk, single page commercial agreement that makes it easy for our customers to do business with us, and we are world leaders in understanding energy markets and demand response which allows us to more than double the value customers get from what they've been doing in the past.

So, for our part, Matt and I sell. We evangelize. That's us at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield, Illinois last week in the midst of a Monday morning through Friday evening road trip. We crossed paths in Springfield, signed our funding documents, snapped a pic with the front desk attendant, and went our separate ways, Matt to Peoria, I to Champaign-Urbana. We'll sign up a dozen or so new customers from that trip.

We're pretty sure that our competition's CEO and President don't do this. We're pretty sure they don't commit to delivering 100 MW individual sales quotas each year. Because selling is hard, yet it's the single most valuable thing a company does in a growing market. And Matt and I love to do it . . . we love to meet our customers . . . at their steel plants, their wastewater treatment plants, their grocery stores, their data centers . . . we love to see the pride they take in their work . . . we love to forge new friendships . . . we love to learn about their unique challenges . . . we love to tell the Voltus story . . . and we love to pay our customers to use our product to help them make their businesses stronger.

Our team has a clear plan on how to turn that $10 million into $100 million in short order by delivering exceptional value to customers. You can be sure that Matt and I will be on the road doing our part to help our team get the cash to the customers.

Giddy up!

Use of Demand Response Reduces Energy Costs, Creates Jobs in Illinois

Gregg Dixon

SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, September 13, 2017 - Voltus, Inc., a leading provider of cash-generating energy products, announced today that it has been selected as one of only two winning suppliers of the Illinois Power Agency's Midcontinent Independent System Operator Zone 4 capacity procurement. Voltus’s commercial, institutional, and industrial demand response network now totals nearly 600 MWs in the MISO portion of Illinois and has helped the average C&I customer’s energy costs decrease by nearly $50,000 annually. The targeted 826 MWs of capacity procured in this process was for planning years 2018/2019 and the award to Voltus is the first time a demand response provider has won a contract in the Illinois Power Agency procurement process, which began in 2007. Additional details on the RFP results are found at:

"Our C&I-focused demand response network in Illinois has delivered tremendous savings to customers, significantly reducing capacity prices that amount to 30% of a customer's annual energy bill," said Gregg Dixon, CEO of Voltus. “What we find most interesting is that the recent IPA procurement secured capacity at 10% of the cost of the well-known subsidies to two uneconomic nuclear plants that formed the basis for Illinois SB2814. In other words, the state didn’t need those subsidies in order to provide safe, reliable, affordable, and clean energy to its citizens."

As a percentage of state electricity demand, and with the help of Voltus, Illinois now leads the nation in demand response MWs enabled to meet state-wide electricity supply needs while delivering among the nation's best power reliability and lowest capacity rates. As this resource grows rapidly in Illinois rate payers enjoy a 250% return on the dollars invested in demand response versus a traditional mix of supply, as evidenced by an Advanced Energy Economy report found at:

"Illinois legislators got it half right," said Matthew Plante, Voltus President. "While the subsidies offered to the nuclear industry through SB2814 were expensive and unnecessary, Illinois deserves credit for fully incorporating demand response into its resource mix. With all the talk about job creation, it’s amazing that a change as simple as encouraging more demand response can result in real job creation and a spark for Illinois economic growth. Voltus is excited about stimulating these kinds of direct benefits from our innovations in demand response and energy management."

To learn more about Voltus, visit or email

About Voltus, Inc.

Voltus represents the "potential of us" to better manage energy through simple, cost-free energy management products. Our commercial and industrial customers generate cash by allowing us to be their energy expert while we deliver innovative demand response, energy purchasing, and energy efficiency programs to them. It's this simple: a customer signs up with Voltus and every quarter we deliver dollars. Voltus makes money when our customers make money by sharing the cash generated from working together. What's more, there are significant community benefits that accompany working with Voltus - a cleaner, more reliable energy future and dollars invested back into your business and jobs instead of being wasted on a larger energy bill.

