2021 Cohort

2021

Buzz Solutions (Palo Alto, CA) - Artificial intelligence, actionable insights, and predictive analytics for power line and grid inspections.

Project Description 
How can AI support automated inspection?  In this project, EPRI and Buzz Solutions will leverage AI to review drone-collected, distribution inspection imagery.  AI systems that can automate this review process can potentially save utilities time and cost.  However, there are unknowns related to efficiency improvements as well as prediction quality.  Utility inspectors will interact with Buzz Solutions’ Power AI software.  EPRI intends to investigate the quality of these AI-based predictions and study the efficiency impact of the PowerAI tool.

Community Energy Labs (Portland, OR) Grid-smart building controls that enable commercial building owners and facility managers to upgrade and autonomously operate clean, affordable, all-electric buildings without sacrificing occupant comfort, or disrupting power markets or the grid.

Project Description  
The project with Community Energy Labs seeks to demonstrate a building’s energy flexibility during operations through building energy management systems (BEMS) by cultivating a deeper understanding of how building owner and end-user preferences, demographics, and goals interact with building systems, envelope, and other actors, with schools in California.  Observations from this project will form the basis for learning algorithms and optimization objectives tailored to specific customer personas and market segments to more reliably predict and shape building loads.  Furthermore, the team seeks to optimize energy cost (demand charges and energy) and electrification goals for commercial customers with limited budget and staffing.

Copper Labs (San Francisco, CA) Wireless energy monitor that delivers consumption and power quality data from electric, gas, and water meters so utilities can engage consumers with actionable insights for demand management, electrification, grid planning, and distribution network health monitoring.

Project Description 
How can advanced metering infrastructure be leveraged for real-time insights on customer energy use? Copper Labs has developed a wireless energy monitor that can connect with electricity, gas, and water meters and measure local voltage to provide utilities with high-resolution data in real-time. This project seeks to evaluate how these insights can impact customer energy use in behavioral demand response programs. Additional data on local voltage and gas usage will be assessed for its potential to inform grid operations and electrification. The proposed project would involve a pilot test with 750 PGE customers with AMI meters that are participating in behavioral demand response. Pilot testing depends on integrating and validating Copper Labs’ backend with PGE’s metering infrastructure, which may delay project launch.

Datch (San Francisco, CA)  -  Voice AI technology engineered specifically for the industrial workforce to interface with enterprise databases.

Project Description   
Voice assistant software is playing a larger role in our daily lives and is showing promise in industrial use cases. How can electric utilities harness the power of this technology to improve workforce efficiencies, enhance safety, and increase adherence to procedures? Con Edison and EPRI are exploring this question with Datch. Con Edison will work with Datch, who has experience in various industries, to integrate their voice assistant software into one of Con Edison’s work planning applications to enable their planners to dictate work order requirements via a mobile device. The demonstration project will aim to replace manual and sometimes duplicative tasks and provide Con Edison and the project team the opportunity to work through voice assistant software integration requirements and processes.

DCSix Technologies (Cork, Ireland) An energy monitoring platform that reduces energy bills and encourages the pursuit of more sustainable energy use.

Project Description 
How can a low-income community benefit from a circuit-level energy monitoring service? SCE and EPRI will work with DCSix Technologies to install their energy monitoring equipment (Wattrics) at a multifamily residential complex in Willowbrook, CA. Wattrics will provide visibility to all sub-meter energy use in the common areas, community building, and within many resident's apartments. DCSix’s cloud-based platform will use data analytics to determine the potential to improve energy efficiency, reduce energy costs, and reduce carbon emissions through behavioral changes or technology improvements. The front end of the Wattrics system will be available for the property manager, the dashboard will use targeted data insights to illustrate how energy is used throughout the community and identify where there is scope to reduce energy costs. The back end of Wattrics will be used to understand how upcoming Time-of-Use rates could affect resident energy bills, with insights drawn on how residents can avoid the increased costs. EPRI will investigate all other potential use cases of the Wattrics platform to leverage reliable and granular circuit-level data analytics to improve a building's energy efficiency, costs, and carbon footprint.

