Meet the Team: Will Chapman, Energy Solutions Lead

We’re back with a fan favorite: VIA’s Meet the Team blog series! Through a Q&A-style interview, you will hear from our very own VIAneers about everything from a typical day at VIA to their favorite books, emojis, and activities outside the office. Now, let’s meet ‘em! 

What does a typical day at VIA look like for you?

One of the things I appreciate about VIA is that there isn’t a “typical day”!  It’s a combination of business development activities, strategizing how to advance VIA’s offerings in the marketplace, and creating sales collateral such as a blog series, ROI documents, presentation decks, etc.

How has VIA’s adoption of flexible work locations impacted your work-life harmony?

The flexibility has been helpful to me, especially because of everything I have going on outside of VIA with school, family, and friend events.

What’s something you have worked on at VIA that you are most proud of?

I had never given a formal presentation at a conference before. Recently, I was able to deliver a presentation at the 2022 Cooperative Technologies Conferences and Exposition on a complex piece of technology, to a room full of electrical engineering consulting firms and southern-based electric cooperatives. It was a wonderful experience for me. I would also say I’m proud of all of the work I’ve done to support our go-to-market strategy.

What’s your favorite VIA memory?

I can’t distill it down to just one memory because it has been a culmination of the little things! I’ve had a fair share of laughs from the daily Commercial Team stand-up meetings, and whiteboard sessions with fellow VIAneers have been enlightening and energizing.

What’s something everyone may not, but should know about working at VIA?

VIA offers the opportunity to work on a meaningful mission, to learn about advanced technologies, and to work with bright and thoughtful people.

What is your favorite customer success story at VIA?

In the truest sense it is a partnership between VIA and customers. With the consistent communication VIA has with its customers and the flexibility of VIA’s platform, it’s been neat to see all of the valuable product enhancements that have occurred from these relationships.

What potential do you see in VIA’s Web3 projects?

I see a lot of potential! In our increasingly digitized society, the need for data privacy, security, control, and verification will be more and more important. On the other side of the coin, there is a need to have flexibility because there is a lot to learn from analyzing data. 

VIA’s Web3 technologies help to marry all of these needs together to address big problems in a variety of sectors, especially in the energy and public sectors.

Just for fun this time, what are your top favorite podcasts / books?

My favorite books are like the weather because they change all the time. The first book that immediately comes to mind is Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court by legendary basketball coach John Wooden. There are so many nuggets of wisdom and it’s written eloquently. A book I recently read that I would recommend is a memoir by the lead singer of indie rock band Japanese Breakfast, Michelle Zauner. The third book is a literary classic,A Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankel. I’m all ears for recommendations!

What are your favorite emojis?

🙌  – ⚡️

Interested in joining a team like Will describes? Check out our Careers page or contact us to learn more! 

Meet the Team: Santiago Vázquez Enríquez, Senior DevOps Specialist

We’re back with a fan favorite: VIA’s Meet the Team blog series! Through a Q&A-style interview, you will hear from our very own VIAneers about everything from a typical day at VIA to their favorite books, emojis, and activities outside the office. Now, let’s meet ‘em!

What does a typical day at VIA look like for you?

It usually starts with coffee and reviewing pull requests. After that, we have the usual agile ceremonies with the team and from there it all depends on the project I’m working on during each sprint. It could be more coding or design sessions, debugging, troubleshooting, and/or taking care of our deployments. To sum up, I am problem solving all day!

How has VIA’s adoption of flexible work locations impacted your work-life harmony?

I love remote work!

I’m close to our Montreal office and sometimes I choose to work from there. Days start easier with that level of flexibility, less rushing after dropping my son at school and more homemade meals for lunch. Speaking of lunch, sometimes that time of day could include jogging for an hour or a workout session, if time permits.

What’s something you have worked on at VIA that you are most proud of?

I’m proud to have been part of the team that achieved DoD’s Platform One accreditation. This was a big project that involved hardening our containerized application’s security, implementing DevSecOps pipelines, and configuring our Kubernetes clusters to run one of DoD’s hardened platforms on top of them. It was hard work, but felt good to be compliant with such a high level of cybersecurity!

What’s your favorite VIA memory?

When I joined VIA, remote work and lockdowns were already in place. Because of this, it was about a year before I met my teammates in person at the first Montreal office event. It was great to have offline chats and hang out! Since then, my favorite moments are from in-person events. A few weeks ago, we had an AWESOME in-person event, where we spent a couple of days learning and having fun together!

What’s something everyone may not, but should know about working at VIA?

From day one, you get to work on cutting-edge technology. The software that we build is complex to the point that it might feel like rocket science. It would be intimidating if it wasn’t for being surrounded by awesome teammates. Every one of them will help you succeed and it feels great to know that the leadership team has our backs with consistent feedback and support.

How does VIA’s Tech Stack compare to past experiences?

