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Squad Spotlight: Rachel Smith

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Rachel Smith Uplight

Every month I interview an Uplight employee to get to know more about what they do at Uplight and why they love working here! This month I talk to Rachel Smith about her work.

What do you do for Uplight? 

I am a Senior Software Engineer on the Orchestrated Energy pod. I architect and write software to help utility companies to distribute energy usage during extreme heat or cold, thereby avoiding the use of additional inefficient and expensive resources that are often bad for the environment.

What do you find most exciting or rewarding about working for Uplight? 

I am ecstatic that Uplight is now a Certified B Corporation. Being able to work for a company that is not only driven by profit, but also by the goal of accelerating the clean energy ecosystem makes going to work every day purposeful. I am able to take pride in the positive impact that the work I do at Uplight has on the world that I live in. 

How does the work you do contribute towards creating a more sustainable future and better customer energy experiences? 

On the Orchestrated Energy pod, with a utility customer’s permission, we integrate with their smart thermostat(s) in order to offset energy consumption during peak load times. For example, on a very hot day, individuals tend to run their air conditioners at the same time, during the hottest hours of the day. This produces heavy load on the energy grid during that time window. In order to meet this demand, utility companies often have to employ inefficient and expensive energy resources that do not benefit the environment or energy costs for their customers overall. To combat this practice, OE pre-cools (or pre-heats on a very cold day) customers’ homes when energy demand is low and inexpensive. Using local weather, the home’s unique characteristics, and the customer’s comfort preferences throughout the event day, OE can ensure the customer stays comfortable and minimize HVAC usage during the event. The customer still has ultimate control and can opt out of an event day. 

How did you get into this work? 

There are three things that are important to me in my career: the mission of the company that I work for, the caliber of the people that I work with, and the engagingness of the software that I work on. I was drawn to Uplight, because it stands out in all three categories. Solving difficult technical problems with elegant, efficient solutions is what makes me tick. It’s a dream come true to be able to do exactly that alongside my brilliant peers at Uplight in order to make the world of energy a brighter place. 

What has been your favorite project so far at Uplight?

I really enjoyed the work we did this past year to support Nest thermostats in OE. Nests have a significant smart thermostat market share for most of our utility customers, so supporting them is a win for us and a win for our customers; we saw a record number of OE registrations this past year, the majority of which were Nests. Additionally, as many software engineers know, it is hard to find time to tackle technology debt- outdated or bad code solutions, often due to initial time constraints. With this project, we were able to improve the overall OE ecosystem, migrating to new, higher quality services that make use of innovative, better-suited technologies. 

What is one thing that has most surprised you about working here? 

One thing that surprised me about working here is the willingness of my peers to speak up to promote a healthy working environment. Whether it is applauding a teammate’s accomplishments, arguing for more time to do a project correctly rather than quickly, or endorsing new technologies to keep our software scalable, secure, and reliable, I am grateful to work at a company where employees are comfortable making their voices heard. 

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