FREEING ENERGY

Podcast 064: Jorge Elizondo – How computer science is radically simplifying the design and operation of microgrids.

In this episode, host Bill Nussey catches up with Heila Technology Co-Founder and CTO, Jorge Elizondo. Learn how Helia’s breakthrough technology is changing the way complex local energy systems are managed and operated, making each component smarter while making the whole system far more efficient and resilient.

Here are a few of the insights from Jorge…

“Having more resources that need to coordinate is not just twice as hard as having two, it’s much more complicated. It grows exponentially. We didn’t want to do this in Heila, because we want something that can scale. We are trying to rethink the grid, right?”


“Instead of having one central location where you control and coordinate everything, you add intelligence to that resources, and then let the resources interact and self coordinate.”  


“… if we solve the energy problem and the carbon problem, there’s actually no limit for what humanity can do. If you think about the other problems that we have, say for example water or waste or food, they’re all solvable if we have very cheap carbon free energy.”


You can also listen to this podcast and others in our series on these platforms:

Bill Nussey and Dr. Jemma Green during the recording of the podcast

Useful Links

Helia Technologies

Stone Edge Farm and Vineyard Microgrid

Interstital Background

Article on DOE Microgrid Tracker Database

DOE Microgrid Database

Background on Microgrids

Microgrid Market Projections

Transcript

Bill Nussey: Hello. Hello. Hello, and welcome to everybody in the freeing energy world. I am Bill Nussey the founder of the Free Energy Project and I’m going to be your host for today’s podcast. Our guest today is Jorge Elizondo, the co-founder and CTO of Boston-based Heila Technologies. I’ve been really excited about this story for a long time and I’ve followed this company closely. It’s one of the coolest technology companies in local energy and I’m delighted that Jorge has agreed to share it with us personally today. And everything they do sits right at the heart of local energy and his company is tackling and solving some of the biggest challenge that clean local energy systems face today.

So how do we take all these different ways of generating power and integrate it with storage and how do we design flexible systems that can grow over time? Well, a lot of people will throw up their hands, but Jorge and his colleagues at Heila will tell you that it’s just another Monday. They’ve got a solution to this and they’re deploying it around the world. It works. It’s amazing. And I’m really excited that Jorge is here to tell you about it.

So Jorge, welcome to the Freeing Energy Podcast today.

Jorge Elizondo: Bill, thank you for having me.

Bill Nussey: So we’re going to spend a good bit of time today talking about your company, but I love to start off with a little bit about you personally. What makes you tick? You have a really interesting background. So for folks that haven’t heard of you or your company, you grew up in Mexico, you earned an undergraduate degree in engineering and physics from the prestigious Technical Institute in Monterey. And then you came to the U.S. and did your PhD in electrical engineering at MIT, which is really impressive. So how did you end up getting in the field of electrical engineering and what was that journey like?

Jorge Elizondo: Yeah, as you said, I grew up in Mexico. I did my undergrad in physics, so I was more gearing towards being a scientist. Actually one of the four years of my undergrad was actually in University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. So my junior year was in the U.S. So I did three years in Mexico, one years in the U.S. And I was doing research in material science and those kinds of things. And then by the end of my undergrad, I decided that I wanted to work on something with more immediate impact, not that material science doesn’t have, but something that it was more physical, more mechanical, and that I could change. And I decided to jump into electrical engineering. I did my master’s in Mexico after my undergrad to get some of the background in electrical engineering. And then I started a small wind turbine company in Mexico.

So we designed small wind turbines and installed them in many places around Mexico. We only installed in Mexico back then. And then 2010, when we discovered that solar panels were just getting so cheap that small wind turbines were a hard sell, I decided to apply to a graduate degree. I got into MIT, moved to the U.S. in 2011 and did my grad studies, my PhD studies. What I noticed in 2010 when I was applying is that, a lot of these technologies were getting very cheap, very inexpensive, right? The challenge wasn’t hard to put everything together. So my PhD, I decided to focus on how do we integrate everything together in a new grid, right? If you could build the grid again, how would you build it? That goes into the smart grid, into microwaves and a lot of topics that I’m sure we will cover in this conversation, but that’s the story of my education. Then when I finished my graduate studies, I started and co-founded Heila Technologies.

