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American-Made Challenges

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Digitizing Utilities: Round 2

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

This challenge is closed

stage:
Phase 2 Opens
prize:
$2,150,000

This challenge is closed

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Summary
Timeline
Updates19
Forum20
Teams300
Resources
FAQ
Summary

Overview

Following a successful Round 1, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Electricity launched Round 2 of the $2.15 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 9$75,000 cash prize each
Track 2: Utility Cybersecurity ChallengeUp to 2$175,000 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

$75,000 voucher each

Track 2: Utility Cybersecurity ChallengeUp to 1$300,000 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.

Timeline
Updates19

Challenge Updates

Congratulations Phase 1 Track 1 Winners!

July 17, 2024, 11:18 a.m. PDT by Carlie Ortiz

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Electricity (OE) today announced nine Phase 1 Track 1 winning teams of the Digitizing Utilities Prize Round 2. The following teams will now move on to Phase 2 of the prize where they’ll continue to develop their proposed solutions. 

Soon, the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) will announce additional teams to be awarded $125,000 in cash prizes each for their proposed solutions toward the Utility Cybersecurity Challenge track (Track 2).

Track 1: Utility/Data Challenge Track Phase 1 Winners

ChainSCADA, ChainSCADA: Blockchain Integration with DNP3

  • Utility Partner: Hingham Municipal Lighting Plant
  • This team will integrate blockchain-based PKI infrastructure to enhance security and trustworthiness of DNP3 communications, as well as streamline operations, improve regulatory compliance, and mitigate cybersecurity risks. Watch an overview of their proposed solution. 

Enterprise Graph DB Team, Enterprise GraphDB to Better Data QA & Analytics

  • Utility Partner: Alabama Power Company
  • Project Partner: E Source
  • This team will establish a cloud-based analytics “storefront” (using CosmosDB) to query a comprehensive, analytics-ready graph database that is powered via automated data validation pipelines from enterprise data sources. E Source will leverage the storefront for preliminary analytics use cases that have been identified. Watch an overview of their proposed solution. 

Grid Elevated, MIDAAS Platform

  • Utility Partner: Heber Light & Power
  • Project Partner: Grid Elevated
  • This team is developing the Multi-Source Data Acquisition, Analytics, Sharing, and Security (MIDAAS) Platform, a toolkit of secure data analytic modules built upon Grid Elevated’s data acquisition solution. The MIDAAS Platform provides the infrastructure to translate large amounts of data recently enabled by the energy transition to meaningful information to impact decision-making. Watch an overview of their proposed solution. 

NC Storm-Based Outage Prediction, NC Storm-Based Outage Prediction

  • Utility Partner: North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives (NCEC) 
  • Project Partner: North Carolina State University 
  • This team aims to develop a predictive analytics tool to forecast storm-based outages in advance of weather phenomena to aid in making staffing and supply decisions. They will work to create software that NCEC and other cooperatives can use to provide real-time estimates on the likelihood of storm-based outages with a three and five-day lead time. Watch an overview of their proposed solution. 

RPG Lab, EV Load-Accelerated Cable Failure and Replacement

  • Utility Partner: CenterPoint Energy (CNP)
  • Project Partner: University of Houston
  • This team plans to develop a data-driven proactive cable replacement method, aiming to address CNP’s concern on accelerated cable degradation and failure due to fast-growing EVs. Particularly, they will focus on projecting EV adoption rate and estimate future load profiles, as well as predicting cable remaining useful life (RUL) and estimating when the cable would fail and must be replaced. Watch an overview of their proposed solution. 

Team Climformatics, Proactive Climate Risk Mitigation for Utilities

  • Utility Partner: Xcel Energy
  • Project Partner: Climformatics, Inc. 
  • This team aims to build an advanced software application that serves as a decision support tool for utilities to evaluate and mitigate the climate risks threatening the utility assets and user communities. This tool will provide actionable analytics for extreme weather events that occur up to a year in advance. Watch an overview of their proposed solution. 

