Minigrid maintenance with
Tonya James and Piper Wilder

In this episode, we speak with Tonya James and Piper Wilder from 60Hertz.

Listen to us on Apple Podcast, Red Circle, Spotify, Stitcher or your favourite podcast streaming platform!

Show notes and related resources

60Hertz company website

60Hertz blog

Podcast Summary

We discuss:

  • Why an off-line maintenance solution is critical for remote minigrid operations

  • The challenges of integrating renewables to microgrids

  • Their efforts to make their user interface and graphics as international and self-explanatory as possible

  • The importance of keeping mental health considerations in mind when working in remote communities, where there is often a higher incidence of trauma.

Show notes:

  • (1:40) Introduction to 60Hertz: maintenance for remote energy systems; existing alternatives, e.g. primarily paper and pencil

  • (3:50) Why remote maintenance with off-line capability is important and the lack of good existing solutions, how 60Hertz's solution works

  • (7:45) Alaska's microgrids, in a remote location, the cost of electricity for some communities in Alaska

  • (10:00) Challenges for integrating renewables with diesel systems

  • (12:30) 60Hertz international projects; the similar problems faced by microgrid operators globally

  • (15:00) Their target markets, including military microgrids, and how Tonya's background helps with their work

  • (18:30) How Tonya and Piper started 60Hertz and how they came to the off-grid energy sector

  • (22:30) The largest challenges faced by Tonya and Piper: technical challenges, HR & people management, and difficulty of raising money; operational & change management, balancing personal life, family and work

  • (30:00) Their plans for coming years: increasing functionality, making their software accessible to users with low literacy abilities, focus on women maintenance providers, their product roadmap

  • (34:00) The challenges of mental health in some of their work; adverse childhood experience, workplace trauma, military trauma, which are more likely in remote microgrids

  • (37:00) Their fundraising background for 60Hertz

  • (40:30) Industry focus on starting projects, but not enough attention paid to the ongoing maintenance requirements and long-term efficacy of operations to achieve the goals; the opportunity for local buy-in when designing maintenance

  • (44:45) Where the name 60Hertz comes from

  • (45:45) Favourite books for 2020: Traction, Insight, Braver, Biography of Dolly Parton, Extreme Ownership, Drive, Reality-based leadership

  • (49:00) Advice: Timeline is different for off-grid energy; importance of relationships

  • (50:30) Predictions: Growth, rural areas teaching urban areas about energy management