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The Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie - The Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie 6th May 2021
Mr. Mathew Sachs with CPower Energy Management on Distributed Energy
00:00:00 00:33:06

Mr. Mathew Sachs with CPower Energy Management on Distributed Energy

In this week's Industrial Talk Podcast we're talking to Mathew Sachs, SVP at CPower Energy Management about "Distributed Energy that Creates a Flexible and Resilient Power Asset Market". Get the answers to your "Distributed Energy" questions along with Mathew's unique insight on the “How” on this Industrial Talk interview!

You can find out more about Mathew and the wonderful team at CPower Energy Management on power behind Distributed Energy by the links below. Finally, get your exclusive free access to the Industrial Academy and a series on “Why You Need To Podcast” for Greater Success in 2020. All links designed for keeping you current in this rapidly changing Industrial Market. Learn! Grow! Enjoy!

MATHEW SACHS' CONTACT INFORMATION:

Personal LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mathew-sachs-11a7861/

Company LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/cpower-corp/

Company Website: https://cpowerenergymanagement.com/

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PODCAST TRANSCRIPT:

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

grid, utilities, people, distributed, Mathew, business, big, demand, generation, customers, energy, technology, industrial, devices, build, innovation, renewables, power, supply, bit

00:04

Welcome to the industrial talk podcast with Scott MacKenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's go. All right, that is right. You're saying to yourself, Scott, what? Where am I? You're on the industrial talk podcast. This is a platform that celebrates you. You're an industry hero. You are

00:33

bold, you are brave, you dare greatly. you innovate like nobody's business. you're solving problems, right? And you're changing people's lives, and you're changing the world, each and every day. That, my friends, is why we celebrate you each and every day on this particular podcast. All right. In the old, industrial talk, hotseat, we've got a gentleman by the name of Mathew Sachs, right, please make a note of that. He's got a lot long title, SVP strategies and business development. The company is called C power energy management. We're going to be talking about distributed energy and much, much more, let's get a racket.

01:21

All right, a favorite food of mine, chips and salsa. I was just sort of chewing on some chips and salsa. And you're saying to yourself, Scott, Hey, your body is a temple. Now when it comes to chips and salsa. Oh, my gosh, that is absolutely delicious. Alright.

01:38

Let's talk about some events that are coming up that you have got to must put on your calendar. The first one is the digital summit. And that digital summit is brought to you by those incredible folks at IoT solutions World Congress. It is the 11th and 12th of May. And it you know what that does. It's featuring real professionals solving real problems, and leveraging innovation and technology to make that happen. Now you can use that, put it on a bumper sticker, I have no problem with that. But the real kicker is that, you know my backgrounds, utilities. So we've got, we've got a side event. So you go over there and you say, Alright, let's see what's what's happening. So you scroll on down side of it. And at 9am. Central Standard Time, we've got the Well, I'm leading a panel of great people, electric utilities, digital transformation journey. So how do you take all this wonderful digital transformation innovation stuff and apply it to that grid, apply it to Universal utilities, and beyond? So that when you walk into a room, you flip a light? It works? Yeah. Yeah. That's what we're all about. And the panel to click on in there. It's pretty cool. So it features a gentleman by the name of Phil carry. He is a consultant with mad skills, former employee of Southern California Edison, and he was leading the way. And the other gentlemen, Michael Bates. He's the GM energy with Intel. And we're talking once again, this electric utility, digital transformation journey, go again, go out to IoT solutions. World Congress, that's their URL, find the digital summit, sign up and learn something about how these leaders are moving forward with incredible solutions. All right, that the other event that I'm going to be at, I'm going to actually be in Cleveland for this particular event. It's the manufacturing and technology show. And it is, it's it's far off. So you've got a lot of time to plan for this bad boy, November 9 through the 11th. And then they have a virtual event, December 7, and eighth, this year. And again, you know, we were starting to sort of build on it. But I'm going to be broadcasting live from that particular venue. And highlighting once again, incredible people who are

04:19

well, leaders, innovators, trailblazers, second to none, making our lives better. Yeah.