Voltus Media Relations:  Gregg Dixon - 617-283-9387 -

DR is Dead

Gregg Dixon

DR, as you've known it, is dead. Join us to learn two truths and a lie: 

  1. Truth: Customers are fleeing flagship demand response programs in PJM, New England, and New York as program risks and demands on customers increase  
  2. Truth: "Out-of-market" demand response is replacing traditional demand response: it provides less risk and a better financial proposition to customers
  3. Lie: Learn how your demand response provider has been underpaying you, keeping for itself some of the money earned by customers

We expect more than 3,000 commercial and industrial customers to join us for these webinars. Please join us by choosing one of the four scheduled webinars detailed below and we'll send you a special link with details. 

Name *
Choose Webinar Preference *

Former FERC Chairman and Battery Storage CEO Join Voltus Strategic Advisory Board

Gregg Dixon

SAN FRANCISCO and BOSTON, June 1, 2017 - Voltus, Inc., a leading provider of cash-generating energy products, announced today that Jon Wellinghoff and Phil Giudice have joined its Strategic Advisory Board.

"Jon and Phil are legends in the energy industry with a combined 80 years of leadership experience that will help effect Voltus's market direction, regulatory influence, product roadmap, and growth initiatives. Be it global, federal, state, public, or private, they’ve left their imprimatur on some of the most positive, landmark changes in the energy industry," said Gregg Dixon, Voltus CEO. "We are thrilled that they've agreed to join forces with our team to reinvigorate the demand response industry and continue leveling the playing field for distributed energy resources of all types."

Mr. Wellinghoff is an internationally-heralded champion of distributed energy resources and renewable energy and a Principal at Policy/DER. Most recently, Jon was the Chief Policy Officer for SolarCity. Jon was first appointed as a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by President George W. Bush in 2006. He was named Chairman of FERC by President Barack Obama in 2009 and is perhaps best known for his authorship and implementation of FERC Order 745. FERC Order 745 catalyzed demand response as the "killer app" of the smart grid and was the subject of a Supreme Court of the United States battle that ultimately cemented demand response under the jurisdiction of FERC in wholesale energy markets. During his tenure at FERC, Jon also championed opening wholesale electric markets to renewable resources and various forms of distributed resources including energy efficiency, local energy storage systems, and plug-in electric vehicles.

Jon earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Nevada, his masters in mathematics teaching from Howard University, and his law degree from Antioch University.

Mr. Giudice has more than 40 years of leadership experience across a broad spectrum of the energy industry, and is currently the CEO of Ambri, an energy storage company started at MIT, where it invented liquid metal batteries. Previously, Phil served the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as Undersecretary of Energy and as Commissioner of the Department of Energy Resources, the state agency with primary responsibility for fulfilling Governor Deval Patrick's vision for a clean energy future. Phil served as the National Association of State Energy Officers (NASEO) board chair as well as on the US Department of Energy’s State Energy Advisory Board, Energy Efficiency and Renewables Advisory Committee, and State Energy Efficiency Action Network.

Prior to his service in the Patrick-Murray Administration, Phil was Senior Vice President and board member at EnerNOC. He was previously a senior partner and leader of Mercer Management Consulting's global energy utilities practice for 20 years. Phil is a geologist (B.S. from University of New Hampshire and M.S. in Economic Geology from the University of Arizona) and a management professional (M.B.A. from Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth).

"As we choose candidates for our strategic advisory board, we look for folks who combine tremendous experience and results with the kindred spirit of the Voltus culture: bright, gritty, and good. Jon and Phil exemplify the kinds of leaders we seek counsel from . . . folks who think big, expect a lot from themselves and their teammates, and put potential into action. We're excited to drive results from the guidance they provide."

To learn more about Voltus, visit or email

About Voltus, Inc.

