In this extended interview, CEO B.D. Erickson II sits down with energy industry expert Jay Dauenhauer of Energy Cast to discuss Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS) and reveals why your devices get hot.
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Jay Dauenhauer is the host of Energy Cast, a podcast that examines all sectors of the energy industry and is designed to be accessible to both the public as well as industry insiders. Energy Cast consistently ranks on the Top 200 Charts for Tech News podcasts. Jay is a revered expert in the energy industry currently serving as a Project Manager for Duke Energy Corporation, one of the largest energy holding companies in the United States. His career began as a TV news producer before transitioning into the energy sector. He then served as Executive Director of the Clean Coal Technology Foundation of Texas, working with stakeholders to pass clean energy legislation for the state.
Jay welcomed B.D. Erickson II on Energy Cast, Episode 109: “Healthy Harmonics”. Over the course of the episode, B.D. demonstrates how dirty electricity is real, measurable, and harmful. He discusses a variety of topics such as the negative impacts of harmonics and distortion on energy usage, shares how Satic's products work to filter and make your electricity cleaner, and examines the condition and the merits of Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS).
Jay Daunhauer: This is EnergyCast, I’m Jay Daunhauer. Today we’re talking about literally making cleaner electricity. The Department of Energy says almost a quarter of homes on average get unusable power. My guest says that’s why our appliances and devices get hot. He has developed equipment for cleaning up this dirty electricity before it passes your meter. He also says it’s the harmonics and distortion, two components of an electrical signal that are leading to all of this wasted power and wasted heat. Clean out that interference and none of your devices should ever get hot. That’s the way they were designed, to always stay cool. My guest also says that as we’ve gotten greener, electricity has gotten less cleaner. That’s mainly due to all the energy being charged with direct current. We don’t get our energy from DC, that’s AC. But all the solar panels have to run through an inverter from DC to AC, and all of our battery power devices have to be inverted back to DC. There’s a lot of opportunities there for harmonics to get out of whack. It’s a bit controversial, but my guest says that he has witnessed first-hand the effects of these bad signals on people’s health. He believes that his products have made these people better. One condition he references is EHS, or Electro-hypersensitivity disorder. This condition has been most famously by Michael McKean’s character on ‘Better Call Saul’
Audio clip from ‘Better Call Saul’ plays
This condition is still not fully understood. The World Health Organization is undecided on a definitive cause for the symptoms EHS patients exhibit. In the scene I just played, the doctor later secretly turns on one of the devices on the hospital bed, it goes unnoticed.
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My guest says that he has run blind tests on folks that he’s sold products to and they can tell if the power signal if being filtered. It’s a fascinating topic that should be compelling to anyone who wants to know about both personal health and greater energy efficiency.
My guest today is B.D. Erickson, CEO of Satic USA, a clean electricity company based in Missoula, Montana. The company has been operating for over 12 years. They build filtering devices for homes and commercial facilities. In fact, they think the results are even better for buildings that need even higher voltages. Satic also operates one of the largest, if not the largest residential solar businesses in the state. He says that if you have panels on your house you need to give him a call! We also take a deep dive into ‘Better Call Saul’ and the health issues that he’s witnessed first hand. I hope you enjoy my conversation with B.D. Erickson.
We’re here with B.D. Erickson, CEO of Satic USA. And B.D., look, when it comes to energy technologies, this is the one I would lump into the ‘Other’ category, so how are you literally making clean electricity?
B.D.: I grew up in a solar manufacturing family, I grew up in Western Montana. We had a solar manufacturing facility, solar and clean power has been something that has been in my sphere for the majority of my life and, maybe, one of the misconceptions or confusing aspects is that solar energy is green, is it clean? Well, it’s clean, Jay, in that its renewable, it’s not coming from coal, it’s not coming from fossil fuels. However, the electricity actually produced by the inverter by other standards would not be considered clean. The alternating current has some attributes, its got voltage, wattage, amperage, but it’s harmonics, distortion, interference, power factor, frequency and all these other things. Often times the electricity made from renewable energy sources has some of those factors that are outside of an acceptable tolerance.