04:29

manufacturing and technology show and the URL is m f, g, t, ch show.com. Now have it out on industrial talk, you'll be able to see it, you'll be able to find it. There's no excuse for you not going. That's it. That's That's all I want to say about that. Now. Now, let's get on with this particular interview.

04:49

As you all know, I geek out on this utility stuff. I don't know what the future holds, but it's exciting. There's some cool stuff happening and people like Mathews

05:00

And others are just coming up with incredible solutions that are pushing the boundaries of utilities and, and But once again, utilities want that stable

05:12

that that stable power. And they and they've got to work with a number of entities. It's a challenging time, and incredible opportunity for brilliant people like Mathew, brilliant people like Phil brilliant people like Michael to be able to just shine and really solve problems. Alright, distributed energy is really the top topics. But once again, we we cover pretty much everything. So enjoy the interview. Mathew, welcome to the industrial talk podcast. I'm excited for this conversation listeners. We're going to be talking a lot about I don't know, man, a lot of future thinking a lot of future compensation, we're going to be talking about distributed energy

05:56

outside of the fact that it's hard to say quickly, but distributed energy. How are you doing, Mathew? I'm doing good. Scott. Thanks for having me. I appreciate you taking the time out today to talk man. It's cool. It's cool. All right. For the listeners out there. Give us a little you know, background Luke 411 on who Mathew is. Yeah, sure I I've been in and around the energy space, or what I would call the new energy space for the last 15 years and they see new energy, they typically mean things like solar storage, things like that. And really building and investing in new companies. Today I lead strategy and business development for c power and really all that business mumbo jumbo In short, I'm helping find new ways to leverage our expertise and capabilities to grow and help evolve the grid we live in.

06:45

should mention you know, my previous experience spans from utilities to private equity and building some some solar companies up from the ground.

06:55

Man street cred, if you go out to his stat card out on LinkedIn, type in Mathew with one t don't come to me and say I can't find it because you're spelling it with two T's, one t s, a CA, CH s, pronounced as sack So go out there, you'll see a stack card it is impressive. c power.

07:16

What is that? It? Does that mean? Anything CPower? Or is it just the name?

07:21

See, power is just a name. We were built up over time through a bunch of mergers and acquisitions. Some of them started with a C. So I assumed this is all before my time here. But I assume that's where the C monitor came from. But, uh, but I still think it rings. Well, it does. It does. Now let me ask you this. Let's talk a little bit about distributed energy. Now. I've had a number of conversations with other utilities and other energy professionals. And one of the real challenges, of course, is how do you manage? How do you create that, that nimble that resilient that

07:57

to incentivize generation that is renewable on to a grid into a community and maintain that stability of that system? So with that, distributed energy, give us a little definition of that? Yeah, well, distributed energy is well, maybe going backwards. And second day, we traditional energy is generally done in a centralized form, or it's in big power plants that are typically far away from the demand. And then they're transported through big transmission lines into distribution lines into your home in your business.

08:32

Distributed energies where you move these generation, or other DVRs distributed energy resources into that distribution grid, often what we would call behind the meter or into your home or business and that's where things like rooftop solar or storage come in mind. And, and it is a challenge what you mentioned, I think there's a lot of challenging kind of orchestrating all these little devices to kind of played the symphony, if we could stick with that musical analogy for a while but, but it's a challenge that CPower and others try to help help keep up with, you know, in the end, there's one thing that has to happen in supply has to match demand on the grid, or the lights go out and no one's very happy. Yeah, don't don't do that. You know, everybody's in for renewables. And it's in rightly so it's all good. And, and whatever that portfolio mix looks like. But if, if my power it starts to flicker, and then I go to my digital clock on my microwave, and it's blinking at me,

09:33

no good, happy. Yeah.

09:36

So let's talk a little bit about where this is going. Why is this important? Where are we? I mean, it just seems like

09:43

seems like there's a lot of traction that has happened. A lot of things that are taking place.

09:49

Why is this important?