Design Interactive (Orlando, FL) - Augmented Reality application that empowers experts to transfer knowledge, by making content easily authored by front-line employees. No software engineers are needed.

Project Description 
A fast-growing market is training & education (T&E) for people in an electric industry culture where change has become ubiquitous.   As a result, new tools are being introduced to make the T&E process more effective and efficient for learners thereby accelerating the learning experience and making the experience a good one.  These T&E platforms are facilitating distance learning formats which are commonly referred to as virtual or remote exposures.  Consequently, new software platforms are emerging to host training materials to facilitate and improve the entire T&E process.  Consolidated Edison is sponsoring Design Interactive’s AUGMENTOR™ software, an instructor-led and self-guided training platform that is enhanced by augmented reality.   The product will be demonstrated as a potentially more effective alternative delivery platform to traditional PowerPoints, and instructional videos to aid in the distance learning format.  Previously developed materials by Consolidated Edison will be hosted by AUGMENTOR and Consolidated Edison instructors will live stream a classroom experience using the ClassroomXR™ feature.  AUGMENTOR™’s ClassroomXR™ feature supports a simple engagement configuration with class participants whereby only the instructor wears a HoloLens 2 – there is no lens required by class participants.  Our use case for the software demonstration is a cable splicing protocol training session needed by Consolidated Edison for its field crews.  The project will assess the learning effectiveness and costs of implementation for the AUGMENTOR software.

Dynamhex (Baltimore, MD) Energy data API platform that pulls on a national GHG inventory to visualizes complex energy consumption and emissions data for individual, corporate, and government entities.

Project Description 
With many states, cities, local jurisdictions, and corporations setting up their own decarbonization goals, the role of buildings as a lever in ensuring economy-wide decarbonization is gaining in importance. At the same time, utilities which run energy efficiency, demand response, and other energy conservation customer programs are ideally positioned to work alongside with states, city, and corporations to help align their program offerings with decarbonization goals. Dynamhex, Ameren, and EPRI teamed up to address how Ameren’s customer programs are helping to decarbonize the buildings sector in Missouri and Illinois using Dynamhex’s Decarbonization-as-a-Service platform. The platform presents a unique way to understand how buildings can contribute to decarbonization. By analyzing the carbon footprint of the building stock at the city and county levels using a variety of energy efficiency and demand flexibility measures while taking customer demographics, equity, and social justice into account the platform helps to optimize customer program rollout for Ameren.

enerbrain (Turin, Italy) AI-powered software that optimizes HVAC energy consumption for sustainable, comfortable, and efficient buildings.

Project Description 
The demonstration with enerbrain is aimed at developing a scalable plug & play solution for monitoring and control of HVAC systems. The project will test enerbrain’s AI algorithm to optimize buildings’ energy use and indoor comfort conditions while enabling remote real-time monitoring and control.  Part of the enerbrain solution will be tested in EPRI Charlotte building 3 to control small independent AC Units, with the goal to generate energy savings while maintaining the comfort levels. The demonstration is focused on the electrical rooms of building 3 to minimize the impacts of no/low occupancy in the office spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eneryield (Gothenburg, Sweden) Machine learning algorithms for intelligent energy analytics and control of electricity flow.

Project Description 
Eneryield is a young company specializing in bring Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to bear on existing utility data streams. In this project, EPRI is working with NYPA to see if Eneryield’s AI/ML techniques can help in predicting failures in a 26 miles underground/underwater cable.

Future Grid (Melbourne, Australia) SaaS "toolkit" to address the power quality challenges caused by renewable technology.

Project Description 
Worldwide, the increasing use of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) has resulted in much more comprehensive and fine-grained measurements at many more points on the distribution network than had ever been gathered before.  Turning this mountain of AMI data into actionable insights is the goal of this project.  Using the Software as a Service (SaaS) Future Grid Toolkit, the team, with FortisBC, Vermont Electric Co-Op, Future Grid, and EPRI, is going to explore is the detection and location of electric vehicles (EVs), photovoltaics (PVs), the detection and analysis of power quality anomalies, and the assessment of potential transformer health, overloading, and fault detection.  Using these tools will help both FortisBC and Vermont Electric Co-Op prepare for increasing deployment of systems and devices to meet the goals of a decarbonized grid using renewable resources.