Jay: Give us some examples of dirty electricity. You’ve mentioned solar electricity, solar is direct current, it needs an inverter to be turned to AC, alternating current, which we all use, but what is an example of dirty electricity? What is the issue with the harmonics as you put it?
B.D.: Yes, you bet. The volts and the amps and the watts, we want those within a parameter. Like we want 120 volts, but is there a parameter for electromagnetic fields, interference or distortion? Well, there’s guidelines, but here’s an example in yours or my life where we’ve experienced dirty electricity, but we didn’t know that dirty electricity was the culprit or the cause: when you’re charging your phone, this time it gets really hot. It didn’t get hot the last 20 times, but it is today. You walk to your DVR and it’s really toasty and warm, the back of your TV is warm, the back of your fridge is really warm. So what it is that it’s harmonics or distortion or extra waves on that electrical signal that really only wants one wave. It wants one primary frequency at 60 hertz. What happened from the culprits, it adds more distortion and interference, the result from that may be a fuzz on the TV, fuzzy lines, or maybe a click or pop or tick in your speakers, and none of that ideally should be there. Now 20 years ago, 30 years ago, was dirty electricity real? Well it was a lot less. We used incandescent light bulbs, those actually cleaned electricity! They are a resister! They would just turn the dirty electricity that we’re talking about, electromagnetic fields, harmonics, interference, distortion, into heat, so it cleaned them! So electricity, for the most part, clean. But then, about 20 years ago, we started using the curly-q light bulb, the compact fluorescent light. Those are not electricity cleaners, those are electricity dirtiers, they got a lot worse. We all got all these DC devices, but we live in an AC world, alternating current. But your tablet, your phone, your laptop, anything with a battery is direct current. They too further distort and harm the electricity. Well now we got all this great renewable energy, I love renewable energy! But, we’re taking a DC panel and we’re using an inverter to create this alternating current and just because of the change in our world, electricity is dirtier today than it’s ever been, and I’m here to tell you, dirty electricity is real, it’s measurable, it’s wasteful and now they’re beginning to prove, it’s bad for you and I, the biological.
Jay: How often is this an issue? Is all electricity a bad signal now?
B.D.: That’s a great question! So we live in America, we got the cleanest, cheapest power on the planet and when it leaves the hydro dam, when it leaves the coal plant, it’s clean. It’s in good phase quality, it has good power factor, and it’s pretty distortion free! Well, how many car washes and beauty schools does that electricity go by before it gets to your house? And so it gets so dirty along the way that it actually boosts the quality and tried filtering at substations, but by the time it gets to your neighborhood, though, when we go into a home with dirty electricity meters, there are three brands of meters we use, the numbers should be 100 or less. We see them at 500, 600. Now, if you have solar, and I’m not bashing solar, but if you have an inverter, then you’re going to have 10-20 X that number. So, your answer is it is clean when it leaves the dam but by the time it reaches you or me, yes it’s dirty. It is dirty to a point that you really need to start thinking about filtering it for the life of your equipment for the health of the people that you care about.
Jay: Yeah, you mentioned earlier that in the old days where your appliances would get hot, I’m what I guess you would call a X-lineal, so I was one of the last people to remember a black and white TV, a rotary phone, and yeah I remember things getting hot, but how would you know that electrically powered appliances were being aged prematurely by this? Or is that just the normal wear-and-tear?
B.D.: Dirty electricity is not something that maybe is on the top of everyone’s mind, it’s not necessarily something that they’ve heard about, but those common things that you just talked about like the back of your fridge being hot, you really shouldn’t be, The back of your DVR and TV, forget it, they’re always because they don’t have a mechanism for getting rid of this dirty electricity. So what they do is that they simply convert that into heat. Now, that has a couple of bad results: Number one, electronics don’t want to be hot! It’s not good for them, they’re not going to last longer, and your air conditioner is buzzing to beat the band right now, it’s really trying to do its job of getting the home nice and cool. But now you’ve got all of these BTU devices in your home that makes the home warmer, which causes your electric bill also to go up because number one, heat is not free, the wasted energy in those devices, you’re paying money to make your stuff hot, that’s number one. And then number two, you are now trying to cool your home to make it a more livable place. It’s small gains, but it’s measurable, it’s noticeable, and then we add the component now of it being potentially bad for you.