09:52

Yeah, I think there's there's a ton of reasons why it's important. One and maybe at the top. Both businesses and homes are adopt

10:00

During these DVRs distributed energy resources on their own, for all sorts of reasons, some because they want to be greener or cleaner, some because they want more backup, some because it offers better economic incentives for them

10:14

in terms of Bill savings, or what we do with CPower to help balance the grid with this, but, but they're already using them, if you have these things being deployed in mass already, why not use them to help balance the grid instead of going out and deploying, say, another Central Station power plant, that might be a lot dirtier, but but even

10:38

maybe more important, it only operates for a few hours a year when the demand is highest. So the idea is to leverage these assets to kind of well have the terminal become very familiar with over the last year, flatten the curve and flatten that demand curve in this case, and alleviate that generation. Let me ask you this, that the challenge I see is that you brought up this sort of centralized generation, long ago, it was relatively easy to match supply demand, because you had these centralized assets, big centralized generation assets, the design was to be able to ensure the customer, the end user, the manufacturer, the customers at one end, receive consistent, reliable power. Now, with a distributed energy model, you take that centralized, and they play a less and less role, but you're trying to create a baseload type of scenario for all of these disconnected or

11:42

these smaller generations. How do you do that?

11:46

Yeah, well, I think that's a great point. Many, many of these DDR zz that are out there are not meant to be baseload. There are some that are like a CHP type of plant. But for the most part, they're meant to, from a grid perspective, they're meant to alleviate the peak.

12:04

So things like storage, energy storage in your home or in your business, they're not for the grid, they'll never be a baseload acid, what they could do is when you have your hottest day of the summer, and everyone's using your AC and the grid at peak demand, instead of building the next new generator, he just didn't start discharging your batteries, these batteries in your home, which looks like to the grid, less demand. You know, an analogy

12:35

I kind of use sometimes is July 4, right by me, July 4 has a lot of traffic. If you said let's get rid of all July for traffic, we had to do that, which is the case with the grid, it has to state ballots. We said let's get rid of all this traffic on July 4, there's a couple of ways you could go about this, you could build a bigger highway, right? Very Kintu transmission generation, you could go let's say I'm going to take this three lane highway and make it a 15 lane highway, and you're never going to have any traffic on July 4, the problem is you're going to eat into all this land, it's going to be a little dirtier. Most of all, it's going to be empty for most of the year. So what we kind of do at sea power is and what you could do with distributed energies is kind of akin to that in the sense that you see, let's not build a 50 lane highway, that doesn't make a lot of sense. Let's pay people to leave a little earlier on July 4, maybe leave a little later or maybe not leave at all.

13:29

But that way, you don't need that big highway yet you still get rid of the traffic. Hopefully that made a little sense.

13:37

All on it. Absolutely. There's there's a way of being able to manage

13:42

and correct me if I'm wrong, Mathew, that demand side, there's there's things that can be done on the demand side of that, that equation, like there, there's probably assets or buildings or whatever it might be out there that can be controlled and managed in a way that benefits benefits the demand of that profile. Is there a way of being able to take sort of that

14:09

these these distributed energy blocks and aggregate them in such a way to create maybe a larger aggregation? Is there some way to be able to do that? Yeah, so the absolutely first you're definitely right. It's not just batteries here we're talking about buildings could be batteries in themselves, they take the fact you could cool them off earlier and kind of akin to leaving earlier in my traffic example. But um, but yes, I mean, what CPower really specializes is I would say aggregate and go one step further and optimize those assets. We stand between CNI customers, like large, big box players, heavy industry,

14:52

universities, hospitals, and pretty much all types of large CNI customers when I say CNI, I mean commercial and industrial. Yeah.

15:00

In the grid, and what we the products that we offer to the grid is really aggregations of this. So it no longer looks like a small, little one stop shop for for the the grid and now looks big. In fact, you know, across the country, we have about 4.2 gigawatts under management, which is the size of several very large power plants. So 4.2 gigs?

