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American-Made Challenges

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Digitizing Utilities Prize

Round 2 is now open for submissions: www.herox.com/DigitizingUtilitiesRound2

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Summary

Overview

Exciting news! Round 2 of the Digitizing Utilities Prize is coming soon! Read more about the prize on HeroX, and don't forget to follow the Round 2 page, even if you're following the Round 1 page. Past competitors are encouraged to apply with new ideas and updated materials. 

 

The Digitizing Utilities Prize

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Electricity launched the $1.1-million Digitizing Utilities Prize to connect utilities with interdisciplinary teams of software developers and data experts to transform digital systems in the energy sector through data analytics, processing, quality assurance, storage, and deletion.

Recent advancements in the energy industry have enabled utilities to collect more data than ever before, challenging traditional methods of data acquisition, use, and storage. The Digitizing Utilities Prize supports competitors as they work directly with utility partners to develop software solutions to improve how the energy industry manages, stores, and processes these large data sets.

This Digitizing Utilities Prize supports DOE’s commitment to accelerating research, development, and demonstration of new technologies and tools within the electricity sector to advance reliability, resilience, and affordable operation of the power system.

 

Plan and Progress Phases

The Digitizing Utilities Prize supports competitors as they work directly with utility partners to develop software solutions through two phases: Plan and Progress. This approach will drive accelerated development of the most promising ideas.

Phase 1 – Plan: Teams of developers (e.g., software developers, automation engineers, data scientists) will form robust teams that are willing to solve one of the utility issues presented. Teams must demonstrate that they have an understanding of the problem and propose how they would solve the problem.

Up to nine winners of Phase 1 will receive a cash prize of $75,000. 

Phase 2 – Progress: Winning teams will work with the utility partners over six months to implement their proposed solution by developing a software solution that addresses the issues presented by the utilities. Teams must demonstrate how their methods and process could be utilized by other utilities in the future.

Up to four winners of Phase 2 will receive a portion of the $425,000 total cash prize pool. 

 

Prize Tracks and Utility Partners

Interested competitors may choose to collaborate with one of the predetermined industry partners supporting the Digitizing Utilities Prize or select a separate utility and existing digitization or data challenge for their proposal. Submissions must identify which of the following tracks their proposal aims to support. 

Track 1 – Load Modeling (Bonneville Power Administration)

Competitors will use load modeling to help correctly forecast future power demands, specifically addressing the dynamic nature of weather-sensitive loads for residential and commercial buildings. 

Track 2 – Data Analysis Automation (Dominion Energy)

Competitors will propose methods for automation of data analysis to help engineers scrutinize and evaluate a data-driven approach to resolving nuanced complexities across the system.

Track 3 – Competitor-Identified Challenge

Teams with an existing utility partner may apply with their own digitization or data challenge and proposed solution. Eligible topics are outlined in the official prize rules. 

 

Competitor and Technology Eligibility 

The Digitizing Utilities Prize is open to private entities (for-profit and nonprofit), and non-federal government entities (such as states, counties, tribes, and municipalities, academic institutions, and individuals) in the U.S. Employees of the predetermined track challenges (Track 1 and 2) are ineligible to apply. Teams participating in Track 3 can be led by a utility or an independent with a preexisting utility partnership. 

For more information, including complete eligibility requirements, please review the official prize rules. 

View Prize Rules for more information


Guidelines

Please review the official rules for the complete submission process and instructions for participating. 

 

Timeline
Updates10

Challenge Updates

NOW OPEN: Digitizing Utilities Prize Round 2

Oct. 31, 2023, 9:15 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

After a successful launch and impressive influx of skilled applicants, the Digitizing Utilities Prize is back for Round 2! This round of the $1.85 million prize will continue to connect utilities with interdisciplinary teams of software developers and data experts to transform digital systems and data analytics for utilities in the energy sector.  

New to this round, competitors will have the opportunity to address cybersecurity threats and risks with demonstrated improvements in risk identification, analysis, prediction, or proactive response for enhanced protection of digital energy infrastructures. 

A picture containing text, person, person, scene

Description automatically generatedThis 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. 

Phase 1 – Plan  

Competitors will identify a utility partner and demonstrate a thorough understanding of the utility’s presented problem, as well as their ability to access relevant resources that can be leveraged for this prize. The teams will then define their approach and plan of action to solve the issue presented by the partner utility.  

Track 

# of Winners 

Prize Amount 

Track 1: Utility Digitization/Data Challenge 

Up to 8 

$75,000 cash prize each 

Track 2: Utility Cybersecurity Challenge 

Up to 6 

$75,000 cash prize each 

Sign up today for the Phase 1 Informational Webinar on Nov. 16 at 12 p.m. ET. 

