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Rocky Mountain Institute Announces Project Teams for 2019 e-Lab Accelerator Event

BOULDER, Colorado, April 30, 2019 — Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) today announced its project team list for its Electricity Innovation Lab (e-Lab) Accelerator 2019 event. A facilitated innovation workshop, e-Lab Accelerator has a proven track record of delivering transformative change in the electricity industry across North America. The sixth annual e-Lab Accelerator, being held in Sundance, Utah, April 30–May 3, 2019, is one of e-Lab’s core events. Led by RMI, Accelerator is a unique collaboration of leading industry actors to develop, implement and spread new solutions that enable a rapid transition to a clean, secure, prosperous and equitable electricity system.

“Accelerator brings together teams working on innovative and scalable solutions critical to the electricity system transition,” Coreina Chan, a principal at RMI, said. “By hosting a community of collaboration to create and test high-impact, scalable solutions, we are proud of e-Lab’s success in inspiring innovators and empowering change agents to overcome barriers and drive positive, networked change.”

RMI is welcoming the following 13 project teams, focused on four core topic areas: new business models for utilities and other solutions providers, grid modernization and planning for distributed energy resources (DERs), electrification of buildings and DER adoption at scale.

  • Battery Storage Game Plan: This team, co-led by two member-owned cooperative electric utilities from Minnesota and Colorado, Connexus and United Power, aims to assess use cases for energy storage technologies, with an eye toward applicability for electric cooperatives. The team will prioritize near-term steps for utility and other stakeholder action, and consider policy implications and enablers that can help accelerate the adoption of storage projects that can lower costs and enable clean energy.
  • Decarbonizing Minnesota’s Natural Gas End Uses: While electrification of heating in concert with a decarbonizing electric grid offers benefits for customers and opportunities for emissions reductions, natural gas utilities are exploring innovative business models with the potential to offer their own opportunities. This team, championed by Great Plains Institute, seeks to find common understanding of where different technologies may be most appropriate, and develop a vision of the portfolio of solutions required to decarbonize end uses currently served by natural gas.
  • Decarbonizing the Evening Peak: This team, championed by the Center for Sustainable Energy, is exploring new business models that can enable community choice aggregators (CCA) and utility distribution companies to jointly incentivize flexible, clean DERs that can rapidly achieve scale to effectively displace carbon-based resources used to supply the evening net load peak. Work at Accelerator will allow CCA, utility, third-party aggregator and program administration parties to focus on resolving outstanding questions and provide more unified comments and recommendations to state agencies for program approval.
  • DERs for Wildfire Resilience: The team’s focus will be on using DERs to provide resilience in fire-prone regions. The objective of the Sunrun-championed team is to reduce customer impact from outages, whether operators are serving safety proactively, during a disaster, or after a disaster when infrastructure will take time to repair. DERs for Wildfire Resilience will design an effective demonstration project, which the team hopes should ultimately lead to scalable solutions.
  • Duke Energy Clean Cities Initiative: Duke Energy is championing a team aimed at building productive partnerships between it and North Carolina communities in order to achieve carbon reduction goals in the timeframes set by each city.
  • Energy Shift Pilot Project: The team, led by the HEET non-profit, will refine a pilot project design for the Energy Shift framework, where a gas company in Massachusetts will provide renewable BTUs through street-segment ground-coupled heat pumps to a participating street or community. The team will also consider opportunities to scale beyond the first pilot, giving customers the ability to choose whether to get their renewable energy delivered through wires and/or pipes.
  • Equitable Electrification in Sacramento: The Sacramento Municipal Utility District is leading a team to identify and prioritize strategies for transitioning low- and moderate-income customers in Sacramento, California, to electric space heating, water heating and cooking.
  • Financial Tools Supporting Coal to Clean in Wisconsin: Wisconsin is seeking how to manage an equitable coal-to-clean transition that addresses its utilities’ desire for recovery of their coal plants’ undepreciated balances while minimizing cost impacts on ratepayers. The team, championed by Sierra Club, is exploring whether securitization (or other financial tools) may be a viable and broadly applicable solution.
  • GridMod Squad: US utilities are requesting approval for large investments in the electric distribution system in order to adopt new technologies, improve interoperability and communications, support vehicle and building electrification, incorporate more DERs, and improve grid reliability and resilience. The GridMod Squad, championed by GridLab, will provide new tools for regulators and stakeholders so that they can design regulatory processes and make informed decisions that support their emissions, cost and reliability goals.
  • Great River Energy Comprehensive Planning: The objective of the Great River Energy (GRE)-championed team is to establish a foundation which will allow energy efficiency, demand response, electrification, and other demand-side resources to be optimally accounted for in GRE’s integrated resource-planning process. This foundation would include both principles and best practices for demand-side resource modeling as well as an ongoing dialogue with Minnesota stakeholders.
  • Promoting Texas Non-Wires Solutions: The team, championed by the Texas Advanced Energy Business Alliance, will address the opportunities and challenges specific to Texas with respect to non-wires solutions, and identify policy solutions to address those opportunities and challenges.
  • Rhode Island’s Building Electrification Strategic Transformation: In order to reach Rhode Island’s goal of a cleaner, more efficient heating sector, the team—championed by the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources—will work to design a program and coordination strategy that supports the rapid deployment of heat pumps in the Ocean State. The project will focus on creating a program and strategy that ensures proper heat pump usage, optimal energy savings, ratepayer cost savings, and customer satisfaction.
  • Solar and Storage for Disadvantaged Communities: This team, championed by Southern California Edison, will explore the development of a behind-the-meter solar plus storage program for low- and moderate-income households, both to generate savings for participating households as well as to create net benefits for all Southern California Edison customers from flexible load control.

Expert e-Lab faculty and RMI staff will be on location throughout the meeting to offer feedback, coaching and support to e-Lab Accelerator teams on critical project 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 capital transition in electricity.

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About Rocky Mountain Institute

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)—an independent nonprofit founded in 1982—transforms global energy use to create a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future. It engages businesses, communities, institutions, and entrepreneurs to accelerate the adoption of market-based solutions that cost-effectively shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. RMI has offices in Basalt and Boulder, Colorado; New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Beijing.

CONTACT:

Todd Zeranski
Marketing Manager, Rocky Mountain Institute
Tel: 917-670-6568
Email: tzeranski@rmi.org