Over 1 million readers this year!

PRECorp wins in Phase 1 of national digitizing utilities competition

The company's team advances to Phase 2.

(Department of Energy)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — Powder River Energy Corp. announced April 18 that it won a national prize from the U.S. Department of Energy.

PRECorp’s team, named “Moonshot,” won $75,000 in Phase 1 of the inaugural American-Made Digitizing Utilities Prize, which connects utilities with teams of software developers and data experts to transform digital systems in the energy sector through data analytics, processing, quality assurance, storage and deletion.

In Phase 1, competitors worked on utility partner challenges to propose software solutions that improve how the energy industry manages, stores and processes data. Judges selected three teams from each of three tracks to receive a $75,000 cash prize and advance to Phase 2 of the competition.

PRECorp competed in Track 3, in which competitors with an existing utility partner identified their own digitization or data challenge and proposed solutions.

PRECorp VP of Engineering Quentin Rogers said in the news release that the competition was an opportunity to gain more funding for a project it’s pursuing.

The PRECorp Team is fine-tuning how the company can use meters’ data collection to detect and issue alerts when voltage doesn’t match expectations for power delivery, to predict failures that could result in an outage, wildfire or power quality decrease, the release said.

“Electrical connections on the grid are mechanical in nature and can deteriorate over time,” Rogers said. “These can ultimately fail and show up as outages or even cause arcing that can lead to a wildfire. The Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI) meters already installed at many utilities provide real-time sensors across the entire distribution system that can provide insight to the issue. Inspection of connections can be difficult and costly to assess with the naked eye or even with specialized tools.”

The DOE said its Office of Electricity gave the nine Phase I winners a total of $675,000, or $75,000 per team. Winners will advance to Phase 2, in which they have six months to work with utility partners to demonstrate how other utilities in the future can use their software solution. Up to three of them can win a portion of a $425,000 cash prize.

“The electric industry sector is facing a massive amount of data from various sources, challenging traditional methods of data acquisition, use, and storage,” Assistant Secretary for Electricity Gene Rodrigues said in the DOE’s announcement. “There is an emerging need to quickly process large data sets to improve reliability and resilience of the electric grid and meet new demands from the integration of renewable energy.”