American-Made Challenges


Digitizing Utilities: Round 2

Help electric utilities tackle data and cybersecurity challenges to advance grid reliability/resiliency and mitigate cybersecurity risks
Informational Webinar


Following a successful Round 1, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Electricity launched Round 2 of the $1.85 million Digitizing Utilities Prize, with support from DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response. This prize connects utilities with interdisciplinary teams of software developers and data experts to transform digital systems and data analytics for utilities in the energy sector. 

The electricity sector is facing an “explosion” of data coming from a variety of sources. 

Recent advances in sensor technologies allow utilities to access fast-streaming data sets, challenging traditional methods of data acquisition, use, and storage. To fully utilize the massive influx of data from these sensors, the electricity sector must undergo a transformation in how it manages data quality, storage, and processing. 

The Digitizing Utilities Prize supports competitors as they develop innovative solutions to transform data analytics and system digitization for utilities, such as energy use data, synchrophasor data, weather data, fire assessment data, and more. In Round 2, innovators have the option to focus specifically on addressing cybersecurity threats and risks through demonstrated improvements in risk identification, analysis, prediction, or proactive response for enhanced protection of digital energy infrastructures.

Through this prize, teams will identify a utility partner facing a digitization, data, or cybersecurity challenge and propose a solution for solving it. Proposed challenges and solutions must have an implementation path within the utility partner. Topics can include, but are not limited to:

  • Addressing data quality, interoperability, and processing at the source of data generation within a utility
  • Increasing a utility’s resilience to cyberattacks
  • Integrating data sets across different sources, including both inside and outside a utility
  • Developing data analytic systems to improve resilience and system operation, including predicting asset health and maintenance needs
  • Utilizing energy data to improve energy equity efforts within a utility
  • Developing data analytic systems to address wildfires, earthquakes, storms, and other natural hazards
  • Providing better data visualization and informational displays as well as enhanced user experience to operators and engineers at utilities
  • Improving a utility’s ability to evaluate and integrate new software tools
  • Automating menial operational and analytical tasks within utilities in a transparent manner
  • Making operational data available for use within utilities while maintaining security
  • Automating data anonymization and data set creation for secure sharing with outside researchers and third parties.

For the Digitizing Utilities Prize Round 2, DOE has a specific interest in problems and solutions around cybersecurity, including mitigating the most significant cybersecurity threats and risks to U.S. critical infrastructure.

Competitor Tracks

This prize invites competitors to propose software solutions meet challenges in one or both competitor tracks:

Track 1: Utility Digitization/Data Challenge 

Track 2: Utility Cybersecurity Challenge

Competitors must identify whether the solution applies to Track 1, Track 2, or both within the application. Applicants who choose to compete in both Track 1 and Track 2 are eligible to receive prizes from both tracks. 

Phases and Prize Amounts

This competition has two phases—Plan and Progress—to drive accelerated development of the most promising ideas. 

Phase 1 – Plan

Competitors will connect with a utility partner, identify a data and/or cybersecurity challenge, and propose a solution to that problem. Teams will then demonstrate a thorough understanding of the problem, as well as their ability to access relevant resources that can be leveraged for this prize.

Track# of WinnersPrize Amount
Track 1: Utility Digitization/Data ChallengeUp to 8$75,000 cash prize each
Track 2: Utility Cybersecurity ChallengeUp to 6$75,000 cash prize each

For more information on Phase 1 and the required submission materials, please review the Official Rules. Any questions unanswered in the rules document can be asked during the prize’s upcoming webinar or raised in the Forum Tab, where a prize administrator will publicly respond.

Phase 2 – Progress

Competitors will work side-by-side with their selected utility partner on their presented issue for 6 months to develop and refine a software solution that addresses the issues that the utilities are dealing with. At the end of Phase 2, teams will present their progress toward implementing their solution.