Timeline

Description automatically generated 

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 Winners 

Prize Amount 

Track 1: Utility Digitization/Data Challenge 

Up to 3 

$200,000 cash prize each 

Track 2: Utility Cybersecurity Challenge 

Up to 1 

$200,000 cash prize 

Next Steps 

  • Follow the Digitizing Utilities Prize Round 2 HeroX page to stay up to date on all announcements, deadlines, and more. (You should follow the Round 2 page even if you’re following the Digitizing Utilities Prize Round 1 page.) 
  • Sign up for the Phase 1 Informational Webinar on Nov. 16 at 12 p.m. to learn more about the prize, submission requirements, and competitor eligibility.  
  • Read the Official Rules to learn more about the prize.  

Submissions close February 2024. 


Congratulations to the Phase 2 Winners!

Sept. 25, 2023, 8:12 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE's) Office of Electricity (OE) today announced the Phase 2 winners of the American-Made Digitizing Utilities Prize. This $1.1 million prize connected utilities with interdisciplinary teams of software developers and data experts to transform digital systems in the energy sector through data analytics, processing, quality assurance, storage, and deletion. 

“Ongoing advancements in information and communications technologies have enabled utilities to collect more data than ever before,” said Dr. Roshi Nateghi, DOE Program Manager. “The solutions brought forth by these winning teams will provide new, out-of-the-box ways of managing the influx of large datasets and deriving actionable information for the electric industry to continue to improve the reliability and resilience of the nation’s grid.”  

This two-phase prize empowered competitors to challenge traditional methods of data acquisition and storage, while collaborating in real time with industry partners. In Phase 1, teams were asked to propose software solutions for one of three predetermined tracks: load modeling, data analysis automation, or a competitor-identified challenge with an existing utility partner. 

From the solutions proposed, judges selected three teams from each track—nine in total—to receive a $75,000 cash prize and advance to Phase 2. The second phase of this prize allowed teams to work directly with utility partners to implement their proposals and demonstrate how other utilities could use their software solution in the future. 

One team from each track will receive $100,000 in cash prizes. From these finalists, one grand prize winner will receive an additional $125,000 prize for the winning solution.  


 

Track 1 – Load Modeling 

Competitors worked with Bonneville Power Administration to use load modeling to help correctly forecast future power demands, specifically addressing the dynamic nature of weather-sensitive loads for residential and commercial buildings. The Track 1 winner is Cadmus from Arlington, VA. 

The Data Wave of the Future: This team used machine-learning modeling techniques to provide insights into the distribution network to characterize weather-sensitive loads. This team also used a distributed computing platform to run the models and develop workflows to process and organize the data.   

Track 2 – Data Analysis Automation 

Competitors worked with Dominion Energy to propose methods for the automation of data analysis to help engineers scrutinize and evaluate a data-driven approach to resolving nuanced complexities across the system. The Track 2 winner is ScaLaDE (Scalable Labeling for Data Enrichment) from Princeton, NJ. 

Scalable Labeling for Data Enrichment: This team used machine learning to enrich large datasets with event labels by incorporating domain knowledge from power system experts.  

Track 3 – Competitor-Identified Challenge 

Competitors with an existing utility partner identified their own digitization or data challenge and proposed solutions. The Track 3 winner is Electrify USA from Riverside, CA. 

Expedite Integration of EV in Distribution System: Electrify USA developed an integrated and data-driven planning platform that predicts feeder-level electric vehicle adoption, forecasts charging profiles, and analyzes impacts on the distribution network.  

Grand Prize Winner 

Each of these winning proposals demonstrated innovative solutions to challenges in the energy industry, but one team stood out among the rest. For the strength of their proposed solution and progress made during Phase 2, DOE selected Electrify USA as the Digitizing Utilities Grand Prize Winner.  

Find Additional Prizes and Challenges 

This prize, and others like it, supports DOE’s commitment to accelerating research, development, and demonstration of new technologies and tools within the electricity sector to advance reliability, resilience, and affordable operation of the power system. Stay tuned for more information by following the Digitizing Utilities Prize on HeroX. 

Visit AmericanMadeChallenges.org for more information on additional funding opportunities and upcoming prizes. 


Phase 1 Winners Announced!

March 9, 2023, 9:31 a.m. PST by Prize Administrator

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE's) Office of Electricity (OE) today announced the nine Phase 1 winners of the inaugural American-Made Digitizing Utilities Prize. This $675,000 prize – $75,000 for each team – connects utilities with interdisciplinary teams of software developers and data experts to transform digital systems in the energy sector through data analytics, processing, quality assurance, storage, and deletion.  