Jay: And, B.D., if the harmonics are bad, if you had got a motor, the harmonics are bad, the phases wouldn’t be running harmoniously, right? It would almost be like the motor is fighting against itself, am I right?
B.D.: Yes! When all the power is not usable, then the extra power turns into heat. According to the Department of Energy, the average person right now is getting 77% real and usable power. They’re getting 23%, on average, reactive and none-usable power, that’s too much! And the result from that now is hot stuff. So do you really want to spend 23% of your bill making your crap hot? No! So, how do you correct it? You use a filter. The result is that you need less because it’s all doing work and it’s not being converted into heat.
Jay: So you offer up some products here mainly for homeowners, units that can be installed near the breaker box, looks like you’ve got some LED lightbulbs, you talked about incandescent ones, and even a unit that can plug into an outlet. Tell us a little bit about that, how did you come to those solutions?
B.D.: Thank you! So, we make a full line of commercial, industrial and residential. Most of our sales products are the residential where, just as you said, you can wire it at your panel and now what it will do is that it stops all the electricity that’s entering your home and filters it. It cleans it, it filters it, is regulates it so your phone charges cool and fast, DVR is cool, power bill is down, and if there is a health component there that you’re concerned about, you have that clean power. If you have solar, now you’re getting better bang for the buck out of the solar. Your utility company costs go down, and some people really believe that they can feel it. I don’t suffer from it, but people that can feel it, they say that they can feel it and they feel better! We also have plug-in units! The fun thing about these products is that you don’t have to wait to know if it’s working. We have meters, we sell meters, you can buy other meters online, and when you plug them in, you can immediately see EMF go down, interference go down, distortion go down, and if you have an amp meter at your panel, you can actually measure the amps if you wanted to at your panel and see it go down. You know it’s working the moment that you install it. It’s guaranteed to work or your money back.
Jay: Yeah, and B.D., just listening to you this idea that you’re bringing up, the 23% of the electricity may be inefficient and waste heat. Have you approached anybody about solutions a little bit further up the chain? I worked in transmission, we were dealing with some high voltages, and I know there was some equipment to help with the harmonics down the line, but, do you think that this should be taken care of higher up the voltage chain?
B.D.: You know, that’s a great question! Let’s say that you and I are going to filter a river. You really wouldn’t go up to the top of the river where the snow is melting, the farther down you get, that’s where the population starts. I really don’t blame the utility, they’re delivering at least to the substation for your neighborhood pretty clean power, and you’re right, they do filter it.
Jay: If you want to try and keep that 23% from being lost, does that now make that 23% usable?
B.D.: Great question! It really does! We don’t get you to 100%, we get you to about 95. It makes your day, it doesn’t make your life, but it’s measurable. It’s a very robust surge protector and most the units that we sell these days, believe it or not, are really for health because people have someone in the family that is sensitive or they’re autistic or they’re having trouble sleeping or something, and if this can relieve that at all then it’s worth it. And if you save on your bill as well and the product is able to pay for itself over the next year or two and you get it for free. The last two years for our business have been incredible, beyond what we saw coming.
Jay: You mentioned you guys are involved in solar as well. Given what you’ve discussed this idea that you’ve got to invert the direct current as soon as the sun hits it, this is something I’ve heard about in the past, the electrical output that you get from solar farms just by its own nature variable, aren’t there systems in place to prevent that already? Where in electricity’s journey from solar would you want to make that adjustment?