Bill Nussey: So Heila was actually an idea that you had been working on a little bit before you graduated. Is that right? And you had done an internship. Can you talk a bit about that?

Jorge Elizondo: Correct. Correct. So yeah. When I said that I started Heila afterwards, that’s officially, right. When I jumped to work on it, right. The idea actually started in an internship. When I finished the fourth year of my PhD and the summer was starting. I was invited to be an intern in this microgrid in California. I remember receiving an email saying who wants to participate in this very interesting, exotic [inaudible 00:05:14] that integrated a lot of recent technologies and they want to be independent from the grid. So I replied. They invited me to be an intern. That was 2015 and I joined for a month and a half. And that’s when I discovered that microbes were just very challenging. There were a lot of different technologies that you have to integrate. And [inaudible 00:05:36] the challenges that we were starting academia, there were a lot of practical challenges and there was not a really good gap between the two worlds. So Heila, I started that. With those challenges we saw in the field and academic knowledge.

Bill Nussey: When you’re studying these distributed systems in academia, you said that there were gaps in the problems they thought they were going after, versus the problems you saw that people were facing in the real world implementations. What was the difference in those challenges? How does the world look differently?

Jorge Elizondo: Yeah, I think both are important. I’m not saying one is more important than the other, but when you’re still in academia, you go more into a stability analysis and you go into the power electronics, a lot of the power electronics involved, that lack of inertia. And those are all very important. But when you go into the field, you start having interoperability problems for example, where you have to communicate with all these resources, you can start having latencies that you can add into the models in academia, but sometimes it’s not done or it’s hard to know how to integrate those. So, there’s differences. I mean, there’s some people working on reconcile those, and we want it to be actually a bridge between the two. And that was one of the missions of the company, bringing these great innovations that academia is doing into the field.

Bill Nussey: Well and bring it into the field you did. When I started my journey into local energy, I ask around a lot of experts and said, “What’s the most advanced, coolest, frankly, micro grid in the United States?” And everybody universally said stone edge, which is where you guys really cut your teeth on this technology and where you did the internship. And so it was a couple of years ago that I had the opportunity to get a tour. Unfortunately, you weren’t there that day, a big thanks to Ryan for the tour, but I got to tell you that was one of the coolest things I’d ever seen.

We’ll talk about it a lot today. For people that aren’t hardcore electrical engineering PhD, really we’re going to try to keep it at a level that everyone appreciates it. But this is, just say that if you think balancing a bunch of spinning plates is hard, then you get a slight appreciation for what a Jorge and the Heila folks have done for electricity and for the small scale systems. And it’s absolutely essential. So let’s shift gears and to Heila. So let’s start at the basics. What does Heila do and why is it hard and why is it important?

Jorge Elizondo: So when we started Heila, well, we noticed Bill was that, microwaves are complicated. There’s a lot of different resources that you need to coordinate. And when you think of the larger grid, that’s also the case, right? You have a lot of people, for example, storage solar panels in their houses or batteries in their houses. So there’s a lot of different equipment out there and someone has to coordinate it if we are going to make it work altogether.

Bill Nussey: Why is it harder to have a lot of houses? If I have a million houses with solar panels on them, why is that any harder than having a giant solar farm off in the desert?

Jorge Elizondo: Well, you need to be able to all react together to achieve common goals, right? And the common goals, because we are still connected, right? If you separate from the main grid, then you have a microgrid and in that case, you have to coordinate the microgrid only, right. But [inaudible 00:09:05] a bit complicated. And the complication arises from three main problems. One is the non-standardized ecosystem. So we have a lot of different vendors out there, different technologies. Some people use certain types of inverters, micro-inverters or central inverters for solar. There’s a lot of different types of batteries. You can have a lithium batteries and people have led acid. So people have flow batteries. There’s a lot of different technologies and you can interconnect them in DC interconnection, on AC. So there’s so many different… The ecosystem is so varied that it makes it complicated. And then you talk about protocols and talk about all these problems. So not on the same ecosystem make this hard.

