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Sanjay Ranchod, General Counsel at OhmConnect

Sanjay Ranchod, General Counsel at OhmConnect

December 11, 2023

How do you view the role of legal professionals in addressing climate change? There are so many ways for legal professionals to make a difference in addressing climate change, from participating in litigation to stop harmful projects or shape key doctrines, to advising business leaders in climate tech seeking to navigate changing regulatory conditions, to helping policymakers aaddress hurdles to deploying clean energy solutions. These opportunities are in the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors, and we need more talented lawyers to get involved because the scope and complexity of the challenge is massive.

I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to wear several hats when contributing to climate solutions. As the General Counsel of a climate tech company, my team’s work supports the success of our business, which is building virtual power plants that facilitate the transition to 100% clean energy. In the public sector, I serve on the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, a state agency that is developing a region-wide strategy for sea level rise adaptation. I’m also a board member of a national environmental organization that promotes climate solutions, conservation, and movement building through strategic philanthropy and grassroots advocacy.

What motivated you to work in this sector, and how do you see the company's mission aligning with your personal goals? I’ve been passionate about advancing solutions to address the climate crisis for many years, and now the urgency of this work is undeniable as extreme weather events and their destructive impacts become more common. I’ve focused on accelerating the transition to clean energy because the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. come from burning fossil fuels.

OhmConnect’s mission is to rally people to change how and when they use electricity — unlocking clean, affordable and reliable energy. Our technology empowers consumers to save energy during specific times when the grid is stressed, and our platform networks hundreds of thousands of homes together to act like a virtual power plant that automatically reduces demand. The benefit to the grid is the same as adding the equivalent amount of generation and when OhmConnect is dispatched, it typically means a dirty peaker plant doesn’t have to be turned on. I’m privileged to work at a company whose mission aligns so well with my personal goals.

Could you share some examples of innovative legal strategies or approaches your company has taken to advance green technologies? Our company participates in state and federal policymaking that is relevant to our business, including in California where the state has set ambitious clean energy and climate goals. My team includes policy experts who collaborate with other stakeholders to develop policy proposals that will enable the scaling up of flexible demand solutions like virtual power plants and advocate in legislative and regulatory venues for those proposals.

This work, which includes managing “change of law” risk by monitoring, analyzing and responding to proposed policy changes, is important in a regulated and dynamic industry like energy, especially where many of the existing rules were designed for the technologies of yesterday. Recent policy changes that many companies in the climate tech sector supported, including the historic climate-related investments of the Inflation Reduction Act, are providing new opportunities to demonstrate what innovation in this sector can accomplish.

Are there any emerging trends or innovative legal approaches you find particularly promising in the fight against climate change? Climate change disclosure rules are receiving renewed attention after California Governor Newsom signed landmark climate disclosure bills in October that will change the landscape of climate reporting in the U.S. After the SEC delayed a rulemaking on its March 2022 proposal requiring publicly traded companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and climate-related risks to their operations, California has gone further by requiring thousands of public and private companies doing business in the state to measure and publicly disclose their greenhouse gas emissions on an annual basis, starting in 2026.

California’s rules will better enable investors to assess how companies operating in the world’s fifth largest economy - and beyond - are addressing climate risks, and the disclosure of standardized information should contribute to better investment decisions and a more sustainable and resilient financial system.

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