B.D.: You’re right about that it won’t do it to you, but again we have these attributes that solar has figured out most of them. The voltage is usually great, the primary frequency is usually great and the power factor is usually great, it’s these other things- the harmonics and the distortion that’s really taking place at the inverter. Solar just needs one more component, it needs a filter. And currently, we are one of the only companies on the market that makes something specifically to address that.
Jay: For rooftop or for commercial solar?
B.D.: Both! Whenever you’re about to put it on the panel, whenever you’re about to feed it to the home or the facility, that’s the place where we filter it.
Jay: After the inverter?
B.D.: That’s exactly correct. After the inverter, yep. After the inverter and before your home or before your office.
Jay: Sure. Look, and I know that voltage in particular is very important in industrial settings, and again in my experience with transmissions I upgraded capacitors, at customer facing substations and I had to deal with voltage drops, right? The point being here, B.D., is that that machinery is extremely sensitive to electricity coming to it. Are you talking to those folks? Big factories, places that are using a lot of big time machinery, a lot of big motors running?
B.D.: Absolutely! In fact, that’s where the equipment really sinks. And a lot of those facilities have a portion of their bill that’s their demand charge. So, those big motors are really humming, when they first turn on their really humming. The high water mark for the electricity sets a demand charge, and that demand charge is very high. So when you can lower that total power and get that dirty electricity and that non-usable power and that high arc power and that harmonic power off there, man you can really lower the demand charges. And so in residential, we aren’t built for K-vart in residential, we aren’t built for demand in residential, so the savings is quite low. And in a facility like that where you might be built for K-vart or maybe you’re built for power factor, or you’re built for demand, oh boy now the savings get really exciting because now you might be looking at under one year ROY.
Jay: Right, and I’m curious, is it the same as a home where you’re losing about a quarter of it, that 23%? Or is it higher?
B.D.: It’s higher. And they might even be charging you for it. So you might get double dipped.
Jay: You know, one of the things that I love is talking to a guest who is from West Coast, East Coast, Montana, right? Pioneering technology like this, what’s the story there?
B.D.: So, as stated, growing up in Western Montana, my family was a part of a company called Sunwise Solar that made solar panels, and they were not photovoltaic, they were induction warm air, you could heat your home. So solar was on my mind, but then I started in the lightbulb industry in my 30s and I really saw the difference between a lightbulb that made a lot of heat and a lightbulb that made a lot of light. And that’s when I started to learn a lot about dirty electricity. And then when I bought this house under the biggest power lines you’ve ever seen and the way that it affected my son, it took down a journey as a young man I never expected to go on. And so from there, it was the marriage of all the things that I’ve learned and all the things that have been a part of my life that led me to the focal point of where I am at now.
Jay: You mentioned the health issues. The big health issue that I was most curious about going into this interview, I talked to one of your folks that pitched this story, the first thing that came to mind especially with the electromagnetic hypersensitivity, was that show ‘Better Call Saul’, Michael McKean’s character, Saul’s brother, allegedly suffers from EHS, and look, I’m saying allegedly because it seems like the show didn’t take it very seriously, they suggested that it might have been psychosomatic where one of the characters still has a cell phone on right next to him, he thinks that all of the electronics are off, so, there’s a little bit of back and forth there. I looked at the WHO and what they have to say about EHS and they were saying that, look, we aren’t going to deny that people are having reactions and maybe rashes and stuff, but it could be something else, it could be responding to flickering fluorescent lights or something like that. So, where do you come down on this? Are you trying to solve EHS or is it bigger than that?
