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
Interestedcompetitors 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.
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.
As the Phase 1 deadline for the Digitizing Utilities Prize approaches, we want to be sure to answer all your final questions. Join us on Thursday, January 12, 2023, from 3-4 p.m. MT for a webinar hosted by our two utility partners: Bonneville Power Administration and Dominion Energy!
Prior to this event, we encourage participants to share questions in the HeroX Challenge Forum under the topic of “Questions for Utilities.”
The Digitizing Utilities Prize administrators have collected several resources to support teams with their Phase 1 submissions. You can find these resources, along with the official prize rules, under the “Resources” section on HeroX.
Grid Signature Library: The Grid Signature Library initiative at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is focused on the development of the well-defined, curated, and free-to-access smart library to increase the resilience and swift response against malfunctions of grid infrastructure.
North American SynchroPhasor Initiative: The mission of the North American SynchroPhasor Initiative (NASPI) is to improve power system reliability and visibility through wide area measurement and control, by fostering the use and capabilities of synchrophasor technology.
Big Data Synchrophasor Analysis: These eight projects supported by the Department of Energy explore the use of big data, artificial intelligence, and machine-learning technology and tools on phasor measurement units data to identify and improve existing knowledge, and to discover new insights and tools for better grid operation and management.
Transmission Reliability Program: The Transmission Reliability Program was established to support collaboration between the national labs, electricity industry, and Department of Energy to develop technologies that keep the nation’s electric grid resilient and secure, while cutting electricity bills and facilitating the integration of renewable energy.
On Tuesday, November 15, Prize Administrators hosted an informational webinar about the Digitizing Prize. This video includes an overview of the prize rules, including who can apply, prizes to win, what to submit, and how entries will be judged. We also answered a few questions about the prize and eligibility requirements.