We are serious about maintaining our Infrastructure as Code, and automation is at the heart of our operations. To achieve this, we rely on orchestration systems such as Kubernetes to deploy and manage our applications. We are constantly building on top of the Kubernetes ecosystem to implement vendor agnostic tools such as the Istio service mesh to enable encrypted communications. As the ecosystem evolves, we bring in more features and tools that translate into more automation and a better developer experience.

Why is our VIAneer Experience Program (VXP) important to you?

I see the VXP as my best ally to avoid burnout. It’s a system that focuses on wellness and growth. It is also an open line of communication to address our goals and needs and align them with those of VIA.

Just for fun this time, what are your top favorite podcasts / books?

I like reading biographies and I loved “Just Kids” by Patti Smith. When it comes to fiction, I prefer Spanish and one of the latest horror novels I’ve read is “Nuestra parte de noche” (Our share of night) by Mariana Enriquez. I’m subscribed to a lot of podcasts (I bite off more than I can chew…) but one of my favorites is “Philosophize This!” There’s a lot of work behind each episode and it demands full attention from the listener, but it’s worth the effort!

What are 1-3 of your favorite emojis?

☕️ – 🤣 – 🙌

Interested in joining a team like Santiago describes? Check out our Careers page or contact us to learn more! 

Meet the Team: Maria Cesarini, Data Specialist

We’re back with a fan favorite: VIA’s Meet the Team blog series! Through a Q&A-style interview, you will hear from our very own VIAneers about everything from a typical day at VIA to their favorite books, emojis, and activities outside the office. Now, let’s meet ‘em! 

What does a typical day at VIA look like for you?

Typically my day begins with coffee and the creation of my to-do list (which more often than not includes “make to-do list” as the top item), followed by a daily check-in with my team at 9:30 where we discuss what we hope to accomplish for the day and plan any potential pair programming sessions. 

I am on the JARVIS solution team, where I help ingest and visualize data pertaining to infrastructure. I usually spend my day either updating wrangling scripts, creating data visualizations in Tableau, or presenting our work to customers. Over the last few weeks, I have spent a lot of time designing a new database schema and mapping out wrangling scripts for one of our newest customers. It’s a lot of fun collaborating with my team to solve the wide variety of challenges that we encounter daily!

How has VIA’s adoption of flexible work locations impacted your work-life harmony?

I absolutely love having the option to work remotely! My apartment is only a 15 minute walk from the office and it is such a treat to have the option to start the day from home and head in a little later after my morning meetings. I walk along this really pretty path that leads directly into Davis Square, so the commute itself is quite pleasant. I’m originally from the Seattle area, so having the option to work from my parents house and not have to take time off when I travel out there is something I really appreciate.

What’s something you have worked on at VIA that you are most proud of?

I have been very proud to have ownership over the creation of various visualizations and data ingestion processes, especially this early on in my time at VIA! The responsibility can sometimes feel a little daunting, but I have an incredibly supportive team that I know I can turn to whenever I need help. I have also been proud to give several successful end-to-end demonstrations of our work to customers. As someone who never considered herself a strong public speaker, it is exciting and a little exhilarating to receive positive feedback on a skill I had always assumed I inherently lacked! 

What’s your favorite VIA memory?

I have two favorite VIA memories: the first is actually from my first day working here! I was going through a career change and was extremely nervous about making a good impression and living up to expectations. That day, a group of my coworkers took me out to lunch and made me feel so incredibly welcome that it put a lot of my anxieties to rest. My second favorite memory is from the company offsite – our first night there, the People and Operations and Marketing teams put together a game night at our office in Montreal! I’m not usually a big game person, but it was so much fun to see everyone let loose and have a good time!

What’s something everyone may not, but should know about working at VIA?

All the talk about mission and values is not just lip service! The mission and values are embodied not only in the work that our company chooses to pursue, but in the very culture that has been cultivated here at VIA. Never have I experienced such an uplifting, supportive environment where I am consistently encouraged to learn and grow. It makes me want to do a good job not only for myself, but for the people around me who have so much faith in what I am capable of.

In your role, you work and collaborate closely with Colin (CEO), Kate (COO), and VIA product owners. What’s that like?

Colin and Kate are the heart and soul of VIA, and they are a huge part of what makes VIA so special! It is a privilege to be able to work and collaborate with them. Not only do they do a phenomenal job managing the company, but they always make sure to be uplifting with their employees by giving shout-outs and acknowledging a job well done. It is inspiring to be a part of their vision and creation, and I am excited to continue to learn from them.

What potential do you see in VIA’s Web3 projects?

Web3 is still very mysterious to me! Jesus (SVP, Product Architecture) gave a wonderful, informational talk about it during our company offsite and it sounds like an interesting new direction for the field. It is exciting that VIA is steering into this change and is an active participant in shaping what Web3 will look like in practice.