B.D.: So I think if 10 people have an illness, are maybe one or two of those people suffering from something else and being misdiagnosed? Probably! It’s certainly conceivable for me. If 10 people have an illness, are one or two psychosomatic and in their brain? Sure, I don’t have a problem with that, I don’t think any of us do. I think we all realize that it could be coming for something else or it could be in their mind. But EHS patients are some of the most marginalized in the medical field. Now I know for myself, 30 or 40 years ago, autism was quite rare and we know that it’s exceedingly common now. I remember when fibromyalgia kind of hit the scene that we marginalized someone with fibromyalgia, and now we know for a fact that it’s overactive nerves. I don’t suffer from EHS, but there are for sure a lot of folks that do and our products seem to help them. Now we do a fun game occasionally when a customer or patient is EHS and we will have them turn their back and we’ll either plug the unit in or we’ll it on, and I’m telling you, a lot of them can feel it! They can know the difference and they can get it right every time. I can’t, I can’t feel it so I don’t want to be disingenuous, but some people can. Is EHS a real thing? After 10 years in the business, I sure think it is. And do a lot of people genuinely suffer from it? I sure think they do. We know that it’s bad for equipment and that’s something I’ll stand by. Here’s what I know, dirty electricity is real, it’s measurable, you can either have a lot of it or you can filter it. Are some people susceptible and sensitive to that? I think some people are! Not everybody, but we live in a world today where the electricity is dirtier than it’s ever been and often times in society there’s a juristic change in that culture, like the aqueducts of Rome or asbestos when a few years later, you found out that maybe you didn’t know everything that you should’ve but not because anybody was naughty, but because it wasn’t intentional or nefarious. I mean the fact that we used a certain kind of lightbulb and now we don’t, well that’s no anybody’s fault! Or the fact that we now have all these DC devices and, you know, direct current is different than alternating current so you have to clip that wave or strobe it, I don’t think that’s anybody’s fault. I’m just stating that the way we use technology today results in current in a different way then its ever been before and we’re out on the front trying to address that.
Jay: Yeah, you mentioned working with someone who mentioned they have EHS and they could tell a difference. I would have to imagine that you’ve probably met several people like this being in this line of work.
B.D.: Hundreds Jay! Hundreds! Yes, it is so much more common than we had any idea.
Jay: Is there a group of people who organize?
B.D.: There are tons! So many groups, there are so many smart Facebook pages and communities for EMF, people that believe that EMFs are bad for you. Dirty electricity, the new 5G that’s coming out. Right now, there are a lot of EHS support groups and EMF groups that want, at least for their living space, to have a dirty electricity and EMF-free space, because whether it’s in their brain or not, they’re suffering.
Jay: Yeah. Good point, good point. Alright B.D., I’m going to finish with a lightning round of your thoughts on different energy technologies. Starting with natural gas!
B.D.: Natural gas is literally abundant! I live in Western Montana and Eastern Montana has been fracking for oil for years and they’ve gotten a lot of push back on that,. But what they have found are huge reserves of natural gas. The most important thing to B.D.’s brain is when we discover natural gas, we should be at least able to capture it and sequester it and not just release it into the atmosphere.
Jay: Crude oil?
B.D.: We were all taught in 5th grade that crewed oil is this finite thing that came from crushed dinosaurs and fossil fuels. I’ve heard things recently that say that the Earth might be producing more oil. What’s the truth? I don’t know. It certainly leaves room for renewables.
B.D.: Nuclear is expensive to get going, but once you have the facility, you make a lot of clean power for years. And I think that nuclear power because of some poorly managed facilities for natural disaster has a worse name than it should have.
Jay: Yeah, they just call it nukes.
B.D.: That’s right!
Jay: Coal, I’ll add coal with carbon capture.
B.D.: When you actually look at the amount of coal that’s in the Earth, coal could be used for a long time. But I don’t think coal should be the go-to, I think that it should be a wholistic approach where coal, maybe, has some substitutes for stuff. We’ve changed a lot of things! Crypto-mining and computers and co-storage facilities and these huge server farms need these huge wad of power. Where is that power going to come from? I don’t think solar panels are the only answer. Can coal play a part in that if it’s managed cleanly? It sure seems like it could to me, because it seems like it can be apart of a package.
Jay: You know who has the most coal than any other state in the country?
B.D.: Montana is on the list!
Jay: Montana is number one! Wyoming is pretty close, but Montana has the most! What about Wind?
B.D.: I won’t pretend to be an expert in wind. It seems like the initial start up cost to wind is also very high. Wind is subject to nature. And so if the wind stops blowing, the turbine stops. That’s all I’ll say about that.
