Employees from AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR) and students from leading U.S. universities teamed up Friday to tackle energy solutions for tomorrow’s Smart Cities.
“Smart Cities” was the theme of AVANGRID’s 2nd Annual Innovation Challenge, held at the Yale School of Management in New Haven, Connecticut. Teams from cities across AVANGRID’s service territory competed for prizes of over $32,000 — plus an opportunity to have their proposals advanced and implemented by AVANGRID. The event was the culmination of months of research by five teams of AVANGRID employees collaborating with students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale and Cornell.
“As AVANGRID leads the transformation to a more sustainable, clean-energy future, we’ve challenged our employees and partners to provide a vision for the smarter energy infrastructure that our cities and communities will rely on,” said James Torgerson, CEO of AVANGRID. “This is our opportunity to strategically rethink how the energy sector will forge solutions to tomorrow’s challenges — today.”
Each of the five teams pitched business proposals to the audience of AVANGRID executives and academic and business partners highlighting the future role of energy companies in a Smart City. The teams explored the potential impacts of “smart” technology in various urban centers:
- 100 Percent Renewable Energy (Portland, Oregon)
- Smart Data (New Haven, Connecticut)
- Transportation Electrification (Portland, Maine)
- Smarter Power Grids (Ithaca, New York)
- Bulk Clean Energy Solutions for the more than 1,000 cities and towns AVANGRID companies serve.
Each proposal was judged on environmental, social and financial benefits to Smart City residents. The winning team was Charge UP Portland, who proposed a “Vehicle to Grid” pilot project with Portland METRO to develop electric buses that also serve a role in electricity distribution which would maximize benefits to the METRO riders and operations, minimize costs to Central Maine Power customers, balance load and align with the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals. Each member of the winning team will receive a $2,500 cash prize, and the students on the winning team will each receive an additional $10,000 in tuition assistance for 2019.
In addition to Friday’s competition, the event included speakers who addressed innovation and technology in the power and utility sectors. Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew A. Beaton offered a vision for a clean energy future in his state; Paul D. Sclavounos, PhD. Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture at MIT, shared insights on future technology for Offshore Wind; and Rodrigo Canales, Professor of Organizational Behavior at Yale School of Management, presented his research on Design Thinking and the power of reframing how we think about innovation for Agile Organizations.
The Innovation Forum was the culmination of a week of exciting activities, kicked off by the inaugural “ITechSHOWS” at Yale University. The ITechSHOWS brings IT and companies like SAP, IBM, Accenture, Deloitte, ESRI, Cognizant, Wipro and Everis together to share key trends and technologies that drive success at a leading energy company like AVANGRID.
AVANGRID also showcased its key collaborations with top universities.
- MIT startup NeuroMesh, working with AVANGRID partners Cisco Systems and smart meter manufacturer ITRON, presented a proof of concept that utilizes blockchain technology to improve cybersecurity.
- Representatives from Yale’s Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking shared how augmented and virtual reality modeling can be used in the future for microgrid design and utility system operators.
- The winning AVANGRID Challenge student team from the recent MIT Energy Hackathon also shared an energy storage deployment strategy for offshore wind.
Startups from MIT and Yale were also invited to share their ideas to innovate in the energy sector. The startups included:
- Heila Technologies, presenting a customer-centric distributed energy platform (MIT)
- Form Energy, with a tool for energy storage optimization (MIT)
- Raise Green, presenting a financial technology platform for green projects (Yale)
As the U.S. affiliate of the Iberdrola Group, AVANGRID shares the global organization’s commitment to spearheading the digital transformation through innovation.
The following students participated in the Smart Cities Competition:
MIT: Ignacio Ortega Castineiras and Jose D Soto Rivera
Yale University: Jessica Harpole, Sophie Tyack, Sara Harari, and Amanda Faulkner
Cornell University: Venktesh Vidyadhar Katkar, and Azhir Barodawala.
About AVANGRID: AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR) is a leading, sustainable energy company with approximately $32 billion in assets and operations in 24 U.S. states. AVANGRID has two primary lines of business: Avangrid Networks and Avangrid Renewables. Avangrid Networks owns eight electric and natural gas utilities, serving 3.2 million customers in New York and New England. Avangrid Renewables owns and operates 7.1 gigawatts of electricity capacity, primarily through wind power, with a presence in 22 states across the United States. AVANGRID employs approximately 6,500 people. AVANGRID supports the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, received a Climate Development Project climate score of “A-,” the top score received in the utilities sector, and has been recognized for two consecutive years by Ethical Boardroom as the North American utility with the “best corporate governance practices.” For more information, visit www.avangrid.com.