Voltus represents the "potential of us" to better manage energy through simple, cost-free energy management products. Our commercial and industrial customers generate cash by allowing us to be their energy expert while we deliver innovative demand response, energy purchasing, and energy efficiency programs to them. It's this simple: a customer signs up with Voltus and every quarter we deliver dollars. Voltus makes money when our customers make money by sharing the cash generated from working together. What's more, there are significant community benefits that accompany working with Voltus - a cleaner, more reliable energy future and dollars invested back into your business and jobs instead of being wasted on a larger energy bill.

Voltus Reinvigorates Customer Appetite for Demand Response, Secures Nearly 400 New MWs of DR

Gregg Dixon

SAN FRANCISCO and BOSTON, April 28, 2017 - Voltus, Inc., a leading provider of cash-generating energy products, announced its first results from its July 2016 business launch today, highlighted by bringing nearly 400 MWs of new commercial and industrial demand response to markets throughout the US and Canada.

"We kept hearing over and over from our customers, 'Savings, not software!' We founded Voltus because customers have big enough challenges managing their core mission, which typically doesn't include investing in software, staffing, and fee-for-services to 'treasure hunt' for energy savings. Our focus on cash savings delivered at no cost and no risk on a single page agreement has reinvigorated customer interest in demand response," said Gregg Dixon, Voltus CEO.

Summary Results and Highlights from July 2016 through March 2017

Market and Customers

  • Sold 400 MWs of new demand response contracts across all major North American energy markets, including ISO-NE, OPA, NYISO, PJM, MISO, ERCOT, AESO, and CAISO.
  • Secured a multi-year, bilateral utility agreement with Enerlogics and Duquesne Light for 46 MWs as part of the Pennsylvania Act 129 program.
  • Became first Aggregator of Retail Customers (ARC) to bring MWs into the MISO planning reserve auction (PRA), clearing more than 300 MWs of zonal resource credits (ZRCs), and opening a new, 10,000 MW+ market for third party aggregators.
  • Established multi-year utility and supplier relationships in MISO outside of the PRA to sell ZRCs bilaterally, protecting customer demand response value.
  • Initiated new agreements with more than 60 national accounts, across 15 states.
  • Enabled nearly 600 sites to participate in demand response, from 6 kW quick serve retail customers to 20 MW steel foundries.

Technology Platform

  • Developed and commercialized the Voltlet™ hardware platform to support capacity, energy, and ancillary services demand response with a bill of materials of less than $100 per unit, including end-to-end encryption of telemetry data over a secured cellular VPN.
  • Launched its native, cloud-based energy management platform, VoltApp™, to support demand response, energy procurement, and energy efficiency for commercial and industrial customers.
  • Introduced VoltMarket™, a distributed energy resources (DER) platform used to monetize DER assets in any energy market in capacity, energy, and ancillary services, targeting energy storage, distributed generation, demand response, and virtual energy trading.
  • Achieved OpenADR compliance and finalized interoperability with a number of technology and marketing partners.


  • Secured an estimated, total contracted revenue and gross margin backlog of $20 million and $8 million, respectively.
  • Self-funded early results and now actively seeking strategic financial partners to support aggressive growth opportunities to scale the business.

"We threw down the gauntlet. This remains an enormous market opportunity with tremendous growth potential. But customers are struggling to get as much value as they deserve. The simple, transparent value we offer our customers is being received well. We offer 'less energy, more cash,' delivered by leading energy experts, which allows our customer to focus on their core business," said Matt Plante, Voltus President.

To learn more about Voltus, visit or email

About Voltus, Inc.

Voltus represents the "potential of us" to better manage energy through simple, cost-free energy management products. Our commercial and industrial customers generate cash by allowing us to be their energy expert while we deliver innovative demand response, energy purchasing, and energy efficiency programs to them. It's this simple: a customer signs up with Voltus and every quarter we deliver dollars. Voltus makes money when our customers make money by sharing the cash generated from working together. What's more, there are significant community benefits that accompany working with Voltus - a cleaner, more reliable energy future and dollars invested back into your business and jobs instead of being wasted on a larger energy bill.

