Terms and Dates:

  • Summer 2018


Gladys Brangman

Cornell Affiliations:

Atkinson Center

Off-campus partner:

Environmental Defense Fund


Opportunity Description

Advance clean energy goals in Illinois and the Midwest as an Atkinson Center-Environmental Defense Fund big data-energy analyst intern within the Midwest Clean Energy Program in EDF's Chicago office.

Clean energy is a critical part of the race to clean up our nation’s power sector, which accounts for 40% of U.S. carbon emissions. Modern sensors, controls, and meters are revolutionizing electricity markets, producing enormous amounts of data that can play a sizable role in lowering carbon emissions from the power grid.

Energy use data has traditionally been held closely by utility companies. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has been trying to access it for years, to help answer important policy questions, unlock innovation, make our grid smarter and cleaner and save customers money. Using this data to guide sound policy, we can greatly expand the amount of clean energy on the electric grid, and drive down carbon pollution while keeping electric bills low.

Stakeholders — rooftop solar companies, energy efficiency providers, non-profit organizations, lenders, researchers, cities — can use the data to identify specific opportunities, such as which neighborhoods and blocks have the greatest potential for money-saving clean energy projects. Private entrepreneurs can take advantage of the new information to develop innovative services and strategies to problems that may not even be visible without such data.

Grid operators can use it to plan for increased solar and wind energy, and to make the grid more efficient, without compromising reliability or affordability. Non-profits such as EDF can use it to explore policies to achieve a low-carbon grid that benefits both customers and the environment. We will develop ideas and evidence to support successful advocacy for marketplaces and policies that reduce climate pollution. And we will ensure that innovations developed by all parties will lead to a cleaner, greener, more reliable, and more affordable power grid.

Key Responsibilities

Under supervision of the Midwest Director for Clean Energy, the intern will work closely with economists, lawyers, media and program staff across the organization to advance EDF Clean Energy goals in Illinois and the Midwest. Overall, the intern will focus on legislative and regulatory barriers to clean energy, with a focus on analyzing newly available energy-usage data in order to develop more effective policies and rate structures. This engagement will help EDF advance two policy issues. First, the intern will help evaluate the monthly savings or bill increases Illinois customers would see from a suite of dynamic energy pricing regimes, including theoretical Time-of-Use (TOU) rates and ComEd’s current Residential Real-Time Pricing (RRTP) program. Second, the intern will help evaluate alternative EV rate designs in order to expand clean-energy electrification and explore the potential for vehicle-to-grid grid services.

EDF seeks to use this energy-usage information to empower stakeholders, including entrepreneurs, utilities and consumers, to create and employ new energy services that lead to greater efficiency, lower costs, healthier air and less pollution. Specifically, the intern will work in Chicago with EDF’s Big Energy Data team to:

  • Conduct analysis to answer key consumer questions using real data
  • Build public-facing tools on pricing, rate design, renewable energy and other issues to allow researchers and the public to interact with the data to explore the effects of changing variables
  • Identify policies that encourage consumers to make efficient and clean energy choices
  • Publicize results through reports, articles, conference presentations, advocacy and targeted outreach
  • Incorporate research findings into advocacy to support climate goals
  • Prompt private-sector firms to utilize the data to identify clean energy opportunities
  • Expand big data access to other states; New York is already considering this approach as part of its Reforming the Energy Vision (REV)) process. Discussions are under way in California, Minnesota and Ohio and, with additional resources, we would advocate for others to follow the Illinois example

10 weeks

Full-time (35 hours/week)

Compensation is $5,000 for the summer term

Dick Munson, Senior Director, Midwest Clean Energy

Please make certain to review the Requirements page prior to applying.