Just for fun this time, what are your top favorite podcasts / books?

I am obsessed with the podcast Binchtopia – I think it has shaped at least 20% of my personality at this point. If you are interested in witty and interesting sociological and psychological perspectives on pop culture, you should give it a try! I recommend the episodes “Ben Franklin off the Percs”, “In My Old Hag Era”, and “Honey, I Monetized the Kids”. My two favorite books of all time are Pride and Prejudice (which I read so much my copy fell apart) and For Whom The Bell Tolls.

Interested in joining a team like Maria describes? Check out our Careers page or contact us to learn more! 

Meet the Team: Angelica Novoa, People and Operations Partner

We’re back with a fan favorite: VIA’s Meet the Team blog series! Through a Q&A-style interview, you will hear from our very own VIAneers about everything from a typical day at VIA to their favorite books, emojis, and activities outside the office. Now, let’s meet ‘em!

What does a typical day at VIA look like for you?

At VIA, my typical day is my ideal work day! I get to work with the most talented, thoughtful, and competent teammates while contributing to the goal of making sure VIA continues to be the best place to work. My daily tasks range from leading components of our VXP program to spending some time researching best-in-class ways to keep our hard working team motivated and happy. There are always lots of one-on-one meetings with VIAneers in between!

How has VIA’s adoption of flexible work locations impacted your work-life harmony?

I have an elementary school-aged child and most of my family lives in South America, so work location flexibility has had a huge, positive impact on my life. I appreciate having the option of working from home or from our gorgeous office in downtown Montreal. In addition, I had the ability to work from my hometown during the summer this year. My friends could not believe my work not only allowed this, but encouraged it (I thought this practice was more widely spread). It made me even more proud to be working at VIA!

What’s something you have worked on at VIA that you are most proud of?

I got the privilege of working with Emma, our VP, People and Operations and Kate, our COO on improvements to the VXP during my first couple of months here. I was able to contribute in a visual way to connect VIA’s values and organizational principles to the robust processes and outcomes that are possible for any team member. More than pride, I feel honored and valued when I remember being given this opportunity to contribute to something that is so important to VIA’s leadership and so meaningful to the entire team.

What’s your favorite VIA memory?

There are SO many! No, really… It’s hard to pick one. I would have to say last week’s Power Up is a major highlight for me (pictures below!). The whole company got together in person for the first time in years. The energy was incredible! All of us at VIA are comfortable working virtually, but there is no doubt everyone enjoyed connecting with colleagues and having discussions about our vision and strategy in person. Because we have team members in locations around the world, many of us got to meet colleagues in person for the first time. It is great seeing the team energized as a result of this time together!

Using teamwork and collaboration to bring a stick down to the ground together without falling.
Being awarded “Most Likely to Help a Colleague” at the end of our Power Up.

Our CEO Colin kicking off Day 2!

What’s something everyone may not, but should know about working at VIA?

VIA exemplifies how businesses can drive positive social and environmental change! 

In your role, you work and collaborate closely with Colin (CEO), Kate (COO), and VIA product owners. What’s that like?

It’s one of my favorite things about working at VIA. It’s an incredible opportunity to interact with not only founders, but key leadership on almost a daily basis. Working with such brilliant and kind individuals is the best professional challenge I’ve had in years. So much to learn from each and every one of them!

Why is our VXP program important to you?

VXP is important because it’s the foundation for how VIA ensures that every VIAneer is getting what they need in order to do their best work and feel good about it.

Just for fun this time, what are your top favorite podcasts / books?

My top two favorite podcasts have to be No Stupid Questions and Coaching for Leaders. When it comes to books, I have to recommend the book Grit by Angela Duckworth.

What are your favorite emojis?

🥳 – 👏🏼 – 🙌🏻

Curious about what the VIAneer’s Experience program includes? Apply here and find out more!

Mastery Monday: Extra! Excerpt! 90 second summary of VIA CEO’s presentation at Chainlink SmartCon 2022

VIA’s CEO Colin Gounden was hand selected to present at this year’s “must attend” Web3 event, SmartCon 2022, held in New York City, NY. Though most of our dedicated Mastery Monday blog readers may not have been in attendance, we’re bringing you a 90 second video of Colin’s talk in this summary blog. 

Check out the video and transcript below!

Transcript of the summary video above:

War in the Ukraine, extreme weather in western Europe and throughout the United States, waning grid infrastructure are three of the Ws that are driving skyrocketing energy prices and causing food prices, transportation prices, and your home energy bill to soar.

At VIA, we’re using Web3 to help solve and address these issues.

Your energy data is a digital asset. It may not necessarily be as pretty or as fun to look at as your screensaver, but it’s probably much more valuable.

At VIA, we’re using Web3 in three specific ways.

One, we’re using NFTs to help give consumers clear and definitive ownership of their energy data.

