By Daniel Komula (’17)
On Friday, January 29, UCLA Anderson’s Energy Management Group hosted the fifth annual Challenges in Energy Case Competition, which drew teams from some of the top business schools from around the country.
This competition had the largest turnout to date, with 12 teams from 10 schools participating, including Rice, Duke, Purdue, UC Berkeley, USC, UCLA, SMU, UC Irvine, Northwestern and Cornell. UCLA Anderson demonstrated its knowledge of the energy industry by winning the competition and taking home the $2,500 prize. The Anderson team, Age of Voltron, consisted of Dan Komula (’17), Arnab Pal (’17) and Ean Mulligan (’17), all active members of the Energy Management Group. This victory continues a tradition of success for UCLA’s Energy Management Group. In late 2015, UCLA won the Ross Renewable Energy Case Competition and a team from UCLA won the fourth annual Challenges in Energy Competition last year.
This year’s competition focused on battery storage in conjunction with solar PV panels on residential homes in the greater Los Angeles area. Teams were tasked with building financial models to calculate value of projects with and without battery storage devices. Using the financial analysis, participants pitched a business model to a software company looking to enter into the battery storage and solar PV panel market. This competition was especially relevant to the California energy markets, as recent legislation has been focused on some of the key issues and topics raised in this competition.
Anderson’s winning proposal offered a truly sustainable solution, providing economic value for the consumer, utility and the community. The business plan addressed the need to meet California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard targets, assist the utility in net load generation through demand response services, and create economic benefits for the residential customers and businesses in the solar and battery industries.
The competition allowed students to network with peer b-school students interested in the energy industry, as well as with judges who represent some of the top companies in the energy industry, such as the title sponsor Southern California Edison, platinum sponsor SolarCity, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Solar Reserve and SolarWorld Americas. Other sponsors of the competition included the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation and the High Tech Business Association. Erik Takayesu, director of electric system planning and modernization for Southern California Edison, delivered the lunchtime keynote address.