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Electric Vehicles Could Lower Power Bills For All Illinois Residents, New Study Finds

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The robust growth projected for the U.S. electric vehicle (EV) market will usher in lower electric bills for all Illinois consumers—including those who don’t own a car—if policy makers adopt key measures necessary to unleash the savings, according to an analysis released Wednesday by the Citizens Utility Board (CUB).

The research is believed to be the nation’s first analysis conducted by a consumer watchdog group into how the surging popularity of EVs on American roadways will impact electric customers and the power grid. The study, Charging Ahead: Deriving Value from Electric Vehicles for All Electricity Customers, is posted on the Research page of CitizensUtilityBoard.org.

Based on data reflecting actual electricity-usage patterns in Illinois, the study found that consumers could reap more than $2.6 billion in cumulative benefits on their power bills by 2030, if state officials establish policies that encourage motorists to charge their cars during times of the day when there is less strain on the power grid and electricity prices are at their lowest.

But if legislators and regulators don’t implement smart charging policies—and EV owners charge their cars during periods of higher power demand—they risk increased stress on the grid and higher power bills. The study’s authors estimate that anticipated EV proliferation could increase Illinois power bills by up to $856 million if nothing is done to encourage smart charging.

The report emphasizes that policy makers—not only in Illinois, but also throughout the country—will determine whether utility consumers capitalize on the savings, as EVs multiply coast to coast.

“While the EV revolution is still in its infancy, we’re already approaching a crucial crossroads in how to manage the ripple effects on our electricity costs,” said CUB Executive Director David Kolata. “This research shows that escalating EV sales could lead to lower utility bills for everyone. To ensure that we seize this opportunity for savings, the public can’t afford for their policy makers to wait.  Action is needed now to set policies that help EV owners charge their cars in a way that benefits everyone.”

The report’s recommendations constitute a policy blueprint that states should embrace in a quest to maximize the savings potential. Foremost among them is a call for states to automatically enroll EV owners in “dynamic” pricing programs, where rates vary depending on the time of day when power is consumed. These rates could apply only to the cost of powering the EV—other household usage would be billed separately according to whatever pricing plan the customer chooses—and car owners could opt-out of the program.

While electricity is most often billed under a fixed rate that rarely changes, dynamic prices fluctuate over the course of the day, as the total volume of demand on the system swells and dips. By funneling EV owners into dynamic plans on an opt-out basis—they could unsubscribe at any time—utilities can ensure the grid digests added demand from EVs without necessitating new expenditures on increased generation capacity or enhanced transmission and distribution infrastructure.  EV owners, meanwhile, would benefit from electricity priced far lower than the regular fixed rate.

The report specifically advocates for automatically enrolling EV owners in a “Time of Use” (TOU) pricing program. A TOU plan would charge different rates for different blocs of time during the day, allowing EV owners to plan their charging when the price is lowest.

“We think TOU rate plans are one of the most practical forms of dynamic pricing, but there are many others,” Kolata said. “The key point for policy makers is that we can harness money-saving power from EVs if we provide car owners with pricing plans that encourage them to charge their cars overnight when the grid is brimming with unused and extremely cheap electricity.”

In a separate analysis of 2016 and 2017 data, CUB found that EV owners on one dynamic pricing plan could cut their electricity supply costs by more than 50 percent.

There are about 15,000 EVs in Illinois today, but the new study projects that number could surge to at least 690,000 by 2030—and it could catapult to as high as 2.2 million if the state embarks on an aggressive effort to reduce carbon emissions during the same time period. Such efforts have been discussed in the nation’s capital as well as the Illinois Legislature, which is now considering a measure, the Clean Energy Jobs Act, that would promote EV growth in Illinois.

Those sales estimates formed the basis for the utility bill savings that the report attributed to EVs. The estimated $2.6 billion in total benefits reflect three different factors:

  • $2 billion in lower costs for energy consumption.
  • $124 million in lower costs for investments in “capacity.” (Capacity refers to long-term purchase agreements a utility makes to ensure there is enough power available to meet future projected demand.)
  • $536 million in additional utility revenue, allowing rate reductions of up to 12 percent.

“Electric vehicles produce many rewards for the public at large, including a reduction in pollution from autos and diminishing dependence on foreign oil,” Kolata said. “Our analysis shows that EVs not only allow drivers to charge a car at a much lower cost than to fill at the pump, but they also have the potential to keep a lid on electric bills for all consumers.”

CUB is celebrating its 35th anniversary as Illinois’ leading nonprofit utility watchdog. Created by the Illinois Legislature, CUB opened its doors in 1984 to represent the interests of residential and small-business utility customers. Since then, it has saved consumers more than $20 billion by helping to block rate hikes and secure refunds. For more information, call CUB, 1-800-669-5556, or visit CitizensUtilityBoard.org.

SOURCE Citizens Utility Board

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Wirex Launches Enhanced Cryptoback™

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Today, payments platform Wirex launched a supercharged update of their revolutionary Cryptoback™ rewards programme. Customers can now earn up to 1.5% back in Bitcoin on Wirex Visa card purchases.