Two, we’re using smart contracts to be able to compensate consumers for the insights from their data and for taking actions that contribute to mitigating climate change.

And three, we’re using zero-knowledge proofs to validate and verify that consumers took the actions they said they would, whether that’s turning down the thermostat or selling back their rooftop solar.

Reach out on Telegram or Linkedin or on even good ol’ email to join us in our efforts.

Transformer Tuesday: How Annie the Asset Manager ensures reliable service for ABC Power customers

For the tenth installment of our “Transformer Tuesday” series we’re taking our dedicated readers along on a journey with Annie the Asset Manager from ABC Power as she discovers how to provide the stronger supporting evidence required to approve rate case changes.

Meet the Team: Sam Cruickshank, Market Strategy Specialist

We’re back with a fan favorite: VIA’s Meet the Team blog series! Through a Q&A-style interview, you will hear from our very own VIAneers about everything from a typical day at VIA to their favorite books, emojis, and activities outside the office. Now, let’s meet ‘em! 

What does a typical day at VIA look like for you?

There is no typical day for me at VIA! My days are a mix of business development, go-to-market planning, and sales strategy related activities. These activities can range from partner management to constructing government proposals to figuring out how to optimize our sales tools in order to drive efficiency and organization across the commercial team. 

How has VIA’s adoption of flexible work locations impacted your work-life harmony?

I really enjoy VIA’s flexible work arrangement. I’m usually in the office a few days per week. I enjoy the collaborative nature of in-person meetings with my colleagues. My role is one that requires constant collaboration with my teammates, and although we function well working remotely, some things are just easier in-person!

Plus, I’m known for being a connoisseur of the office snack drawer…but don’t tell anyone! If anyone asks, it was Will Chapman 🙂

What’s something you have worked on at VIA that you are most proud of?

A lot of the work I do for VIA is covered under customer confidentiality. So, although I can’t comment on the specifics, I’m proud of the government proposals we have submitted as well as the partner management strategies that I have developed collaboratively with my colleagues. Additionally, I am proud of the workflow processes that our team has created through our tech stack to optimize the relationships with our partners. We consistently set a high bar for ourselves, and as many know, the first step in reaching such standards is having an organized process. Now, we’re on to the next steps!

What’s your favorite VIA memory?

This is a tough one – probably a mix of the late nights working on proposals, a prank that my teammates pulled on me, and company related trips!

What’s something everyone may not, but should, know about working at VIA?

The VXP and company values are real! It is very impactful to hear and watch leadership stick to these values on a daily basis.

What is your favorite customer success story at VIA?

Generally speaking, I find it very exciting to watch how VIA’s technology can be uniquely tailored to fit customer needs through a combination of the dynamism and flexibility of our technology and the agile software development approach. I have enjoyed watching the transition of the work that we compose in proposals to the technical implementation of that work by our fantastic and incredibly skilled technical team. One example that comes to mind is VIA’s current work with USAF’s AMC (Air Mobility Command).

What potential do you see in VIA’s Web3 projects?

I think there is a lot of potential here – it is very exciting to be part of a software company that is at the cutting edge of web development, and doing so while holding true to our mission and values. My time at VIA has opened my eyes to the distributed data reality that many companies across industries face, and it is exciting to be part of a team that provides a unique solution to these challenges. 

Just for fun this time, what are your top three favorite podcasts / books?

I’m a big fan of historical fiction and non-fiction – A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles is one of my favorites. Currently, I’m reading a non-fiction book by Jimmy Soni titled “The Founders: Elon Musk, Peter Thiel and the Company that Made the Modern Internet “. Always looking for new suggestions though!

In terms of podcasts, I’ve started to listen to the WSJ What’s News podcast recently.

What are your favorite emojis?

😂 – 🐐 – 🐿

Are you interested in joining a team like Sam describes? Read more about our cutting-edge technology and values here.

Meet the Team: Dominique Steneker, Software Developer

We’re back with a fan favorite: VIA’s Meet the Team blog series! Through a Q&A-style interview, you will hear from our very own VIAneers about everything from a typical day at VIA to their favorite books, emojis, and activities outside the office. Now, let’s meet ‘em!

What does a typical day at VIA look like for you?

Mostly a lot of coding and meetings (like agile ceremonies, peer programming with teammates, and weekly meetings with customers to hear their feedback firsthand). I love problem solving and learning new technologies. So far, most of my coding has been both, which is perfectly up my alley.

How has VIA’s adoption of flexible work locations impacted your work-life harmony?

How has it not? Being able to work remotely means I’ve been able to visit family and friends that I never would have been able to before. At the same time, I can go into the office whenever it works best for my schedule and have built friendships with coworkers there. The flexibility VIA offers makes a world of difference and allows for everyone to find the best system that works for them.

If you could pick one word to describe what keeps you engaged at VIA, what would it be?

