This Capstone Highlight features the project MENV students Rebecca Billingsley (RSE), Robert Ford (RSE), and Eric Owens (RSE) are working on in partnership with the Colorado Energy Office (CEO). Titled “Colorado Energy Office Utility Database,” their project aims to update the 2010 Colorado Utilities Report into a public-facing, web-based platform with current information on the utility landscape in Colorado. Let us learn more about the project and progress to date from the CEO capstone team.
Project Description and Goals: The 2010 Colorado Utilities Report offered the first comprehensive look at the utility generation mix, service areas, and consumer resources available to residents of Colorado. Partnering with the CEO, we will conduct strategic planning, research, and analysis in support of updating the 2010 Utilities Report into a web-based platform. The platform will provide contemporary information to various stakeholders, ranging from ratepayers to project developers, and will provide key data about Colorado's energy system. Ultimately, this platform will inform decision-making and document Colorado's energy transition.
Project Deliverables: The two primary deliverables for this project will be an interactive web-based platform and the utility database. The three secondary deliverables are the self-guided help document, the social media plan, and the Final Capstone Deliverables. The utility database will be developed in Tableau and will house Colorado utility data collected through surveys, utility websites, and EIA Form-861. Figures from the utility database will then be embedded into the utility platform, designed using Squarespace, and linked to the CEO's main page. It will contain a plethora of statewide energy information. The three secondary deliverables will support the future management of the platform.
What are your roles as graduate students for the project? Our role in this project is to design and develop the online platform. Eric Owens is the design lead, leading the development of the utility platform. Rebecca Billingsley is the technical lead, focusing on the development of the utility database. Robert Ford is the marketing lead, undertaking the development of the social media plan.
What are the current opportunities for professional development? Our capstone advisor, who was the project manager on the 2010 Utilities Report, has provided excellent guidance throughout the project's entirety. Our capstone partner has given access to utilize teams within the company. External resources have proven to benefit the decision-making process for the platform used for the utility database. Technical training will enable us to obtain the necessary skills for this project and help us in our future careers.
How is the capstone experience so far? The project has our team super excited about what we can create during our time with the CEO. Our team dynamic has been very successful and has made the project run smoothly. We have successfully integrated some data into Tableau, and we are well on our way to make sure we have all the data necessary to implement this project. We have found multiple free online pieces of training and spoken with people through our network to assist us in developing the database. We have also created a demo of the Squarespace platform and properly integrated a few graphs from Tableau. Although we have recognized the challenges of engaging with utility companies for data and the complexity of integrating data with mapping functions, we are highly confident we will solve both of these challenges. Our team understands the importance of planning and research, but we are looking forward to the actual development of the deliverables as we approach the summer.
The MENV program is dedicated to providing its students with valuable, real-world experience. This project is one example of the many graduate teams working to make a tangible impact in their respective fields. Thank you, Rebecca, Robert, and Eric, for sharing your capstone experience thus far! Click here to learn more information about MENV Capstone Projects.