HeyCharge  (Munich, Germany) Device to enable electric car charging for apartments and garages.

Project Description 
How can you provide electric vehicle charging where you need access control and fee collection but do so with a low overhead cost? Can you do so without the expense of a dedicated live network connection?  HeyCharge has developed a solution based on the use of consumer smartphones as the data transport mechanism for managed charging that eliminates the need for a live network connection to the charging hardware while still providing for fee collection and user authentication.  This project seeks to explore the efficiencies gained and the challenges associated with the use of the HeyCharge technology approach with real-world testing.  Through a lab-based demonstration at an EPRI facility, the team of Ameren, Tucson Electric Power, and EPRI will assess the installation, operation, charging consumer interface, and back-office tools provided with the HeyCharge system.

Indow (Portland, OR) Window inserts that press into existing window frames to bring energy efficiency without requiring window replacement.

Project Description 
There are millions of underperforming windows in the United States, especially in older buildings. Some windows do not even fully seal the opening, allowing for cold drafts to discomfort occupants and increase energy bills. Indow’s new Indow Kit is a window insert that presses inside the window frames with no mounting bracket to block drafts 100%, reduce noise up to 70%, and lower heating and cooling energy bills up to 20%. This new concept is lower cost and is more flexible than Indow’s previous solution. The new Indow Kit also reduces shipping components and makes measuring the windows simpler. TVA and EPRI are working with Indow to demonstrate their new Indow Kit product in 20 disadvantaged/low-income homes in Tennessee to understand pre-installation requirements, installation best practices, customer satisfaction, and energy savings.

LiveEO (Berlin, Germany) Satellite imagery and software to provide innovative infrastructure monitoring.

Project Description 
Near-real-time and widespread assessment of storm damage have long been a desire by electric utilities. Ameren, FortisBC, and EPRI plan to work with LiveEO to use high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite imagery (3 m and 0.5 m resolution) to detect changes along rights-of-way for more timely situational awareness following damaging weather events. The research and demonstration will analyze the speed and accuracy of AI-based algorithms. The speed aspect will look at the acquisition of the before- and after-storm images and the time to analyze the imagery data. The utilities will document damage sustained during the storm to compare to the damage prediction. The project will explore 2 major storm events, one for each utility, that affect a designated area of 600 km2 for each utility.

Microgrid Labs (Boulder, CO) Comprehensive power management and control systems for industrials, utilities, and microgrids.

Project Description 
Transitioning from traditional to electric mobility is a capital-intensive process as electric vehicles are more expensive and need additional investments to develop the required charging infrastructure. These projects are also complicated by the several factors that influence their design, cost, and performance. This project with Microgrid Labs is to provide technology services and support for EPRI’s research into potentially lower-cost methods of providing fleet electric vehicle feasibility studies and system design. The main interest of this research is to determine the efficiencies gained and the challenges associated with the use of Microgrid Labs’ technology, EVOPT, in a real-world setting.

Noteworthy AI (Stanford, CT) Real-time inspection and inventory for distribution assets.

Project Description 
Utility workers drive fleet vehicles every day.  What if these vehicles capture imagery of overhead infrastructure as they drive?  In this demonstration, Noteworthy AI with the support of FirstEnergy will install, demonstrate, and test a vehicle-mounted imaging solution.  Leveraging AI, utilities may be able to leverage these field-collected images to support inspection, inventory, and monitoring.  In this demonstration, EPRI intends to evaluate the quality of inspection data and perform AI-based predictions.

Pano AI   (San Francisco, CA) Powers actionable intelligence for fire professionals with ultra-high-definition, 360° Pano Cam networks, and AI-powered wildfire detection.