People. Whenever I am facing a challenge, I know the people at VIA are there to support me if I need them. When one of us succeeds, whether an internal VIA success or external personal success, we celebrate with them. Knowing that the team is with you is something that helps heighten the joy when things are successful and softens the blow when things aren’t.

What’s your favorite VIA memory?

My friend Matt (also a VIAneer) and I visited the Somerville office earlier this year. My favorite VIA memory is probably of Colin and Kate (our CEO and COO respectively) absolutely spoiling us while we were visiting. We were taken to all sorts of local restaurants, picked up from where we were staying when there was a chance of rain, and given many excellent recommendations for what to do and where to visit (including the Boston Museum of Science). We had a blast of a trip and a great part of this was because of how wonderful the people at VIA are. 

What’s something everyone may not, but should, know about working at VIA?

Every single one of us is trusted and treated as the smart and capable people we all are. It’s strange to say, but oftentimes companies don’t listen to everyone equally. But, time and time again, VIA has proven through every aspect that isn’t the case here. That was the main takeaway I got from VIA as early as the interview process and it hasn’t changed. The way everyone requests feedback is consistent and healthy. It’s humbling and heartening to know that I am working somewhere I am valued and that my opinion and input can make a difference. 

How does VIA’s tech stack compare to past experiences?

VIA’s tech stack is ever changing and growing. It’s a delight to work somewhere that is always striving to find the best solution, even if that means learning a brand new language or system to make it happen. VIA is really good about having high quality code reviews which I always find leads to the highest quality code.

Why is the VIAneer Experience Program (VXP) important to you?

The VXP is the main reason why I joined VIA and has been a consistently important part of why I plan to stay. I know with certainty that my growth is valued and that there are systems in place to ensure it doesn’t fall by the wayside. Time is dedicated to making sure that I am still happy here and finding solutions if that stops being true. 

Just for fun this time, what are your top three favorite podcasts / books? 

I’ve been consistently listening to a french DND (dungeons and dragons) podcast called D20coeur. It’s hilarious and a great way to unwind! All those participating are improv actors and banter off each other so well to create some very entertaining situations!

A book I would definitely recommend is The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green. It’s a book filled with reviews about random different things (think Canadian geese, sunsets, scratch n’ sniff stickers, etc.) but instead of trying to be impartial, they embrace the emotional attachment and the stories that the author, John, has about each. It was a book that helped me a lot during the pandemic and that feeling of being stuck I believe we can all relate to. It is a book filled with realistic hope.

My last favorite worth mentioning is Anne of Green Gables, it’s a classic for a reason and I absolutely adore this book! 

What are your favorite emojis?

😄 & 🎉

Are you looking for a people-focused culture like VIA’s? Read more about our values and what makes us unique here.

Mastery Monday: Top burning questions about VIA’s Web3 solution, answered!

With all the buzz around Web3 and our soon-to-be officially launched Skylight application, it’s no wonder customers and partners have asked some incredibly thoughtful questions. So, we’re sharing our answers in a multi-part series with the best readership out there: YOU! 

Let’s get right to it!

Question: You do a lot of work with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). That seems at odds with Web3’s decentralized and individual value. What’s the connection between the DOD and Web3?

That’s a fair question. It turns out that a lot of what is happening in the Web3 world is directly related to defense and vice versa. 

In short, both consumers and the DOD have increasing data privacy and anonymity concerns. The DOD accepting our technology is great validation for consumers. If you can make the technology work for consumers, you can make it easy to use and scalable for the DOD.

People forget that the “crypto” in “cryptocurrency” is short for cryptography. So instead of thinking of a peer-to-peer financial transaction (e.g., you and me trading bitcoin directly) think of data as the asset using many of the same technologies.

A blockchain can store the record of the transaction. Smart contracts control under what conditions data is exchanged or analyzed. Zero-knowledge proofs verify anonymously that the data is what people say it is.

So, any time you want to keep data private and compartmentalized but also verify that it’s real, Web3 technologies have a huge advantage here.

An example is: you have 30 countries in NATO all of whom, now more than ever, need to share information about a conflict right on their doorstep … but … they don’t have integrated systems and, frankly, don’t even want to share all information with each other.

If you can securely share insights across 30 million users anonymously with Web3 technologies, then 30 intelligence agencies is not an issue at all.

In summary, we’re leveraging Web3 technologies to help consumers and validating the security and privacy elements with our DOD customers.

Appreciate the summary, but need to know more? Check out our Skylight page or better yet, send us a note:

The Merge and what it means for clean energy

As we outlined in our most recent blog post, there’s massive pressure across the board to reduce energy costs and prevent power blackouts. For governments, utilities, industry, and many consumers, improving how we consume and manage energy has become a number one priority to maintain grid reliability.

One area that’s about to do its part to relieve this pressure is blockchain. Colloquially called “The Merge,” a long awaited change in the validation (or “consensus”) mechanism on Ethereum will be finalized in September.