The second one is that these systems are complex, right? You have to deal with sub-second transients to be able to connect or disconnect from the grid or to share power. If you have multiple grid forming resources. To seasonal variations in solar generation, where you have to plan ahead, if you need fuel or not. So you’re dealing with a lot of different time constants, and that’s just, it’s complex, right? There’s complexity involved.

And the third one is that these systems are not rigid. They evolve over time. Consumption changes. You have maybe technology that gets out of… There’s better technology out there that you want to add. There’s cases where some equipment has to go down for maintenance or do you want to replace it? There’s all these changes in the system. So you have to plan for that. And the bigger the system that you’re [inaudible 00:10:44], the more complicated.

The typical approach Bill, to actually manage the system like that is, using a top-down approach. Meaning you put-

Bill Nussey: A top-down approach.

Jorge Elizondo: Yeah. You put some controller somewhere, usually a server, and then you have a lot of engineers program it. You connect to all the resources, collect data from all of them. And then you run a certain algorithms in that server and send commands. If you do the math, that problem scales exponentially, as you add more resources. So having four resources that need to coordinate is not just twice as hard as having two. It’s much more complicated. It grows exponentially.

That’s what we didn’t want to do in Heila, because we wanted to have something that can scale, we’re trying to rethink the grid, right? So if you rethink the grid, what would you do? How do you make these systems simpler? And when we decided is to put intelligence in the resources themselves, right? So, if you have different batteries and different solar or whatever resource you have out there, you add the intelligence to them. Instead of having one central location where you control and coordinate everything, you add intelligence to that resources, and then let the resources interact and self coordinate.

An analogy that I use for this is it’s a community, right? Of course you have certain rules that everybody has to obey. In this system, there’s also rules. For example, they have voltage limits, right. And frequency limits that you have to make sure you follow, but you want the individuals to be intelligent enough so they can coordinate with others to achieve common goals, right? So that’s the goal towards we’re going.

Bill Nussey: So this is fascinating. So where Heila’s really going to make a difference is if I’ve got a microgrid and I’ve got multiple solar arrays, I’ve got multiple kinds of batteries. I might have a hydrogen system as stone edge does and coordinating all those things together is actually, in my own limited understanding, is so much more difficult than it sounds. We’ve all as consumers been lulled into the simplicity of electricity because we just plug something into the wall. So when I first got into this industry, I thought, well, you just plug the battery in and it just works. Right? But it doesn’t. And it’s not just one plug, as you said, you’ve got AC and DC and you’ve got a 483 phase. You’ve got all kinds of complicated stuff that people with PhDs understand that all has to work together. And unlike unsay a computer network or some other system where you’re connecting parts, you get this stuff wrong and you destroy equipment or worse, you create a fire and a dangerous situation.

So this is the cost and the consequences of getting this right are much higher. And you guys have brought a new architecture to it that frankly, I think is game changing. And as I think about the future, it’s hard to envision anything where people are building complex microgrids in any other way than using a design that you’re commercializing now, hopefully using your product. But I think that you guys are the future.

Speaker 1: What are microgrids and why are they so important to the future of local energy? Microgrids are smaller scale, localized electrical grids. They are the quintessential examples of local energy. Because they are able to operate while the main grid is down, microgrids can strengthen grid resilience and help mitigate grid disturbances as well as function as grid resources for faster system response and recovery. The value of microgrids has become increasingly important in recent years, particularly in locations subjected weather extremes hurricanes, wildfires and ice storms. Communities, commercial and industrial users are turning to micro grid solutions to provide seamless, reliable electricity, to support their own electrical needs, while also supporting the broader grid with resources when needed.