Project Description 
How can computer vision be better leveraged in the early detection and response to wildfires? The Pano AI project seeks to demonstrate how their web portal and alert center, in concert with customizable information layers and strategically located panoramic cameras, may automatically detect, and provide geospatial logistics on fire ignition incidents. During high risk of fire days and seasons, the faster a fire event can be detected, geographically located, and responded to, the greater the opportunity to respond and limit the fire’s ability to spread. The Pano AI project seeks to improve (speed to detection) time and simultaneously use artificial intelligence to filter out false positives such as clouds and fog. Specific performance indicators will be monitored to better understand the potential of leveraging strategically located 360-degree view cameras. The performance indicators will help to answer questions such as; how does the platform improve net fire detection time, how does the simultaneous use of multiple cameras reduce false-positive rates, and can we expand existing imagery capabilities to provide 24/7 detection awareness during all weather and light/dark conditions.

Shifted Energy (Honolulu, HI)  - Automated system that manages residential and commercial appliances to support load shaping across the electrical grid.

Project Description 
Water heating is a large emitter, and electrification of this service is a sizeable wedge of the decarbonization path. New electric water heaters will predominantly be of the heat pump variety, but there is also a legacy of electric resistance heaters. Electric utilities stand to benefit from this transition because this growing electric load is inherently associated with energy storage. However, managing this load while ensuring continued customer satisfaction is challenging because one cold shower could put an end to the use of this device as a controllable load. Shifted Energy’s machine learning algorithms are very efficient at learning customer water heating profiles and can harness this knowledge to provide a utility or an aggregator with an accurate forecast of the load, along with an accurate accounting of the flexibility available. In this project, sponsored by EPRI’s AI initiative, we plan to compare the performance of a fleet of hundreds of water heaters managed by Shifted Energy’s algorithm with that of a control group.

ThermoAI (Binghamton, NY) - AI-powered, smart controls for power plants to minimize emissions and maximize efficiency.

Project Description
How can cybersecurity defenders detect attacker’s tactics, techniques, and procedures once they have gained access to an industrial control system network?  Cyber attackers can have access to networks for several months before being detected by cybersecurity teams.  They can also affect the operator view panels to make them appear normal, even when the physical system is operating in an unsafe condition.  Even minor changes to operational setpoints can have a damaging impact.  EPRI is collaborating with ThermoAI to develop machine learning and artificial intelligence approaches to detect these types of cyberattacks.  Early detection of attacks allows responders to take action to minimize the impact of the attack. 

Urban Electric Power (Pearl River, NY) - Zinc manganese dioxide battery technology for stationary storage.

Project Description 
Energy storage adoption continues to grow at a rapid pace and is a crucial component for grid flexibility and to support renewable energy adoption. However, commercially available energy storage technologies present cost, performance, safety, and availability challenges in scaling to meet global demand. Urban Electric Power (UEP) is addressing this need with its patented rechargeable alkaline battery technology. This battery transforms the traditional primary alkaline battery, trusted globally for use in homes and electronic devices, into a rechargeable battery for energy storage applications. The UEP battery combines unparalleled safety with strong performance while utilizing low-cost, earth-abundant raw materials. UEP batteries can be scaled into energy storage systems of multiple sizes and are compatible with commercially available power electronics. UEP is building a 60kWh energy storage system for testing at EPRI’s SolarTAC facility in Aurora, Colorado. This system is the UEP energy storage building block and will have performance indicative of larger-scale systems.

WexEnergy LLC (Rochester, NY) Interior-mounted window insulation panel that keeps the heat inside during cold weather and outside during warm weather.

Project Description
Windows is the most porous component of the building envelope, and single-pane windows are the worst offenders. WexEnergy’s new Solar-Control WindowSkin is an interior-mounted window retrofit reducing energy loss of windows. At a small fraction of the cost of window replacements, Solar Control WindowSkin adds a layer of insulation to existing windows and reduces solar heat gain. WindowSkin targets aging and underperforming windows that are 20+ years old and no longer as energy efficient as when first installed. TVA and EPRI are working with WexEnergy to demonstrate their new Solar-Control WindowSkin product in 20 disadvantaged/low-income homes in Tennessee to understand pre-installation requirements, installation best practices, customer satisfaction, and energy savings.