power lines and wind turbines over a solar field at sunset

Boulder, Colorado, April 18, 2017 — Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) today announced its 2017 project team list for its Electricity Innovation Lab (eLab) Accelerator 2017 event. A bootcamp for innovators in the electricity industry, Accelerator has as a proven track record of delivering transformative change across North America.

Accelerator, now in its fourth year, is being held in Sundance, Utah, from April 18–21, 2017. Accelerator is a core event within eLab. Led by RMI, eLab is a unique multiyear collaboration of leading industry actors to develop, implement, and spread new solutions to enable greater adoption of economic distributed energy resources (DERs) in order to create a cleaner and more resilient electricity system.

After the most competitive application process to date, with a 60% increase over 2016 applications, RMI is welcoming the following teams to Accelerator:
  • 100% Renewable Energy Strategy: State-level 100% renewable energy standards will prove a crucial counterweight to the lack of federal support for clean energy. This team will build a strategy to support legislators in accelerating 100% renewable energy standards at the state level across the country. They will equip and empower lawmakers to implement solutions and hope to inspire a core team of champions for the initiative going forward.
  • Charlotte Public Safety Campus Microgrid: The Charlotte Public Safety Campus (CPSC) Microgrid is a proposed solar-plus-storage project located in Charlotte, North Carolina. In the name of creating replicable models for resilient power, this team aims to accelerate the CPSC project and create a replicable model and framework for other critical facilities to implement microgrids across the Carolinas in the future.
  • Community Energy Choice Innovation: Access to clean energy is a fundamental issue. This project aims to demonstrate that community-owned, customer-shared solar projects, in combination with other DERs, can provide economic and environmental benefits to all customers, including low-income customers and small businesses. This team will develop a replicable business model that supports the objectives of expanding access to solar energy for all customers in Sacramento, California, and can become a driver for economic development and environmental benefits within the community.
  • Illinois Energy Future: This team will use the Future Energy Jobs Bill and the NextGrid stakeholder initiative as an opportunity to develop a roadmap for integrating these initiatives into specific pilot and stakeholder-outreach proposals to speed the deployment of clean distributed energy solutions in Illinois.
  • Demand Management in the Nation’s Capital: Responses to peak load growth that are not traditional grid investments are becoming increasingly important. This team is exploring a non-wires alternative project for peak load reduction in Washington, D.C., which will significantly reduce peak energy costs and achieve sustainability goals cost-effectively through DERs.
  • Electrification of Municipal Vehicles in New York: Electrification of public transit will be key to the future of transportation, particularly in places like New York City. This team aims to create a robust plan for an electric bus program for the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority that addresses key barriers to pilot success and scalability.
  • EVs & The Grid: Electric vehicles (EVs) will play a pivotal role in our transportation future. This team—a collaboration between electric mobility companies and utilities—is pursuing a national solution to issues with rate design for DC fast charging of EVs, aiming to develop a new public EV charging rate that could be piloted or implemented after the Accelerator event.
  • GridLab: The provision of information to enhance policy decision-making so that technical grid integration and modernization issues are not seen as barriers is key to a rapid transition to a lower-greenhouse gas future. When a new grid investment like a peaker plant is proposed, it may be controversial, yet local advocates might not have the tools to intervene to effectively advocate for cleaner alternatives to the peaker plant. GridLab aims to change that by quickly matching advocates with experts who can equip them with the right information to intervene in proceedings.
  • Minnesota Evolution: While Minnesota has made progress on EV policy, much more work is needed to accelerate EV adoption at the pace necessary to meet the state’s ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals. This team convenes the most influential EV policy organizations in Minnesota to develop a comprehensive, nationally leading EV policy strategy for the state.
  • Oakland Community Energy Project: This team is developing an innovative DER-based solution to meet Oakland, California’s future reliability needs. The current power plant serving this area is likely to be retired, providing an opportunity to evaluate alternatives to a conventional transmission solution that utilizes a selection of preferred DERs from the broad spectrum available.
  • Renewable Resilient Power for Portland (R2P2): Resiliency in the face of natural disasters and extreme weather events is becoming an ever more pressing problem. Facing a potential massive earthquake in the future, Portland, Oregon, is looking to solar-plus-storage for resiliency. This team will design a replicable planning process for identifying and prioritizing sites for solar-plus-storage as valued by stakeholders, develop the business case for the public sector, and position Portland to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency funding.
  • Scalable DER Pricing Mechanisms: This team will provide a pathway for resolving disputes over net energy metering by developing specific recommendations on how to reform market structures and incorporate market-based pricing mechanisms to determine both utility cost-recovery and compensation for customers who supply products and services to the grid.
  • Sun Shares: The Benefit of Solar at Work, for All: This team is creating a new social enterprise that works with employers to provide their employees with easy access to solar energy—bringing benefits to employers and all levels of employees, particularly low- to moderate-income (LMI) wage earners. The team also seeks to scale the concept.

Expert eLab faculty will be on location throughout the meeting to offer training and insights to Accelerator teams on critical content areas. Faculty expertise includes topics such as regulatory transformation, portfolio design for renewable resources, transition strategies for energy system change, best practices for stakeholder engagement, and venture capital in electricity. eLab faculty are also available throughout the Accelerator meeting to provide specific feedback and coaching to support each team’s project.