Today, micro grids provide less than two tenths of a percent of us electricity, but their capacity is expected to more than double in the next three years. An investment in microgrids and microgrid controllers is on the rise. One research firm Guidehouse Insights predicts that the total annual microgrid controls spending starts at about 551 million in 2020, and increases to almost 2.8 billion annually by 2029. And that’s an impressive compound annual growth rate of almost 20%. You can see why solutions the one from Heila Technologies are attracting so much interest.

Want to keep track of the growth of microgrids in the U.S? The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced the release of a new interactive tool tracking microgrids installed throughout the United States and it’s updated monthly. Currently, the microgrid installation database includes a comprehensive listing of the U.S. operational microgrids that provide a total of 3.1 gigawatts of a reliable electricity. For a link to the DOE microgrid installation database, check out the show notes for this episode of the Freeing Energy Podcast @freeingenergy.com. Now let’s get back to Bill and Jorge to hear even more about this amazing technology and the impact it’s having.

Bill Nussey: So let’s talk a little, but a lot of our folks come from the software world and at the heart of your system is software. It’s a lot of software in your system. And one of your original goals was to have some open source dimensions to it. What made you think that was important? And how has that played out

Jorge Elizondo: When you think about the systems that we’re building Bill, as I mentioned, there’s several components of what makes it complicated. And one of them is certainly interoperability. And interoperability has been a main challenge, right? You need four things to be able to talk to each other, and then you need to be able to communicate to other stakeholders, for example, utilities, and there’s many different ways to do that. I-

Bill Nussey: And these are software protocols you’re talking about here?

Jorge Elizondo: Software protocols, correct. And in our view, there’s no need for people to spend time on that. Ideally, we’ll just have one protocol that everybody speaks and we move on, that’s not going to happen. But there’s a lot of open source solutions that you can use to solve that problem. And we actually use some of those that other people developed. So we wanted to contribute to that effort. We have, right?

So we contribute to that effort, making sure that people can focus on creating value where it’s more important, right. With more advanced algorithms, with control techniques, and then leave this interoperability challenge to something that is open source, is ready to go. I wouldn’t say we’re there yet. There’s still a lot of challenges that need to be solved, but I think there’s good progress. And there’s other aspects of the platform or this control platform that could be also open source and how you manage the data, how do you store it. Things like that, that we are also working in trying to contribute.

Bill Nussey: Excellent. Excellent. So leading up to this recording today, you talked about really three big problems integrating distributed energy resources, different vendors. And you’ve talked about that a lot. You also talked about some of the challenges of integrating these microgrids into the bigger grid. Again, I think it’s seductively simple to just say, it’s on the big grid, or it’s not in the big grid, but it’s actually a lot more complicated than that. So what challenges emerge as you connect and disconnect a micro grid from the big grid?

Jorge Elizondo: I mean the big grid is a fairly complex system, I would say. But we-

Bill Nussey: It looks simple. You just see the power lines, right? I mean, how hard could it be?

Jorge Elizondo: But people, yeah, are used to just plugging things in the wall and then thinking that some magic happens behind. But there’s also a lot of wires, miles of wires and then sub stations that you can see substations sometimes when you drive around, which have all the disconnects and all these things. And then from there you go to the big transmission lines and you follow those wires back, you will see power plants, right. Which are burning gas or some fossil fuel. Maybe it’s a hydro plant that is just using a dam to store water and then pass it through a turbine. So there’s a lot of different things going on behind the scenes. So you can just plug in something and power your devices. And that’s fine. We could continue with this large power plants.

The problem is that we’re moving towards a renewable system. And renewables bring different challenges, right? And that’s because we don’t have power plants that react fast enough to these changes in renewables. Solar, for example, it’s fairly predictable, but in the afternoon, you started losing solar very quickly. And that leads to what is called a dock curb, where power plants have to run very quickly so that demand of the evening is fulfilled even when the solar is going down. So they were not running because the solar was there and now they have to run and they have to change that very quickly. Power plants are not designed for that. I mean, some are, but not a lot of them. So that brings challenges. And then you have other changes that are happening that bring complexity. One is EVs, right? Electric vehicles. So now we’re electrifying our transportation, which is a great thing to do. The problem is that that increases the load significantly. All wires are not designed for everyone to just go into their house and recharge their car.

