Rob Dodson - Home

Joining Voltus to work on climate!

— 4 minute read

When I left Google back in October of 2021, I did so because I wanted to find a job working on climate change. After a lot of reasearch and interviewing (which I wrote about at the time) I finally found a role that felt perfect for me. So a couple weeks back, I joined the team at Voltus, with a mission to make the grid smarter and more resilient.

What does Voltus do?

Voltus offers a number of programs to its customers, but it's primarily known for its demand response programs. Demand response is a clever grid balancing technique that's especially important as we transition to renewable energy.

You can think of it like this: When there is more demand (i.e. people using power) than there is supply (power being generated) then a grid operator has two choices—either generate more supply, or reduce demand.

Generating more supply means firing up a power plant and producing green house gases. Reducing demand means convincing (or incentivizing) customers to use less power. This is where Voltus comes in.

When a grid operator needs a reduction in demand they send a signal to Voltus, and Voltus pays major power users (factories, big box stores, etc.) to curtail their consumption. Voltus gets paid by the grid operator for this reduction in demand, and Voltus passes a percentage of that payment on to their customers.

You may have heard the term "virtual power plant" before (I wrote about it recently). That's essentially what Voltus does. They manage around 2 Gigawatts (GW) of power—enough to run ~328,000 homes—and have paid out more than $31M to their customers.

How does Voltus fight climate change?

If Voltus did not exist, when a grid operator needed more power they would be forced to fire up a fast acting fossil fuel plant. Voltus provides a cleaner (literally zero CO2) alternative.

But what's more important is how Voltus enables renewable energy. A grid designed around wind and solar is highly volatile—every cloud or reduction in wind speed causes the supply to drop. If we want to move away from fossil fuel reserves, then we need grid balancing technologies like Voltus.

What about batteries? you might ask.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), at the end of 2021, the United States only had 4.5GW of energy storage, but it's estimated that the U.S. will need 930GW by 2050. So, yes, batteries are great, but there's just not enough of them right now and they take time to install. The beauty of a virtual power plant is that there's no construction required!

But really these things are not mutually exclusive. A greener grid will require a combination of renewable generation, long and short term battery storage, and demand response.

We're hiring

One of the things that attracted me to Voltus was the incredibly strong work culture. Everyone I spoke to during my interview process seemed to really care about the company's mision, and the leadership team has put a lot of thought and effort into creating a supportive, inclusive environment. I feel like this video from my manager Jamie does a good job of conveying the vibe 😁

Voltus is entirely remote, and currently hiring across a number of positions. If you're interested in joining the team, take a look at our careers page or feel free to reach out to me on Twitter and I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have.

All in all, I feel really fortunate to have found this team, and I hope if you're reading this that you might be considering a role in climate as well. It's a big challenge, and we need all the help we can get, but I'm hopeful and optimistic that we'll get there 🌎

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