Track# of WinnersPrize Amount
Track 1: Utility Digitization/Data ChallengeUp to 3$200,000 cash prize each
Track 2: Utility Cybersecurity ChallengeUp to 1$200,000 cash prize


Competitor Eligibility 

The competition is open only to private entities (for-profits and nonprofits); nonfederal government entities such as states, counties, tribes, and municipalities; academic institutions; and individuals, subject to the requirements in the Official Rules.

Past competitors of the Digitizing Utilities Prize Round 1 are encouraged to reapply with updated submission materials; however, teams who won any phase of Round 1 are discouraged from submitting the same or similar idea to this round or any future round of the prize.


Form a Winning Team

Whether you’re a single applicant searching for a utility partner or a utility team seeking a teammate with a particular skillset, our prize partners can help you search for the right fit. Learn more during a 30-minute conversation with prize partner, yet2.


Challenge Updates

Submission Reminder + NEW Resources

April 17, 2024, 2:12 p.m. PDT by Carlie Ortiz


Don’t forget, the submission deadline for Round 2 of the Digitizing Utilities Prize is Tuesday, May 7 by 5 p.m. ET. The prize administrators highly recommend uploading your submission before 5 p.m. to avoid any technical delays. 

Informational Webinar Recording

The recording and slides for the March informational webinar are now posted in the Resources tab. Watch the recording to learn more about submission details, key dates and deadlines, and teaming.

Official Rules April Mod

A modification to the Official Rules as been posted in the Resources tab. Please ensure your team has read this document in its entirety before uploading any submission materials. 


If you have a question that isn’t addressed in the informational webinar recording or within the Official Rules, we suggest posting in the Forum tab where other competitors and prize administrators can post answers. 

We look forward to seeing your submissions soon! 

Informational Webinar TODAY

March 21, 2024, 8:16 a.m. PDT by Carlie Ortiz


Don't forget, today is the last informational webinar for Round 2 of the Digitizing Utilities Prize. Join the prize team to hear more about submission details, key dates and deadlines, and teaming. Can't make the live event? Check back here next week to watch a recording of the webinar and review the slides presented. 

Register for the webinar today at 12 p.m. ET. 

We hope to see you there! 

Don’t Forget to Register

March 6, 2024, 1:16 p.m. PST by Carlie Ortiz

Hey competitors! Don’t forget that Thursday, March 21, at 12 p.m. ET, is your next chance to learn more about exciting prize updates, important submission details, and other key information. Register today to join us live or follow the prize here on HeroX to be notified when the event recording has been posted.  

As a reminder...  

  • Looking for application or teaming support? Don’t forget to schedule your 30-minute timeslot with prize partner yet2! 
  • Curious about submission materials? Read the Official Rules in the Resource tab.  
  • Need an answer to a quick question? Post your question in the Forum tab and a prize administrator will post a public response. 

Submissions are due May 7 by 5 p.m. ET!  

Register Today for the Next Informational Webinar

Feb. 7, 2024, 9:54 a.m. PST by NREL Prize Administrator

Hey competitors!

Join us Thursday, March 21, at 12 p.m. ET for your next opportunity to hear from the prize team about Round 2 of the $1.85 million Digitizing Utilities Prize. Learn more about submission details, key dates, competitor eligibility, and how to find teammates. Plus, stay for the Q&A session at the end of the webinar to get live answers from prize administrators. Register today!

Can’t make it to the live webinar? We’ve got you covered! A recording of the webinar will be available shortly after the event on HeroX. Make sure you’re following this round of the prize on HeroX to receive an email notification when the 2024 recording is published and other important prize updates. 

See you soon!

Additions to Resources for Digitizing Utilities Prize Round 2

Feb. 1, 2024, 2:26 p.m. PST by NREL Prize Administrator

We have expanded our resources for the Digitizing Utilities Prize Round 2! You can now find a helpful document outlining suggested items for Letters of Commitment or Support in the resources tab. 

We have also added the link for the Yet2 office hours in the resources tab.