Bill Nussey: Cars, draw a lot of power. A lot of power.

Jorge Elizondo: They draw a lot of power. And when you go to a gas station, you don’t have to produce that power. Your car produces it, right, to move. And now you have to generate it somewhere else, put it in the car and then take it from the batteries. So that brings other challenges where the load is less predictable, where you have a lot more consumption. And then you have also distributed generation, not only renewables, but distributed generation. People are putting solar panels in their houses, which is a great thing. Started putting batteries for resiliency. And that just creates a massive amount of resources in the grid. If you don’t coordinate them, you can start having some very challenging problems. Let me give you an example of what happened and you can decide Bill, if you want to have this in the podcast or not.

Bill Nussey: This sounds very promising. Go ahead.

Jorge Elizondo: Yeah. So let me give an example when a lot of people start installing solar panels in their house with micro-inverters, they then have what is called drive-through capabilities. Meaning that is the voltage was just going down a little bit, they were disconnecting, right? So the utility was producing this voltage. And then the voltage just trip a little bit because it happens, right? Something happened in the substation or something. And then all the solar panels were detecting that and disconnecting. And then a huge amount of production was gone within a second. Right?

Bill Nussey: That has happened to me. That has happened. I have micro-inverters on my solar and I took me a while to figure it out and they just blink out. Now I know why.

Jorge Elizondo: Yeah. And this small voltage sag was causing havoc. And then utility said, “Well, you have to have this right through.” Right? So they implemented something, a very simple solution of, don’t trip when this small voltage sag occurs. And now they have that. But that’s just an example of something hard to predict that if you start having this massive amount of resources that you don’t control, it will lead to complexity. So if you can control them and you can tell them what to do, and you can manage them, you can actually gain a lot from it. Not only you don’t have the problem, you have a lot of advantages.

You can, for example, instead of building power plants started using these resources, right? Let’s say you cannot produce enough power because you cannot ramp up your large power plants. You can just tell a section of the grid to disconnect, right, and become a microgrid, something that could happen. Or you can tell that section of the grid to give you power in something that is called a virtual power plant, or some people call it-

Bill Nussey: Virtual power plants.

Jorge Elizondo: Yeah. So you can manage, you can get that power from there. And microgrids can be virtual power plants. You can have a microgrid, for example, Stone Edge Farm or some of the other products that we have where the grid can call on us and say, “Give me power right now.” And we can.

Bill Nussey: So the big grid is running low on power. They can call the micro grid up and say, “Hey, send some back to me right now.”

Jorge Elizondo: Exactly. Or the opposite, right? Because there’s also a lot of centralized solar generation, big utility scale, solar farms, they might have too much generation. Maybe it’s not happening too often right now, but it might happen more in the future. In the middle of the day, they might tell us “Hey, store some of my energy.” Those are some of the capabilities that you can achieve. And by the way, those programs are usually called demand response. So something that you can do with microgrids and distributed energy resources. But again, we do it in a very distributed way, meaning that every agent coordinates with local agents to achieve goals for the utility or for whoever wants some services.

Bill Nussey: There’s a lot of metaphors that I like, and I talk about virtual power plants and demand response at very high level in the book. But one of the big stories I tell in the book is about Stone Edge. It’s actually opens up one of the most important chapters in the book. And I talk about Heila and how you guys are defining the new future of sophisticated small grids. I was talking to an engineer that worked at Rocky Mountain Institute, and I was telling her about this and she designs microgrids. And she just said, “I have never heard of Heila. I got to look them up immediately. This is the coolest thing. This is going to change the world because no one does anything this.” So this is a leading edge, teach the world, share what you learn, which is I think another reason that’s a remarkable program.

Jorge Elizondo: Absolutely. Absolutely. There has been about 70 interns.

Bill Nussey: How many?