Team Plentiful, Pre-Computed DERs and Pre-Approved Interconnection

  • Utility Partner: Portland General Electric (PGE)
  • Project Partners: Forth, Qmerit, Resilient Edge, Charli Charging, City of Tigard
  • This team plans to streamline installation and interconnection permitting processes by creating more holistic relationships between developers and utilities. Under this system, PGE will be able to pre-approve sites for interconnection based on pre-computed levels of DER
  • deployment on those sites. Watch an overview of their proposed solution. 

Team Simple Thread, Graph the Grid: Modern Hosting Capacity Analysis

  • Utility Partner: Dominion
  • Project Partners: Simple Thread, Right Analytics
  • This team aims to speed up the hosting capacity analysis and visualization process to free up engineers for higher order work for Dominion Energy and their stakeholders. They plan to leverage previously built software products within Dominion in partnership with Simple Thread to accelerate the process of further automating and hosting analysis to comply with FERC Order 2023. Watch an overview of their proposed solution. 

UtilityAPI, Standardizing Vendor Connectivity to Utilities

  • Utility Partner: Silicon Valley Clean Energy
  • Project Partner: LF Energy
  • This team plans to collaborate with technology companies and utilities to develop new standards that streamline third-party vendor registration and connectivity with utilities. Watch an overview of their solution. 

Thank you to all teams who applied for Round 2 of the Digitizing Utilities Prize. Our judges were impressed with the applications submitted and hope each team will continue to apply for American-Made challenges in the future.


New Opportunity: TCF Open Voucher Call Makes Vouchers Redeemable at DOE National Labs Widely Available

May 29, 2024, 12:53 p.m. PDT by NREL Prize Moderator

A new opportunity from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) and the Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) is making $100,000 in vouchers available to everyday innovators who could benefit from the help of national laboratories.  

The $2.1 million TCF Open Voucher Call was created to provide the public with opportunities to receive technical assistance from researchers at U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory facilities. Successful applicants will receive vouchers—valid for testing and validation, use of specialized equipment or software, simulation or modeling, consulting, or various other requests from a National Laboratory—which will ultimately allow them to advance their technologies. It aims to inspire a new generation of innovative researchers and instill a sense of shared responsibility for advancing knowledge and innovation within the scientific community.  

A select number of $100,000 vouchers will be awarded to people with big ideas for advancing clean energy, sustainability, or other key national lab-supported initiatives. The vouchers can be redeemed at one of eight national labs, which will then provide expertise and lab validation capabilities to the awardee to help them advance their concept closer to commercialization.  

Anyone interested in exploring the opportunity is encouraged to join an informational webinar on July 18 at 2 p.m. ET follow the TCF Open Voucher Call on HeroX to stay up to date on upcoming dates, deadlines, and important news. 


Submissions Due TOMORROW

May 6, 2024, 3:37 p.m. PDT by Carlie Ortiz

Hey, competitors! 

TOMORROW, May 7, is the submission deadline for Round 2 of the Digitizing Utilities Prize. The prize administrators highly recommend uploading all materials ahead of the 5 p.m. ET deadline to avoid any potential delays or technical difficulties. We will not accept late submissions. 

Resource Recap

  • Read the Official Rules in their entirety (located in the Resource tab) before submitting any materials.  
  • Post any final questions in the Forum tab and a prize administrator will post a public response if possible.
  • The recording and slides for the March informational webinar are available as a prize refresher. 

We look forward to reviewing all of your submissions! Good luck. 

 

 


Submission Deadline NEXT TUESDAY

May 3, 2024, 3:40 p.m. PDT by Carlie Ortiz

Don't forget next Tuesday, May 7, is the deadline to submit your Digitizing Utilities Prize Round 2 application. The prize administrators highly recommend uploading all materials ahead of the 5 p.m. ET deadline to avoid any potential delays or technical difficulties. 

Resource Reminder

  • 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. 
  • Looking for a refresher on important prize details? The recording and slides for the March informational webinar are posted in the Resources tab. 

We look forward to seeing your submissions soon! 


Submission Reminder + NEW Resources

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

Competitors,

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. 

Questions?

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! 


Forum20
Teams300
Resources
FAQ