On February 2, 2017, three first-year MBA students (Gideon Banner, Zach Karson, and Ryan Wall) presented their case at the 2017 Columbia Energy Symposium Case Competition. Other schools competing included MIT, Bard, Colorado School of Mines, Carnegie Mellon, and Columbia. The case centered on a business proposal for a virtual power plant (VPP), a new grid structure involving a combination of solar, storage, and demand response integrated and aggregated to manage grid instability, peak load, and state-level renewable energy requirements. On a larger level, the case aimed to develop answers the question of whether state regulators and utilities (in this case, a vertically integrated one) should seek to get ahead of the curve of industry change, and if so, how best to do so.
This tied into the larger them of the conference: “Disruptive innovation: The New Status Quo?” A number of notable speakers addressed this theme, including Mary Powell (CEO of Green Mountain Energy), David Crane (former NRG CEO), and Jigar Shah (from the Energy Gang podcast), among others. Other notable highlights of the conference included a career fair and venture showcase; a number of Stern MBAs were in attendance for both.