By most calculations, the new upgrade will use roughly 2000x less energy than the current consensus mechanism. Like most innovations these days (e.g., speech recognition, file compression, self-driving cars), math is at the heart of this improvement.

The key change is in the “proofs.” In a completely decentralized and anonymous network, how can you verify that a transaction between two parties actually happened, when there’s no intermediary? For example, if you and I are trading bitcoin and one of us disagrees on the amount that got transferred, who do we go to as an arbiter? Different mathematical proofs are used to verify which transactions are real. In short, the current proof (proof-of-work) is greedy for energy and the new proof (proof-of-stake) has the same level of validity but is much more energy efficient.

This is good news for everyone. Not only will one of the most popular blockchain mechanisms significantly reduce its carbon footprint, transactions (e.g., minting NFTs, smart contracts) will be significantly cheaper as well. The timing couldn’t be better. As we’ve written about, the use of smart contracts and Zero-Knowledge Proofs have huge potential to support the transition to clean energy.

You’ll have seen a lot of blogs and posts from VIA recently about our work in Zero-Knowledge Proofs. We also use an energy efficient proof-of-stake approach, although our work is focused on creating proofs for energy data. Connections to Ethereum through oracles were in our original 2018 white paper and part of our roadmap. Until The Merge, however, VIA has had a private blockchain dedicated to a few users (e.g., U.S. DOD) for secure, digital asset custodial tracking. With the changes to a cheaper, more energy efficient Ethereum, we plan on leveraging EVMs post-Merge, for our newest applications.

War, weather, and waning infrastructure: The urgent need for community-led grid resiliency

To keep your lights on, the electric grid runs on one simple principle: power generation must be greater than power consumption. 

While simple in principle, this is a challenge in practice. Consider the following headlines from the past 30 days:

Power is experiencing a perfect storm that’s impacting consumers the most (high prices and blackouts1). The challenges are global, although with regional variations.

In Europe, sanctions against Russia are limiting fuel supply that has led to fuel shortages, price spikes, and, worst of all, outages2. Compounding the supply issues is an aging generation and grid infrastructure. For example, France, normally self-sufficient or a net exporter of power, has 31 of its 57 nuclear power plants shut down due to unexpected maintenance3. This hits at a time when Europe and the U.S. are facing record heat waves4. As air conditioning is not as widespread in Europe, the bigger concern is that in a severe winter, when energy consumption generally doubles, outages will be even more widespread56.

In the U.S., sanctions against Russia have increased fuel prices but have not impacted supply directly. What’s more problematic is that while solar and wind generation is on the rise, connecting the power to the grid is slow, sometimes taking over a year, due to regulatory reviews and backlogs or the lack of energy capacity7. An aging infrastructure is also struggling to keep up with electrification. This is already having an impact in both New York and Texas as heat waves in the U.S. have been record breaking in temperature and duration.

To solve for this, many utilities are engaging their customers directly. The idea is that when consumers lower their electricity usage, they keep demand lower than supply. While many traditional businesses have done everything in their power to build a direct relationship with their customers, most consumers only know their utility through their monthly bill and when the lights go out.

Similar to how the first generation internet helped improve customer engagement (e.g., email, online billing, order tracking), we see Web3 as a way to bring grid operators closer to their customers through direct engagement on the transparency and tracking of their electricity usage. Technologies like Zero-Knowledge Proofs, smart contracts, and tokens can help grid operators incentivize, coordinate, and track individual consumer usage while maintaining complete data privacy.

You’ll have seen some of VIA’s tech stack already demonstrate some of this functionality through our blogs. In the coming weeks, we’ll be talking more about how VIA can provide a turn-key solution to power providers and grid operators.

Transformer Tuesday: Battling brain drain

This is the ninth installment of our blog series, “Transformer Tuesday,” brought to you by VIA’s Will Chapman. In this series, we’ll address how leading utilities use VIA’s GDAC™ solution to manage their substation transformers with greater ease, insight, and cost effectiveness.

Grid reliability requires thoughtful preventative maintenance and replacements of critical assets like substation transformers. With soaring retirement rates and a tough hiring market, many utilities are faced with making hard asset health decisions with limited time and historical knowledge.

Taking a step back

Take a minute to put yourself in the shoes of an asset manager.

You are responsible for creating multi-year asset plans to address grid infrastructure vulnerabilities and replacement strategies.

There are dozens of different pieces of equipment at each substation and knowing the performance and health of each asset is both an essential and ongoing challenge.

Utility Asset Manager

You, like many others on your team, rely on the expertise of long-standing experts in your company who have acquired years of insight into an asset. They can provide colorful context and guidance on what happened historically or how to interpret certain results.

Your most knowledgeable expert is set to retire at the end of the year. How will you transfer all the knowledge you don’t know? You don’t even know what you need to ask about certain assets!