15:28

It is

15:30

it's bigger than a meg megawatt. Yes, it's considerably bigger than a megawatt. But yeah, absolutely. And so now you now you're able to take that

15:40

and aggregate it. And from the perspective of, let's say, managing the grid, you can control that in such a way that and like I said, I'm just sort of spitballing here,

15:53

you can control it in such a way that will benefit that grid in a positive way to match supply and demand some, and because it's distributed, maybe some part of that capacity doesn't need to be activated and southern, you have that capability of doing that. Yeah, that that's exactly what we do. And it's it's often what we would call capacity, or power, which is measured in megawatts, it also goes into things like ancillary services, like the frequency, when you have plugged in, everything's at 60 hertz, or your computer doesn't work, right. Sometimes these can be used to do things like that, as well. So it supports that too, as well, because it's

16:34

what was this, somebody was saying something about

16:38

the, the generation of the past, would ensure the quality of the cycles and the voltage and everything that you want. But the demand today is so important, because we're dealing with such, our technology is sensitive, that doesn't do well, when it's like 59 and a half doesn't like that, because everything is designed. So you. So you're able to do that, be able to aggregate that and be able to

17:08

relatively easy.

17:10

I don't know if it's easy. And you know, it's something to keep in mind that you have to do this with not interrupting our customers core business. So if you have something like a battery, or micro grid, that's easy, because it's a device that just dispatches and the only thing you'd see is a green light versus a red light, so to speak. But other customers could drop load on only the hottest, hottest day, they'll, you know, maybe move their temperature up or prequal. Their their store.

17:39

And those customers aren't going to be working for a frequency program that happens many more times a day. But so I think, you know, it's first you have to really understand what each facility's kind of potential is. Sometimes you call it the wattage potential.

17:57

And, but then you have to figure out the, you know, the right software to kind of orchestrate that back to the grid. And then you still have to win these grid programs. Some are open programs where you can bid like an auction. Some are highly negotiated bilateral types of deals, man, that's a dynamic system. That's dynamic. That's a lot of decisions going on. Do you guys work closely with the utilities? Yeah, we have a business that really focuses on winning those utility deals, and even utilities themselves. Some are more open programs where you can bid in, and others are, we like to say are close, but you have to bid to win that program.

18:37

Like an RFP type of supplier, yeah, we, we work very closely with them. And what we find they often value is the insight we have into our customers and what they could do that that's where, because you can imagine if we're in Region, let's say on the Northeast, and then we have a similar set of customers on the, the Northwest, we understand how much load and how dependable and how accurate because from a utilities perspective, dependability is everything you might get there, sometimes that doesn't count for them, you got to get there all the times because it will go back to the first thing you're not happy if you walk into your oven light flickering.

19:18

And that's a lot of pressure on you guys, because because utilities, they've been around for a long time. They use a lot of that, that technology, the way they operate, their system has been around for a long time since the beginning of power. And they've they've just the system has evolved into what it is today. However, they can always go back to Okay, now this is not working, our customers being impacted. We're going to pull back and we're going to do whatever is necessary. So pressure on you guys. It's definitely some pressure. We got to get it right you know you're in the energy business you there's not a lot of room to get it wrong and there's there's there's big problems. If you do

20:00

But it's also a growing problem for utilities and grid operators alike in the sense that we talked a little bit about renewables earlier. And we have these low cost renewables that are clean and generally great getting deployed in mass right now. But you know, if there's a downside of this, that they're different than the traditional generation, they're intermittent. In other words, when the sun goes behind the cloud, solar panels produce less than electricity. So now you have this growing need of where they used to have this, what we would call firm production, now you have this intermittent production. And we could go back to that kind of highway example, we could build this redundant generation system to pick up or we could have demand react a little bit more to supply, which, which, obviously, we're big fans of here.

20:47

That's a, that's a digitization that's an innovative solution to that, because you're talking old school thinking, and I remember going to the system operator, or whatever they call it at that time, many years ago, where the guy would just sit there, it's still very manual, I see my demand going up, I could sit there and turn my generation, I can meet it. And then if there's a huge peak, then I just turn on a turban, a, you know, g turban and start popping and getting that demand or the getting that supply up to meet the demand. But here, I mean, it's it's, it's a lot of little things. That's, that's a dynamic system. And and I don't know, and correct me if I'm wrong, Mathew,

21:32

it has to be done through technology. I don't think the human the human side could manage it that way.

21:39

Yeah, it depends on how big and small your pixels are. Like when when our industry started, it was about summer peaks and eliminate summer and you'd have some very big loads. And it used to be done with phone calls, hey, call up XYZ company, tell them to drop their load and go through to the curtailment plant. And we still do a bit of that. But but for the most part, it's gravitating all the way to much more automated to the case where a fair amount of our portfolios now will machine to machine people don't get involved. But you're spot on Scott.

