The Eclipse is Bad News for California (But You Can Get Paid to Watch It)

Rooftop solar panels
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The lights go down.

No stars. No sun.

The air cools. Animals quiet. People gasp — maybe cry.

“The event has an indescribable effect on observers,” Bob Berman at Wired writes about the upcoming total solar eclipse.

“Actually, seeing an almost total eclipse is no better than almost falling in love or almost visiting the Grand Canyon. Only full totality produces the astonishing and absolutely singular phenomenon that resembles nothing else in our lives, on our planet, or in the known universe.”

Everyone’s buzzin’ about this upcoming total solar eclipse, debuting across the U.S. on August 21. It’s the first time this has happened across the mainland U.S. since Feb. 26, 1979.

Grab your free glasses; make your viewer contraptions.

Then, Californians, get paid to watch the spectacle.

How the Total Solar Eclipse Will Affect California (It’s Not Great)

Solar produces 13.39% of California’s energy, making it the country’s highest solar-generating state. In context, that’s nearly 5 million solar-powered homes.

Although the state won’t get to experience the total eclipse (you’ll have to go to your neighbor Oregon for that), it will still experience over 75% coverage. (See the Los Angeles Times map to see where you fall.)

In Sacramento, for example, the eclipse starts at 9:02 a.m., peaks at 10:17 a.m. (the sun will be about 79% covered then) and ends at 11:39 a.m., according to The Sacramento Bee.

Although it helps that the eclipse is mid-morning and not, say, in the evening when people are getting home from work, California will lose out on quite a bit of energy — enough to power 600,000 homes.

Homeowners won’t experience the effects, but Steven Greenlee of California ISO told a local news organization that “it’s going to be a busy day behind the scenes.”

That’s where you can help — and get paid for doing so.

How You Can Get Paid to Experience the Total Solar Eclipse

This is where OhmConnect enters the picture.

OhmConnect rewards its users in cash and prizes when they reduce their energy consumption during specific times of the day. These are called #OhmHours.

The #OhmHours occur when the energy grid is overworking and must rely on dirty power plants to prevent a brownout or hefty fine. Those power plants aren’t really the cleanest, so that’s why it’s important to cut back. #OhmHours typically occur once or twice a week in the afternoons or evenings.

And there will definitely be a guaranteed #OhmHour August 21.

How do you know when it is?

OhmConnect users are notified via text or email when there’s an upcoming #OhmHour. That’s when they can take steps to reduce their energy usage by waiting to run the dishwasher, unplugging the Keurig, turning off the fridge or switching the A/C off.

Just for the #OhmHour.

You can also get rewarded for stepping away from the house. (Nope, you don’t have to just sit around in the dark with the A/C off.) Take the dog for a walk, set up a blanket in the park to experience the solar eclipse or settle in on your porch.

If you’re heading to Oregon, even better. You can unplug your appliances, turn off your fans and put off doing the laundry.

By participating in an #OhmHour, you can get paid. You’ll collect points based on your savings. Each time you hit 1,000 points, you’ll bank $10 — gift card or cash.

John Hastie, a San Diego resident, earned nearly $500 in June.

He’s a bit of an anomaly, though. The average household earns about $200 a year.

Do note that OhmConnect only works with specific utility companies, including California PG&E, SDG&E and SCE customers; as well as Toronto Hydro customers.

Simple Steps to Sign Up for OhmConnect

Signing up for OhmConnect is free, and it’s not like you have to sign up days and weeks before the eclipse. The whole process is pretty quick and easy.

You will need to connect your utility company to the platform, but it’s just as secure as paying those bills online.

Once on, you’ll be able to access your dashboard, which outlines your current power usage, your savings and your points. You can even move up the ranks to hit bonuses.

So why not start with the eclipse? Your state will need your help, and you might as well get paid to watch it!

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s stoked for this once-in-a-lifetime event.

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