To make the best use of your most valuable assets with years of knowledge, experience, and pattern recognition, you need a way to transfer that critical insight to the new workforce.

Navigating the realities of the times

With 50% of the utility workforce set to retire within the next 10 years, the electricity sector having difficulties hiring replacement personnel, and the vast amounts of experience and knowledge needed to have a deep understanding of asset performance and health, there is a potential looming threat to reliability efforts. 

Thoughtful data analysis can help to address reliability challenges caused by limited organizational knowledge of transformer health.

Pooling the shared knowledge and analysis of a single utility’s transformer fleet with the analysis of other utilities’ transformer fleets allows you to predict the future health condition multiple years in advance.

How thoughtful analysis helps to ensure reliability

VIA’s Global Data Asset Collaborative™ (GDAC™) has all of the above ingredients to make thoughtful and accessible analysis to ensure reliability!  

The web-based GDAC™ portal conveniently flags high risk transformers so that utility employees don’t have to manually aggregate and analyze data across multiple databases and reports.

The “Highest Risk Transformers” report flags transformers most at risk of failure.

With this insight, asset experts and strategic planners can filter and customize their searches on factors they are most interested in. Identifying early indicators of condition decline or trends in recent failures can be done in several clicks – giving utilities valuable time back when creating their asset management planning.

A transformer flagged for Dissolved Gas Analysis (DGA) concerns.

GDAC™ provides downloadable, visual reports so utilities can provide any supporting evidence to replacement recommendations, including private multi-utility benchmark comparisons. With this unique capability, utilities can see how the health of their individual transformers stack up against transformers owned by other utilities, like what you see below.

Want to expand your organization’s transformer knowledge base?

Reach out to me on LinkedIn or email to set up some time to chat about how GDAC™ can help you plan for the future.


Open Source Monday: zk-SNARKs for Meter Data

For the fourth installment of our “Open Source Monday” blog series, we provide a demonstration of a mathematical proof called zk-SNARK (an emerging Web3 standard) for energy data.

Today’s Open Source Monday blog is the culmination of a number of previous Web3 open source releases and blog posts.

First, frequent blog readers will know that we’re long-time believers in the potential of Web3 and it’s ability to accelerate the adoption of clean energy. Our blogs below make that clear:

These blog posts are in line with VIA’s mission to make communities cleaner, safer, and more equitable.

Second, we’ve been committed to creating the best tech stack that (1) supports the transition to clean energy and, at the same time, (2) maintains data privacy:

Finally, it’s clear that the “time is now” for the clean energy transition.

So, now that you’re caught up on the importance of Web3 at VIA, let’s get to the good stuff.

Today, we’re demonstrating a zk-SNARK version of our proof for meter data. For those zk-SNARK fans out there, we’ve got a short video for you that shows step-by-step the contracts and code we have created to verify consumer electricity meter data and maintain strict data privacy.

With the integration of this proof, VIA’s Skylight application enables energy consumers to profit from interest in their data, while keeping their identities completely anonymous. We’re excited that Skylight is ready to support consumers and power providers globally. Stay tuned for more exciting commercial announcements in the next month on this topic. In the meantime, you can find more details in our Skylight white paper.

The BIG (but hidden) deal in the Inflation Reduction Act and other upcoming regulations

Following the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (or Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) last year, an additional $437 billion in Tuesday’s Inflation Reduction Act may seem like small change. 

It’s not.

Unless you’re into the policy details like VIA is, one thing that may have gone under the radar is that there’s the potential to add billions of dollars to consumers’ wallets and purses each year. The reason isn’t the tax credits or incentives in the bill itself (although that’s certainly part of it).

There are two different pieces of legislation and regulation that are going to make this happen. The first is this week’s Inflation Reduction Act and second is FERC 2222. The rule came out a few years ago, but won’t go into full effect until 2023. This is a national (except Texas) rule that makes it possible for pretty much anyone to participate in the wholesale energy markets. 

Wait, wholesale what?

In short, FERC 2222 says that consumers of a certain size (individually or aggregated together) can buy and sell energy at the same price that a multi-billion dollar company can. Up until now, most consumers were paid or saved whatever their going retail rate was (e.g., $0.15 to $0.30 per kWh) for reducing their consumption, shifting the time of their consumption, or selling their generation (e.g., solar) back to the grid. While not nothing, wholesale electricity rates can fluctuate dramatically. For example, during emergencies, wholesale prices can be MUCH higher (e.g., $20 per kWh). Those volatile, skyrocketing prices are becoming more frequent and lasting longer. We’ll actually be talking about the drivers of that volatility in an upcoming blog post.

The impact is that, by some estimates, a consumer could earn $500 to $1,000 (your mileage may vary) per year through various demand response programs. That’s with retail pricing. With wholesale rates, those cash payments will be significantly higher.

