In early December, I put out a call to the online energy professionals community to find participants for the world’s first Fantasy Energy League. Perhaps I saw the pending end of the 2018 fantasy football season and I wanted something to fill the coming void, or maybe I was just curious to see who else wanted to approach energy projections from a gamified lens. Either way, I put out my energy-industry bat signal for the Fantasy Energy League only to see my email inbox and my Twitter feed blow up.
People seemed really excited for this idea, and before I knew it I had a full league of 14 teams who were already talking smack (not trash—this is a crowd committed to minimizing waste) to each other on social media!
So, this article will present a draft preview laying out the exact format and unveiling the teams involved. And even if you’re too late to officially join this first season of the Fantasy Energy League, then you can follow along, think about what choices you would make, and see how you’d compare with the teams who are actually participating.
Without further ado, let’s pump up the high-energy Jock Jams and get started!
I outlined the general expected rules under which the league would operate in my initial article, but those rules have been refined a bit based on conversations with league members, so they warrant a review. Season 1 of the Fantasy Energy League will center on EIA’s State Carbon Emissions Data, an annually released set of data that provides measures of CO2 emissions in each state (and DC) broken out by sector (residential, commercial, industrial, transportation, and electric power).
Each participating team will assemble a roster of five state/sector combinations (e.g., California’s transportation sector could be one and New Jersey’s commercial sector could be another), and the goal of these picks will be for their roster to demonstrate the greatest decrease in overall carbon emissions from the data released in October 2018 (which represents 2016 emissions) to the data that will be released in October 2019 (representing 2017 emissions). A few restrictions will make this a bit trickier, though:
- Each state/sector combination can only be selected by one team, so once the New Jersey commercial sector is selected by one team then it’s off the table for the others (with 14 teams participating, teams will quickly have to get cleverer than just selecting California or other populous states);
- Each team must have a representative from each of the five sectors in their five total selections (there’s no loading up on just one sector that you thought had a great amount of emissions reductions from 2016 to 2017, each pick will be from a different sector); and
- No team can have more than one sector of a single state (again, this rule will force teams to be a bit creative and strategic in their selections).
After some feedback, the Fantasy Energy League will also implement the following wrinkles:
For a period of two weeks after the conclusion of the draft, teams will have the ability to conduct trades. Final rosters after a trade need not follow the previous restrictions, meaning teams can trade to end up with multiple state/sector combinations that fall under the same state or the same sector. If any teams want to get so creative as to trade an uneven amount of state/sector combinations (e.g., completing a 2-for-1 where one team ends up with six state/sector combinations and another ends up with four) then that will be allowed as well. But the end goal remains for the total aggregate emissions of a team’s rostered state/sectors to drop the greatest amount from one year to the next.
Wildcard Percentage Factor
Some participants expressed interest in incentivizing the picking of states that make great strides in percentage reduction rather than just absolute reductions. Doing so allows for a deeper dive into dark-horse candidate small states that don’t have the opportunity for as large of an absolute decrease. To prompt such selections, there will be a percentage decrease wildcard factor!
*Cue gameshow noises and flashing lights*
What this means is that the state/sector from each team that sees the greatest percentage drop in emissions from one year to the next will represent that team’s wildcard percentage factor that will inflate their final score. For example, the greatest percentage drop of any state/sector from 2015 to 2016 was New Hampshire’s electric power sector dropping from 3.5 million metric tons of CO2 to 2.4 million metric tons, a 32% decrease. If a team had New Hampshire electric power sector (small state/sector in absolute terms) on their roster and their team’s aggregate emissions reductions were 4.0 million metric tons, then their percentage wildcard factor of 32% would boost their final rating by 32% for a final score of 5.3 million metric tons. That way teams are encouraged to find these hidden gems, but they mustn’t forget that the goal of climate policy is to reduce total aggregate emissions.
Source: Obama White House
Through these selections, teams will be essentially selecting states based on their assessment of how certain energy policy measures, market trends, or technological developments in different states across the country from 2016 to 2017 successfully minimized carbon emissions. As such, the true intrigue of this Fantasy Energy League is to see how different teams value different measures intended to reduce carbon emissions as a sort of referendum on optimal actions to fight climate change.
As I noted, we had some immediate interest and jockeying for who will be the favorites to take home the Inaugural Fantasy Energy League title. We have teams rolling seven players deep and others competing as individuals. There are representatives from industry, academia, VCs, and non-profits. Participants stretch from coast to coast. While there’s a mix of teams who have previous fantasy sports experience vs. those for whom this competition will be their first foray into that world, notably all teams boast impressive background in the energy field.
Let’s look at the 14 participating teams to see who they are, where theirs minds are with the process, and where some natural rivalries might develop…
Source: Konnect Africa
1. Energy Innovation
Energy Innovation, captained by Silvio Marcacci and anchored by Robbie Orvis and Mike O’Boyle, was the first team lining up at the door to participate and were instrumental in generating some of the online excitement to make this experiment to be possible. However, it’s not that but their organization’s deep knowledge of the effects of climate policy (check out my review of the book they put out, Designing Climate Solutions, if you don’t believe me) that could have them considered heavyweights in this competition.
2. Emission Impossible III: Carbon Protocol
If team names are indicative of the strength of a team, then this unbiased Fantasy Energy League commissioner might have to consider this group another favorite. If that wasn’t enough, though, captain Adam James and team members Shayle Kann and Andy Lubershane also have clean energy credits that speak for themselves. Given the new wrinkles to the rules came from Adam, I’m eager to see what sort of gaming of the system this team seeks out to try and win it all.