Jorge Elizondo: 70. 7-0 interns in the project from 15 different universities. The two universities, well, one national lab and one university used the system for testing as part of an RPE grant or RPE is a program from the Department of Energy. So it’s very academic, very thorough. And they use the system to test for their field tests. We have worked with utilities, large utilities around the world that have been there and doing testing and experimentation. So it’s a living laboratory. Actually talking about Heila, most of our follow up customers after we did that first project, which that project has been up and running since 2018, more or less. And it has been completely off the grid since 2019. We can connect to the grid or disconnect, but we keep it most of the time off the grid.

Bill Nussey: So cool. So you’ve actually achieved the off-grid vision. Not that everyone wants to do that or should do that, but you’ve enabled that, so they can literally be independent of the grid.

Jorge Elizondo: Correct. Correct. The only challenge we have right now, and this goes into a slightly different topic, or I’ll mention it quickly, is that during the summer right now, for example, we’re recording this in August. We have a lot of solar generation. So solar plus batteries cover all the needs of the property. But when you go into the winter, you certainly don’t have enough solar generation. So we have to run the [inaudible 00:26:55]. The goal that we have for next year is to actually generate hydrogen during the summer months where we have too much solar and then store it for six months. And then use it in the winter. Now, this seasonal storage problem is not occurring in many places because people haven’t gone into that level yet or to those challenges yet, but we are there. We are putting a lot of effort into solving it.

Bill Nussey: This is a big deal. The seasonal challenge. The fact that there’s more solar in the summer and there’s a deficit in the winter and storing that extra energy between seasons is a very big deal. And it’s one of the reasons Bill Gates has said that, he argues that you need nuclear because you can’t possibly store the power, that amount of power that long. And I and probably Jorge and a lot of people don’t agree with him, but he’s a powerful voice and people listen to him and take it as seriously, but I’m fascinated. So, that would be a lot of hydrogen. Are you guys putting in tanks to store all this?

Jorge Elizondo: Correct. Correct. And there’s many ways to go about it. So what we’re doing is hydrogen and putting tanks. There’s other ways people have talked about synthetic fuels, for example. So synthetic fuel is essentially just combining that hydrogen that you produce with some carbon, that you can extract from the atmosphere from the CO2 and store there. You get some benefits, maybe you’re getting liquid form instead of gaseous form and other potential benefits. So we’re exploring different alternatives. And by the way, I’m not against nuclear. I think everything that can get us off carbon emissions is a good alternative, but nuclear definitely has that waste problem.

Bill Nussey: When I had first heard about you guys, you were making national news because the wildfire had been coming through California and the Stone Edge micro grid had, they call it island mode, which is disconnected from the grid in case the power might be lost at the grid. And the pumps that keep the plants alive with water would have run out of energy. And that story made national news. And that was the first I’d heard about you guys, but you have grown tremendously since then. And you have customers all over the world. So beyond Stone Edge, what other customers, what other projects are you excited about?

Jorge Elizondo: As long as you could think of it as a visionary type of project, right? This is a living laboratory. It helped us very much. It was our first customer and where Heila was born, essentially. And from there, we went into what is usually called the early adopter customers and they were fairly successful. And we did projects in Colorado, in New Mexico and Louisiana. So we did three very interesting projects. And from there we just continue growing. Now we have products in Tennessee, we’re doing a project right now in Texas, that should be up and running soon. In Massachusetts. We have across the country, in many different places in the U.S., we have in Florida, we’re actually building one right now. That should be operational in a month.

Bill Nussey: As you and I were scheduling this, I saw a release that your Costa Rica microgrid was getting tuned up. And I was like, “Wow, these guys are super busy.” And it’s just exciting to hear all that Jorge. Congratulations all of you guys, I think it’s a testament to what the future of local energy looks like, and it’s promising, and it’s exciting that you’re getting so much traction. Well listen, at the end of our time today, I could talk to you about this for days. But let’s wrap up as we do on the Freeing Energy Podcast with our four quick lightening questions. So if you put on your seatbelt and strap in Jorge, we’re going to hit you with the four fast questions and just give us your quick answers, what you think off the top of your head. So, first lightning question is, what excites you most about being in the clean energy industry?