“The electric industry sector is facing a massive amount of data from various sources, challenging traditional methods of data acquisition, use, and storage,” said Gene Rodrigues, Assistant Secretary for Electricity. “There is an emerging need to quickly process large data sets to improve reliability and resilience of the electric grid and meet new demands from the integration of renewable energy.”  

Phase 1 of the Digitizing Utilities Prize invited developers to solve predetermined utility challenges. Competitors worked on utility partner challenges within one of three tracks to propose software solutions that improve how the energy industry manages, stores, and processes data. Judges selected three teams from each track — nine in total — to receive a $75,000 cash prize and advance to Phase 2 of the competition where they will have the opportunity to work directly with the partner utilities.

Track 1 – Load Modeling 

Competitors worked with Bonneville Power Administration to use load modeling to help correctly forecast future power demands, specifically addressing the dynamic nature of weather-sensitive loads for residential and commercial buildings. The Track 1 winners are: 

  • Load Forecast Using Autoencoder and Regression (Rolla, MO) – Missouri University of Science and Technology and Grid Vision Technologies aims to estimate load composition and forecast load-using machine learning and regression methods. 
  • The Data Wave of the Future (Arlington, VA) – This team will use machine-learning modeling techniques to provide insights into the distribution network to characterize weather-sensitive loads. This team will use a distributed computing platform to run the models and develop workflows to process and organize the data. 
  • Occam.ai (Seattle, WA) – This team provides analytics and highly configurable scenario-based forecasts using a unified, easy-to-use interface. It will allow users to upload location-specific historical data, analyze the current system, design future scenarios, and share results with other planners and stakeholders. 

Track 2 – Data Analysis Automation 

Competitors worked with Dominion Energy to propose methods for the automation of data analysis to help engineers scrutinize and evaluate a data-driven approach to resolving nuanced complexities across the system. The Track 2 winners are: 

  • Toward Real-Time High-Sampling-Rate Monitoring (Chattanooga, TN) – This team is developing data analytics functions using phasor measurement unit and point-on-wave data for asset diagnostics and performance evaluation systems. 
  • Automatility (Cary, NC) – This team is developing a modular, platform-agnostic systems integrator focused on utility needs for data integrity, transformation, visualization, historical analysis, and alarm thresholding. 
  • ScaLaDE – Scalable Labeling for Data Enrichment (Princeton, NJ) – This team uses machine learning to enrich large datasets with event labels by incorporating domain knowledge from power system experts. 

Track 3 – Competitor-Identified Challenge 

Competitors with an existing utility partner identified their own digitization or data challenge and proposed solutions. The Track 3 winners are: 

  • Expedite Integration of EV in Distribution System (Riverside, CA) – This team is developing an integrated and data-driven planning platform that predicts feeder-level EV adoption, forecasts charging profiles and analyzes impacts on the distribution network. 
  • Digitizing Distribution System Model Validation (Orlando, FL) – This partnership between the University of Central Florida and Duke Energy Corporation is developing a system to identify the root causes of model mismatch by combining domain knowledge with first principles and data analytics.  
  • Leverage AMI Data with ML to Mitigate Wildfires (Gillette, WY) – This team will use machine learning to review voltage and load interval data from smart meters to detect physical connection issues to mitigate wildfires. 

In Phase 2 of the Digitizing Utilities Prize, these Phase 1 winning teams will have six months to work with utility partners to implement their proposal and demonstrate how other utilities in the future could use their software solution. Up to four winners of Phase 2 will receive a portion of the $425,000 total cash prize pool.


Reminder - Prize Deadline Tomorrow (January 26)

Jan. 25, 2023, 1:48 p.m. PST by NREL Prize Administrator

All Digitizing Utilities Phase 1 - Plan submissions are due tomorrow, Thursday, January 26th at 5:00 p.m. ET.

The Official Rules and submission template can be found in the Resources section of HeroX

Be sure to upload your completed submission well before the deadline to avoid potential delays that may arise due to technical difficulties. Submissions will not be accepted after 5 p.m. ET.

We look forward to receiving your submission.


Watch the Q&A with Utility Partners

Jan. 13, 2023, 2 p.m. PST by Prize Administrator

On Thursday, January 12, 2023, the Digitizing Utilities team hosted a Q&A session with our two utility partners: Bonneville Power Administration and Dominion Energy. If you missed the webinar, the recording is now available. 


Forum13
Teams204
Entries
Resources
FAQ