So that’s FERC 2222. What’s the connection to the Inflation Reduction Act?

Well, a lot of incentives are in place for consumers to upgrade to electric heat pumps, add solar, add EVs, and upgrade appliances. Anything new has the potential to be “smart.” That is, remote controlled so it can automate the process of turning on or off when needed. Like during an emergency.

The combination of new “smart equipment” purchased through the Inflation Reduction Act and FERC 2222 mean greater incentives and lower barriers to adoption (automated transactions instead of manual transactions).

If you follow the news, there’s been some backlash against the idea of having a company, like a utility, remote controlling the appliances in your home. 

We agree. That’s why we believe so strongly in our new Web3 solution, Skylight.

Three key benefits of VIA’s Skylight value proposition are:

So, overall, we’re pretty excited about the combination of events playing out right now. For savvy consumers, there’s HUGE potential for additional income and you don’t even need your tax accountant to help you out.

Of course, we’re equally excited that the regulatory direction is in line with VIA’s overall mission to make communities cleaner, safer, and more equitable.

Stay tuned for more upcoming announcements from VIA on this topic.

  1. Text – H.R.3684 – 117th Congress (2021-2022): Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
  2. H.R.5376 – 117th Congress (2021-2022): Inflation Reduction Act of 2022
  3. The actual amount will vary by size of home, local tariffs, local grid topology, etc. In many instances, demand response happens through an aggregator who may take as much as 90% of the savings for their role as a middle man.
  4. A demand response program is a program where electricity consumers agree to reduce their power consumption a certain number of times per contract period in return for financial compensation. A twist on this model is the Ford F-150, Duke Energy program. “Pilot incentives will reduce vehicle lease payments for program participants who lease an eligible electric vehicle (EV), including Ford F-150 Lightning trucks. In exchange, customers will allow their EVs to feed energy back to the grid – helping to balance it during peak demand.”

Transformer Tuesday: A Reflection of the 2022 Cooperative Technologies Conference & Expo

This is the eighth installment of our blog series, “Transformer Tuesday,” brought to you by VIA’s Will Chapman. In this series, we’ll address how leading utilities use VIA’s GDAC™ solution to manage their substation transformers with greater ease, insight, and cost effectiveness.

Last week, I traveled to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for the 2022 Cooperative Technologies Conference & Expo (CTCE) hosted by North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives.  

This trip was VIA’s first time attending CTCE. We were excited to have the opportunity to learn more about electric cooperative challenges and needs in the southeastern region of the United States. I also led a talk on how cooperatives can use data, data analytics, continuous collaboration, and planning to help them address threats to substation transformer reliability.

Coincidentally, I was pleased to hear that many of the key themes from my talk were also expressed in other presentations and panel discussions at CTCE as well.  

The Need to Collect and Analyze More Data
A topic near and dear to VIA, smarter and more consistent data collection, was one that was heard through the conference. Kicking off with the breakout session titled, “Predictive Maintenance for Resilience and Safety” included a case study of an electric cooperative that used Internet of Things (IoT) technology to curate data points that they could then use for analysis to ensure reliability and safety.

Speakers referenced the impacts that increased electricity demand and electric vehicles have on engineering and substation design. Cooperatives emphasized the use of data analytics to not only be more aware of where their power capacity currently stands, but to leverage the insights to meet future capacity demands.

The Need to Closely Collaborate
It became clear by midday that the need to collaborate was essential when solving current network challenges. To paraphrase one of the panel discussion speakers that illustrated the challenges of transitioning to a net-zero emission path, “the ensuing energy transition is a lot like rebuilding an airplane already flying in the air.”  

There will be plenty of uncertainty when tackling these challenges. However, panel speakers were clear that cooperatives need to work closely with their respective associations, members, employees, vendors, legislators, and system operators to ensure reliable and affordable electricity in the future.

The Need to Plan
Finally, the need to plan was an overarching point raised in several sessions. Planning comes with numerous challenges of its own, however. But, these skills are essential when cooperatives are required to think about expanding their power capacity to support new substation plan designs and the rapid adoption of electric vehicles in their regions.  

The GDAC™ Advantage
These themes are not only fundamental to ensuring grid reliability, but they all happen to be key ingredients in GDAC™. With GDAC™, individual utilities can use continuous collaboration to:

  • Overcome predictive analytics limitations due to limited quantities of data on hand
  • Accurately assess transformer health condition changes by learning from the experiences of other utilities 
  • Perform multi-utility benchmark comparisons to deepen their understanding of transformer health

GDAC™ helps utilities to better plan and take the appropriate course of action to provide reliable electricity service.

Overall, I’m excited to attend next year’s CTCE. Kudos to the North Carolina Electric Cooperatives and the speakers for providing such a wonderful learning experience for VIA!

Curious to learn more about the collaborative nature of GDAC?
Please reach out to me on LinkedIn or complete a contact us form on our website.