B.D.: Solar actually requires a little more natural resources than mining I think then some people realize. I love solar. I think if people really knew it’s not as green as we think, but it’s an interesting renewable way to get power. It’s also creates a lot of jobs! The solar industry is one of the number one employers, it’s a fast growing sector, it’s a good job, and I think it’s a tech product that people love.
B.D.: I love bio-fuels! In Montana, the pine beetle has destroyed these big forests, and the dead standing trees, man, they burn! Why not collect those bio-fuels and take that to the coal facility where we want to keep that running? We want to keep those jobs! And then we re-plant that with native species and living trees. If anybody would really get on board, there’s something there.
B.D.: Hydroelectric is some of the cheapest, cleanest power on the planet. But what it does to native species, fish and river systems is improper. I think that the dams we already have, they are there, nothing wrong with that power, it’s cheap and it lasts a long time. I do not believe that dams should not be constructed because of their impact on native water systems.
B.D.: Geothermal is one of those things! It’s expensive to get in to, but we know the ground is always in the mid-50’s. It’s a lot easier to heat it up from 50 to 80. It’s a lot easier to cool it from 50. It’s kind of expensive to get into but it seems pretty matter of fact and intelligent to me.
Jay: Energy storage?
B.D.: That’s the ones! Out of all of the ones you’ve asked me, that’s the guy! The big leaps right now are in energy storage because we talked about when we talked about solar that it really works when solar plays along. Lithium, cobalt metals that are mined that are very hard on the planet. There are better energy technologies that are flo-batteries, that are alkaline and acidic that don’t take all those precious metals and what happens over the next decade is that energy storage, I think it has a bigger impact on natural resources on the planet then anything else you’ve talked about.
Jay: Electric vehicles?
B.D.: I’m going to take this one on the chin for sure, I think they cause more damage in mining the metals and materials that go into the batteries that they do save anything. For most people when they plug their electric car in, they’re charging it with electricity made from coal. While they’re really fast and beautiful and really fun and sexy to drive, I don’t think that they benefit the environment that they’re being reported to.
Jay: Energy efficiency?
B.D.: Energy efficiency is great and this is the space that we come in! We’re saying don’t stop using your phone, just don’t let it get hot. Don’t stop using your DVR, just don’t waste electricity. Turn your lights off, manage the thermostat, leave your windows open and stuff. Maybe the lowest hanging fruit and the easiest way to get it is just through energy efficiency, and that is what Satic is all about. Our LED’s don’t add distortion, our insulation helps you keep the hot or the cold that you’ve made in, and our units help your equipment run on just the amount of electricity that they need not the most. I think that energy efficiency is an easy to get there, we can all participate, we can all teach our little kids to turn their lights off, and that’s sure a lot easier than mothballing a coal plant. Turn some lights off for heaven’s sake! Haha.
Jay: And then finally, fusion power?
B.D.: So, the white whale! I’m not an expert in the field. I’ve heard the hydrogen and fusion technologies and other technologies are out there and exist. Would it be exciting over the next 20 years if there’s a breakthrough so that we can have a different viewpoint and discussion on all of the rapid fire questions you just asked me?
Jay: Alright, B.D. Erickson, Satic USA! Thank you for your time!
B.D.: Thank you, Jay, it’s really been a pleasure being here, I’ve really enjoyed it!
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Jay: That was B.D. Erickson, CEO of Satic USA. Clean electricity electronics manufacturer. I want to thank B.D. for his time as well as Dylan Smith at Satic for setting this up. You can find plenty of pictures for this episode at energy-cast.com as well as Instagram and Parlor at @hostenergy and on Twitter at @hostenergycast. All guests are sent the raw and completed release. So far, no complaints. Be sure to leave us a positive review on iTunes, that gets the word out. Music was produced by Shawn Stroop at Stroop Loops. That was episode 109 Be sure to join us next week when I host a panel on extending the life of our nuclear fossil generation. Until next time, I’m Jay Dauenhauer, see you next time.