22:11

What are the what are the roadblocks? I mean, it's going to happen, let's put it is happening now. It's going to be more and more. There's a lot of other dynamic challenges existing within the utility space beyond what you guys are doing, but it's all very dynamic. What what are the roadblocks, what are we talking about here? Yeah, it's a fair point. And maybe I should preface everything saying is I don't ever envision us moving to a fully distributed system that there will be central station generation and there will always be a need for that. But Roblox for us is part regulatory. We have regulators for utilities, and yes, those so called DSO or ISOs, ISOs. Yeah, ISO independent system operators. Yep. They, they're there. Their job isn't to experiment with new technologies, right, which To be frank, they're Their job is to ensure reliability the grid and ensure that the right economics and the fair economics so that they're not really incentivized to push new rules out in front of the technology. So I kind of sometimes liken that to a capacitor, you have everything getting shoved in there built up, then it just unload. So we just had one unloading fork, which is a the

23:28

federal regulator transmission. Yeah, exactly. But they came out with only going for 2222. But it basically says that, so ISOs, and artios need to

23:41

need to reward or compensate distributed energy devices in the same way that the central jet is.

23:50

See, I'm going to push back a little bit, here's the deal. I'm an ISO, or I RT or whatever, my I get paid, or I'll get penalized. I'm okay, over here. If I deliver my power in the right way. If I don't, I get penalized. So I'm not. And yet yet there seems to be a disconnect between the incentives to try to incentivize businesses to more to that distributive, renewable, whatever might be over here. And yet, these over here are saying, nah, ha, no, I tried that one time I got penalized and everybody hates me because of that, and customers are coming at you. So there's a real disconnect that happens there. I think that's a fair point and you know it which he need to get it right to start with like, you can't be this is forget about your oven in my life. This is people's hospital, their oxygen, other things that are alive that you know, there's these things need to work and there's critical, critical loads out there that have to work no matter what more than five nine accuracy. But you know, it has been proven

25:00

to work overtime and but this is kind of the this is this kind of the issue. You know, we were talking about challenges when do when is it the right time for that capacitor to load? And how far did these technologies have to develop? And how far can you develop them without kind of mass deploying them and you know, I think where the rubber kind of meets the road here is another kind of important thing to consider is economics. And you know, people can pay up to kazoo for their electricity either is probably the, one of the quicker ways to create unhappiness is to

25:36

have basic necessities are increased the cost of basic necessities, which I think electricity is so I think it's here. And you know, the funny thing is, is all this one of the big reasons that you see DRS being deployed, we talked about it just really briefly, is resiliency. We've seen our grids fail us over the last year, California, Texas, and you would, what does that do that drives more people to go out and get types of backups, batteries? backup, Jen, just Oh, yeah, Jen said, micro grids. And that's

26:08

as those are deployed, you're just increasing the opportunity to be able to use those for for other reasons at a low cost, because now you're not trying to incentivize their deployment, you're purely tap into something that's already there. Okay, so let's put your future hat on real quick. Where do you see it going? What, what do you think is going to happen in the future? Yeah, that's, um, well, kenaz, let's quickly refresher where we came from. It was really a supply driven network is what we've been talking about. In other words, if I flip my light switch on here in New York, somewhere, regeneration clicking on to supply the electron. So oversimplified example, granted, but it is still a real, it's a real time commodity, both both open. And that that's where we come in from. And now we're going to as you're seeing these distributed assets being called on to supply things more and more, and that's been growing it and that's bringing us to what I would call a two way or bi directional grid.