Jorge Elizondo: What I would say is that clean energy is the main challenge we have right now. And if we solve the energy problem and the carbon problem, there’s actually no limit for what humanity can do. If you think about the other problems that we have, say for example water or waste or food, they’re all solvable if we have very cheap carbon free energy. So if we’re able to transition to solar plus wind plus many other or other resources that are not compromised in the future, there’s no limit for humanity. So that’s what excited me a lot.

Bill Nussey: That’s well said. I think I have to make sure I highlight that when we post this podcast. Thank you. All right. So if you could wave a magic wand and see one single thing change in the transition to clean renewable energy, what would that one thing be?

Jorge Elizondo: I would say transportation. We have a big challenge ahead of changing or the way we move, including cars. Cars, I mean, we’re starting to see a change to EVs, but still a very small percentage, very small. In the U.S. and then globally, is tiny. So we have to accelerate that. And then you have planes and chips and all these things that need to change as well. So if I could move my wand, I will electrify or make everything hydrogen, but it will have to also be with much more generation. So it’s a big challenge. It’s a big challenge.

Bill Nussey: All right. If you think out the next five years, what do you predict will be the largest change in how we generate, store and distribute electricity? And I assume that the answer includes that everyone’s going to use Heila to manage the systems, but besides that, what do you think the biggest change is going to be?

Jorge Elizondo: Well, I think the biggest change will be, I will say two things. One is, again, transportation, what I just mentioned. And second, is about coordinating all these resources. So, we’ll see more and more installations of solar in houses and in CNI commercial, industrial applications and people putting batteries for resiliency. And we’re going to start seeing a very big push for utilities to be able to coordinate all this and let people be microgrids if they want and let them contribute to the main grid. And, we very recently have a new mandate that’s called FERC 2222 passed which says that every distributing energy resource can participate in the market. Now that’s still being worked out, but that means that this is coming in and we’ll be seeing a very different grid in the future. In the next five years.

Bill Nussey: The federal government, this was a big move. It’s so wonky that almost nobody appreciates what it means. I’m glad you mentioned it. But basically it says that the world has been defined by big power companies and big power plants trading with each other in big amounts of electricity. And FERC said, “Well, we’re going to let little people do it too.” And that’s going to take a couple of years, maybe a few lawsuits to figure out exactly what it means, but it’s the right direction. It’s a big, big move no one’s ever heard of, except if you’re in the industry. So the final question. Final question is, people are inspired by what you’re doing and I’m suspecting that you get questions from people who aren’t going to be in the industry tomorrow, or maybe are thinking about the future, not sure what they can do. What do you tell people when they say, “Listen, I want to help this clean energy transition. What can I do personally as a individual?”

Jorge Elizondo: There’s certainly small things that people can do. Use less electricity or be more conscious, right, with your use. Maybe not so small, but change it to an AB will help, install solar panels. But definitely having an influence in their community is the most important thing because, I’ve seen the Bidwells, there’s just so much you can do, right? But influencing a community can go a long way. And that involves, community participation, voting for politicians that are considering climate change is a big problem, which it is. All those things will be very important.

Bill Nussey: Well said. Get involved to get educated. Thank you so much, Jorge. This has been a delight. I am inspired by the product that you’ve created and your personal journey and what the team is doing, your commercial traction. This is just one of my favorite stories in local energy. And I’m really glad that you were able to take some time out of your crazy busy schedule to share all this with us today. So thank you so much for being on our podcast and we will all follow you with great support, excitement, et cetera, going forward.

Jorge Elizondo: Thank you, Bill. Thank you for inviting me and yeah, it was a great conversation.

Speaker 1: Thank you for joining us today. You have been listening to the Freeing Energy Podcast. Personal stories from the clean energy movement. To learn more about the freeing energy project, visit our website, freeing energy.com. Subscribe to the Freeing Energy Podcast on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcast and anywhere podcasts are found. Make sure more people learn about clean local energy by rating and reviewing the show on Apple podcasts.

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