Inaugural Innovation Awards presented - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Efficiency, Energy Procurement, Sourcing Renewables  -  March 1, 2018

Inaugural Innovation Awards presented

The inaugural Smart Energy Decisions Innovation Awards were presented at the closing dinner of the Innovation Summit in Austin on Feb. 28.

"We started the Innovation Awards to shine the spotlight on customers and utilities that were doing great work in support of the energy transformation," said John Failla, founder and editorial director of Smart Energy Decisions in his opening remarks. Customer Project Awards were created to recognize outstanding projects in energy efficiency and renewable sourcing, while the Utility Partnership Awards recognize utilities that are effectively enabling customer choice.

The Awards presentation began with an acknowledgment of the judges: Ali Ahmed, principal, Green Strategies LLC; Peter Kelly-Detwiler, principal, NorthBridge Energy Partners; Karl Rabago, executive director, Pace Energy and Climate Center, and Rowena Striff, energy manager, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. "We are fortunate and very grateful to have four veteran energy industry executives serve as judges," said Failla.

The following awards were presented during the event:


The award for Industrial Energy Data Management was presented to Kimberly Clark Corporation for “Lean Energy: Transforming the Culture of Energy Conservation at Manufacturing Sites”  As part of its "Sustainability 2022" strategy, "Lean Energy" is designed to create a culture of energy conservation at mill level, giving ownership and accountability to all mill employees to manage energy at the same level than safety, quality, delivery and cost.  The judges said this project was "The judges say this is an excellent job of incorporating data and people."

The award for Commercial Energy Data Management was presented to IBM for “IBM Smarter Building Solution: Revealing Hidden Energy Saving Opportunities in Buildings in Real-time”  Smarter Buildings combines IBM’s real estate management, software and services expertise with analytics to reveal a building’s hidden failings and to identify opportunities for improvement of building performance and efficiency. Judges called it an innovative way to field all equipment issues under one analytic system checking.

The award for Commercial Energy Efficiency Technology was presented to Kingspan for “Journey to Net Zero Energy”  To achieve their 2020 Net Zero Energy goal, team leaders work hands-on with each of 113 manufacturing sites and usage data is collected monthly to implement a “reduce, generate and buy” strategy. One judge noted that this is more than an Efficiency Technology: it is an approach that starts with the right emphasis, to reduce consumption, and moves to the next logical step, which is onsite generation.  

The award for Industrial Energy Efficiency Technology was presented to Cisco for their “Global EnergyOps Program”  Energy managers develop targeted energy conservation measures in areas determined to be inefficient. The team then implements pilot projects to prove out new technologies. So far, 450+ energy efficiency and onsite renewable energy projects have been implemented as part of the program. The judges say the comprehensive nature of the project, with clear metrics, multi-year objectives, and activities, and defined paths forward make it stand out. 

The award for Energy Storage and Microgrids was presented to LBA Realty for their “Park Place Energy Storage Project”  LBA Realty, Black Bear Energy, and Corporate Sustainable Strategies partnered with Stem to deploy 1.3 MW of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven energy storage at Park Place, a 2.1 million square foot mixed-use corporate complex in Irvine, California. The project is the largest indoor energy storage system in the nation. The judges say this project stands out for the innovative solution on siting and building integration, for use of AI, and for successful execution.

The award for EV Charging Infrastructure was presented to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport for their “Airport EV Infrastructure Project”  The project includes installation of 300 electrical chargers for passenger and employee electrical vehicles throughout the airport, also allowing airlines to convert their gas and diesel chargers to electrical ground service equipment.  The judges say the innovation comes in the fact they are doing all types of vehicles: customer, employee, ground service vehicles, buses.

Offsite Renewable Energy goes to Fruit of the Loom for “Merendon Biomass Power”  Finding no renewable energy sources readily available at their manufacturing facilities in Honduras, Fruit of the Loom established a biomass power generation plant. Power is used internally in their facilities, while excess power is sold to the Honduras national grid. The judges say: Having the commitment to reduce CO2 emissions is one thing. Establishing a biomass plant and coordinating with business partners to make it happen is quite another. This project demonstrates creativity and a proactive approach to problem-solving. 

There was a tie for the Onsite Renewable Energy award. First, the award was presented to California State University/Dominguez Hills for “CSU/DH Provides Grid Relief”  Located in a constrained area of the California grid, the University became the first customer to participate in an innovative load relief program with a combination of artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled energy storage from Stem and demand response from CPower. The judges noted this project as a great example of coupled battery and demand response system and an innovative application of AI to build on prior experience.

The Onsite Renewable Energy award was also presented to Michigan State University for “The Largest Carport Solar Array in North America”  MSU's solar carport array is constructed on five of the university's largest commuter parking lots and covers 5,000 parking spaces.  Created through a PPA, the project provides a renewable power production and energy consumption reduction showcase on campus, where the university's students can study solar photovoltaic and inverter technology, as well as their integration into the micro-grid. The judges called the project audacious and impressive, with innovative finance and execution.


The award for Enabling Customer Offsite Renewable Energy, was presented to Sacramento Municipal Utility District for the “SolarShares Program Redesign for Commercial Customers”  SMUD’s redesign was done to expanded access to solar energy to help its commercial customers reach their renewable energy consumption targets and sustainability goals. Pricing is designed so that non-participating rate-payers do not subsidize the program. The judges note that SMUD’s proactive approach should not surprise anyone—the utility has been on “the cutting edge of new” since the 90s.

The award for Energy Efficiency Incentives went to Eversource for their “Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund.”  This project is a partnership between Eversource and Becton Dickinson to streamline the incentive process while maximizing the allowable incentives thru bundling of energy projects. The judges admired the creation of a long-term partnership and the teamwork needed to meet goals

The award for Green Tariffs goes to Black Hills Energy for their “Large Power Contract Service Tariff.”  Building on a partnership with Microsoft, Black Hills Energy created this tariff, which allowed Microsoft’s data center n Wyoming to procure energy at a market rate while using natural gas backup generators to self-supply capacity.  The market-based energy rate provided Microsoft with the flexibility to build new wind generation that supplied the data center virtually through a financial settlement. The judges noted that Black Hills demonstrated openness and flexibility to make a complex undertaking work. The project clearly demonstrates additionality and has the potential to be emulated. 

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