Voltus Media Relations:

Gregg Dixon

The Search for "Good"

Gregg Dixon

Credit: Boston Red Sox, Facebook

Credit: Boston Red Sox, Facebook

(Hint: It's Easy to Find Bright and Gritty)

We’re off and running (or, in our case, saving our customers money) at Voltus, having just been awarded an opportunity to provide 50 MWs of demand response in connection with Pennsylvania Act 129. As such, we’re hiring. Hiring is the ultimate on-the-job training; you can’t learn how to hire in school. Gregg and I have directly hired hundreds of people over the last decade. Most succeeded. Many started their own company. Many more became CEOs, Chief Commercial Officers, VPs of Sales or Engineering, CMO's, and product leaders at other successful companies. Of course, we made plenty of mistakes along the way, too, which has helped us refine our criteria for picking teammates. This post will explain who we look to hire, and why, with an emphasis on the element most difficult to spot: good. We know that if we follow our formula of hiring well, and provide a winning vision to the team, Voltus is guaranteed to be successful.

In short, we hire people who are bright, gritty, and good. We hire bright because energy markets are complicated and because you just can't train for raw intelligence. We hire gritty because there’s no substitute for hard work, for passionate perseverance, for self-initiative, for commitment, for a need to finish the job. We hire good because we want to be surrounded by human beings who make us better people. Bright + gritty, without good, is a bad combination (think Enron, for example) and, what's more, our culture loves to celebrate winning. Nobody likes celebrating with a jerk.

But what exactly is “good”? We provide the Voltus definition below. In addition, and importantly, we recognize that “good” people sometimes work for bad companies. We feel a deep responsibility to ensure that our “good” people at Voltus are supported, challenged, respected, and rewarded. We’ll explain how we’re doing our best to ensure that Voltus personifies good.

Defining Good

Future Hall of Famer Theo Epstein brought a World Series to Boston (after an 86 year drought) and may just do the same in Chicago (the Cubs’ drought extends back to 1908). Theo believes in “scouting the person more than the player.” We agree. Bright and gritty give us the player; good gives us the person. Think Big Papi vs. Manny.

Now, bright and gritty are objective. They’re easy to measure. They reveal themselves on resumes, they show up in interviews. But good? Good is subjective. My “good” can be different than your “good.” Said another way, if you’re not good, you’re not necessarily bad. You’re just not right for Voltus.

Compassionate, honest, respectful, customer-centric, fun, mission-driven, humble, followers of the Golden Rule, don’t-take-yourself-too-serious, team players. Those are all must-haves in our good, and they’re likely to be uncontroversial. Our good also includes direct, opinionated, evangelical, impatient, intense, loving people. That’s one special person. Which is exactly why it’s so important that we live up to the standard we seek in others.

Personifying Good

As leaders, we aim to help our teammates to be productive, to be happy, and to grow continually. That’s our charge to the Voltus team. To make that a reality, we commit to the following:

  • We make our values, strategy, and progress toward our goals crystal clear to everyone on the team - no hidden agendas
  • We ground everything in a business case, especially hiring. We will not over hire. Growth unsupported by long-term business prospects results in painful layoffs
  • We are inclusive and give every teammate an opportunity to bring solutions to the table every day - if you have a better way of doing things, bring it!
  • We prioritize the long-term, recognizing that this is sometimes easier said than done
  • We trust, since “trust leads to happy days,” per the Dalai Lama
  • We believe that people should live and work in a place they love. In other words, work from home with your dog by your side if you like
  • We encourage personal and professional development. A small, but symbolic, reward is that every teammate has an unlimited budget for reading material so long as it makes them a better person
  • We don't ask our employees to sign non-competes. If you want to leave Voltus, we’re failing you, and you should leave
  • We allow unlimited paid time off. Go away for the month of August with your family to Hungary. But figure out how we're going to hit goals - those won't change
  • We encourage out-of-the-office passions and we highlight teammate achievements
  • We do what we say we’re going to do

I love the team we’ve built and we're just getting warmed up. Our product is in demand, and we’re hiring. Come create some good with us.