Electrowinning is captained by Justin Guay and rounded out by Justin Gerdes, Matt Baker, and Sonia Aggarwal. Justin was a key member in some of the aforementioned Twitter smack talk, so I’d suggest keeping an eye on this team for how they might try to throw other teams off and sneak ahead.
Next, we have a deep-benched team representing the Clean Energy Leadership Institute, specifically with alum from the Washington DC area, one of the two cities (the other being San Francisco) in which the CELI program has established itself and sought to hiseducate the next generation of clean energy leaders. Mary Shoemaker will captain this team, along with Chase Counts, Mishal Thadani, CeCe Coffey, David MacPherson, Gabriel Gordon-Harper, and Amory Fischer.
Powerhouse is a venture fund for clean energy, but its entry represents the first of our teams taking on the challenge of the Fantasy Energy League as an individual decision maker rather than a full team, with Zach Rizk carrying the torch for Powerhouse on his own. Will fewer cooks in the kitchen lead to greater success?
6. Dan Meleras
Dan Meleras takes the individual competing against full teams even further, proudly standing behind his name as his team’s moniker itself. You must think other teams will see this bravado and confidence and be quaking in their boots.
GridLab is a team captained by Taylor McNair and completed with Ric O’Connell. This self-described dynamic duo is behind GridLab, a non-profit that supports advocates and policymakers on technical grid issues. While carrying a heavy amount of energy expertise, this team notes that they’re in Energy Innovation’s office enough that they might be able to grab an advantageous sneak peek into their data and draft strategy. Might SpyGate leak from the NFL into the Fantasy Energy League? As commissioner, I’ll have to keep an eye on this..
8. New Energy Equity
New Energy Equity LLC is the nation’s leading end-to-end solar development and finance specialist company, and this group also seeks to prove its value by taking this competition by storm. Captain Steven Chan and his team, consisting of Kevin Corcoran, Jessica Krawczyk, Jack Levenson, Richard Clayton, John Langhus, Dean Eastlake, and Bakary Coulibaly, are surely not short on fire power. But will this melding of the minds spell success for the team?
PS—speaking of trash talk, this team did send a personal message in their pre-draft survey for Emission Impossible III: Carbon Protocol: “We love being the underdogs and we’re never afraid of a little competition. Shayle Kann—big fan, also you’re going down!”
9. The Windy City
Steven Brisley is competing as an individual, but he hopes to evoke Da Bears of 1985 and Da Bulls of the 90s to make Chicago proud. With so many iconic sports figures in his hometown, can Steven properly channel them and bring home a championship of his own?
10. This CO2 Shall Pass
Another candidate for best name, in my humble opinion, comes from Gilbert Michaud who will be competing as an individual. He is a college professor studying energy policy who is participating in this league to get involved with fellow energy wonks and to feed his thirst for competition. In terms of his competitors, Professor Michaud sees some big fish across the league in Emission Impossible III: Carbon Protocol and CELI, but as our academic field representative and a fantasy sports nut in his own right he might be the intimidating competitor other teams should fear.
11. Kiterocket Renewables
When establishing herself for the Fantasy Energy League draft, Deborah Knuckly of Kiterocket Renewables championed that any proper climate policy needs marketing and PR expertise, which she hopes will help carry her to victory. In her own words, Deborah is an energy geek and author running a team of great renewable marketers and was drawn to this competition as another in many efforts to envision the future and visualizing good energy policy. While she claims she’s just here to make other teams look good, might she emerge as a dark horse candidate to take the title?
12. ELECTRIFIED Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
This team, captained by Matt Stephens-Rich and rounded out by Zach McGuire and Marie McConnell, is made up of workers behind the Smart Columbus program that deploys smart technology in transportation and rapid electric vehicle adoption. Based on their background and team name, you’d better believe they have an eye on the transportation sector as one of their early picks. Whether or not tipping that off to their opponents plays out for them, we’ll just have to wait and see.
13. Rocky Mountain Institute
Another venerable name in the energy and environmental communities, Rocky Mountain Institute, throws its hat in the ring via captain Leia Guccione. This team plans to come out swinging, noting that their team holds both fantasy football championships and renowned energy-forecasting clout, while they’re also no strangers to competitive side-wagers or social media smack talk (privately calling out colleagues at Energy innovation and GridLab as their prime targets).
Will the prestige and reputation of RMI be enough to keep down some of the upstarts and individuals vying for the same goal?
14. Clarion Energy Women in Power
A late entry in this contest may take the other competitors by surprise, but Clarion Energy Women in Power—captained by Jenn Runyon—seeks to show that it’s better late than never to sweep in and take what’s theirs.
Kicking Off Next Steps
The next step is to complete the draft, which will take place over email during the week of January 21 and will last as long as it takes each team to fill out its roster.
After the teams are selected, I’ll publish a follow up article reviewing how the draft went and allowing the world to see the selections. At that point, the real debate can begin within the participating teams and from outside watchers to weigh in on who drafted the best (and, well…we have a lot of really smart people participating, but someone’s got to come in last!)
So, what do you think, energy community? Do you see any favorites among the participants? Any colleagues that you’re rooting for? Be sure to let me and them know in the comments and on Twitter!