27:08

And we're seeing that happening more and more. And I think that's kind of where the beginning stages of that right now. And as we do this, we, companies like us are investing in what we call optimization technologies to improve this greater and greater, but we're also getting more and more data, and you're also getting more and more decentralized devices out there. So where does this all wind up? I don't know. But sometimes I like to think it will be like the Internet, and gravitate to what I would call an omni directional network. So in the internet, we all consume information, we read emails, webpages, we all produce information. So more emails, for sure, send me an email, you should see more, you should see some of the emails I get, I wonder how people consume or produce such large information. But and then they also store information, whether in the cloud or locally, right? And then if I send it, if I send it, if I sent you an email, today's got it in my route through Kansas, and tomorrow, it might route through Milwaukee. But the network's always, always adjusting. So as we have more and more of these nodes and these distributed devices out there, and better and better logic, does our electric grid eventually become omni directional like that? And it's interesting. Yeah. So far away? Well, no, you're the SVP of strategy and business development. That means you, you have this conversation quite a bit. Yeah, that's cool. Get paid to dream sometimes. And that's the best part of my job. But I'm telling you right now, it is it's important. You know, you're constantly educating, you're constantly collaborating and innovating. That's, that's what makes this time really interesting. From my perspective. I don't know what switch clicked. But all of a sudden, everything is possible. Everybody's saying, why not? Well, I'm gonna do it. And then the technology is sort of there to be able to do it. And it's just an interesting time. And I wish I was younger, because I think that

29:04

I don't know the future's bright. From that perspective. I think so too. And in, you know, in fairness, the grid hasn't changed much since salmon soul and gave 100. And something years ago, God founded it. So we're, we're overdue for somebody innovation here. We've changed how we do everything else there. But it's a super exciting time. And mostly because I think we can make a difference with what we do make make people's lives better.

29:30

And hopefully more affordable.

29:32

ASCII, and you will, it'll happen or it stops cold in a sense. It doesn't continue to move forward. It doesn't. If you don't have the right things in place to make it and to facilitate this new innovation, then, yeah, it's it's tough to keep on you know, doing that. But I think you guys are there and you understand what the drivers are. And as a consumer, I just want flip on my lights. It's on doesn't fluctuate. I'm happy.

30:00

As a clam, that's the simple reality that I'm I live under. That's right. You know, one of my mentors once told me a good analogy are those with solar but he's,

30:11

he said, Mathew, people don't go solar to save money. And he said, you know, they'll, they'll go solar to be green, they'll go to be tech forward or go to,

30:20

they'll go for many other reasons for some resilient power on their house. However, you need to save the money. Because if you don't save the money, they'll be embarrassed when they tell their friends. And that's, that's so wisely. Not sooner. No, that's true. And but none of these solutions work if they're not economic. Yeah, you're you're spot on. Alright, how do people get ahold of you? They might have said, Gosh, darn it, that Mathew with one T is amazing. I want to get a hold of them.

30:48

Well, I guess the best way hit me up on LinkedIn. Or I tried my best to get in touch with folks or I'd read out my email here, but it's it's quite long. So you might do better on LinkedIn. But don't forget the one T. That's exactly right. Ma t h e. W SACH. S is his last name. sax is how you spell it. Yeah, reach out. Let me see. Apparently there are other Mathew sacks out there.

31:18

I'll be the one with C power with a comic. Like, put a little comment in there and see power. You're good. All right. Hey, you were wonderful. I'm telling you, man, futures in good hands with people like you and see. See power and others. I like it.

31:33

I had a good time, Scott. This is great. Yeah, cool stuff. All right, listeners, we're gonna wrap it up on the other side. So if you're not, we're going to be able to provide once again, how to get ahold of Mathew, the wonderful people at C bar. And, you know, thank you for joining. You're listening to the industrial talk Podcast Network.

31:58

All right, thank you very much. Mathew sacks. Thank you very much. Please know, it's only one T and Mathew and saxes, sh ch s, look at his stat cart reach out there on LinkedIn, you will not and I'm telling you, you will not be disappointed. Reminder, again, remind,

32:19

put this on your calendar may 11. Through the 12th Digital summit brought to you those by those incredible people at IoT solutions, World Congress, they're passionate about really

32:30

leveraging innovation and technology to solve problems. And everybody that's in that particular business summit, powerhouses, I'm just saying. And then the other one, of course, it's the manufacturing and technical show. Technology show, November 9 through the 11th 2021. Make a note. It's all out there, industrial talk.com. All right. Once again, hanging out with people who are bold, brave and daring greatly, and you're going to change the world, like all of these people that are at these conferences.

33:00

Thank you. Thank you for joining and supporting the industrial talk. We're gonna have a great conversation.