Released in 2018, Cryptoback™ was the world’s first rewards programme that paid out 0.5% in cryptocurrency for all in-store spending with the Wirex Visa card. Thanks to the recent launch of the Wirex Token (WXT), customers can now triple the amount of BTC they earn – making investing in cryptocurrency easier than ever before.

Depending on the amount of WXT held, in-store Wirex card purchases now generate up to 1.5% in Bitcoin. There are three levels of crypto rewards available:

  • 500,000 WXT = 1.5% Cryptoback™
  • 100,000 WXT = 1.0% Cryptoback™
  • 50,000 WXT = 0.75% Cryptoback™

Wirex have calculated that the average UK consumer stands to earn more than £300 in Cryptoback™ every year, just by using their Wirex Visa card for day-to-day spending. Unlike many other cashback programmes, Wirex doesn’t impose restrictions on what customers can do with their rewards. Cryptoback™ can be redeemed instantly into their Bitcoin accounts, or quickly and easily exchanged into fiat for spending.

Enhanced Cryptoback™ is just one of the ways that holding Wirex Tokens allows customers to get even more out of their account. They can also enjoy heavily discounted fees based on the same structure, with access to premium products, merchant offers and airport lounges coming soon. As Wirex co-founder Pavel Matveev explains:

“We created the Wirex Token to be something that provides tangible value and benefits for holders beyond its market trajectory. Enhanced Cryptoback™ is the perfect example of this, as it allows customers to earn and invest in digital currency with a minimum of fuss. We’re looking forward to introducing even more benefits for WXT holders soon.”

 

SOURCE Wirex

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MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab Convenes Top Researchers for Second Annual AI Research Week

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The MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab (NYSE: IBM) is hosting its second annual AI Research WeekSeptember 16-20, in Cambridge, MA. The five-day conference will explore leading themes in today’s field of AI including neurosymbolic computing and semantic reasoning in machine learning, AI security and safety, inclusive design of AI for all communities, trustworthy and explainable AI, and industry applications of AI.

The MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab is a joint research effort to drive fundamental advances in artificial intelligence. Since its founding in 2017, the lab has become an integral component of IBM’s AI Research strategy and is spearheading 48 AI-related research projects.

WHO:
Dario Gil (Director, IBM Research), joined by top AI researchers:

  • Yoshua Bengio (A.M. Turing Award Winner and Pioneer of AI and Deep Learning)
  • Josh Tenenbaum (Professor, Dept. of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT)
  • Laura Shulz (Dept. of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, Primary Investigator of the MIT Early Childhood Cognition Lab)
  • Roger Levy (Associate Professor, Dept. of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, Director of the Computational Psycholinguistics Laboratory)

Additional discussions will feature David Cox (IBM Director, MIT-IBM AI Watson Lab), Lisa Amini (Director, IBM Research Cambridge), and Antonio Torralba (MIT Director, MIT-IBM AI Watson Lab), addressing key topics including: progress of the MIT-IBM AI Watson Lab to date and future goals; transitioning AI research to industry; and self-supervised learning of AI.

The conference will also showcase research and thought leadership from scientists and students affiliated with Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the University of California, San Diego; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; the University of Illinois, Urbana-ChampaignBoston UniversityRensselaer Polytechnic Institute; the University of Montreal; the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and the Cambridge and Boston community.

WHAT:
AI Research Week is a technical conference featuring top AI thought leaders from around the world sharing the latest insights on the field of AI. The five-day gathering will also consist of panels, workshops, networking and mentorship all geared towards forging new ideas and discussion around advancements in AI.

WHEN & WHERE: 
September 16-20, 2019, times for events vary. AI Research Week events will be held at MIT and IBM in Cambridge, MA. While many events will occur at the MIT Samberg Conference Center, 50 Memorial Dr, Cambridge, MA 02142, it is best to check the schedule for specific event locations and times.

Conference highlights:

Monday, September 16: Kick-off the week with a poster and networking session where researchers from the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab and IBM’s AI Horizons Network of university collaborators will showcase projects underway that are shaping the future of AI.

The afternoon will feature a round robin event designed to help match various student communities in the Boston area with a mentor, specifically those in Latinx, BlackinAI, Women in Machine Learning, and LGBTQ. This session will include 15 tables, each with a different topic, and mentors from IBM, as well as other speakers from AI Research Week, designed to connect students with a mentor.

Tuesday, September 17: Yoshua Bengio, full professor and head of the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA), University of Montreal, and Dario Gil, Director of IBM Research, begin the AI Horizons Colloquium with a Welcome Address, followed by a full day of talks and discussion featuring AI experts from academia and industry.

NOTE: The Colloquium (all day) will be livestreamed here.

Other Colloquium speakers include:

  • Saska Mojsilovic, head of AI Foundations, IBM Research and Co-Director of IBM Science for Social Good, will discuss how people can begin to trust AI.
  • Collin Stult, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Institute for Medical Engineering and Science and MIT faculty at Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology Cardiologist, will discuss whether useful machine learning will be used clinically in the near future.

Wednesday, September 18: The NASA ISS Program Science Office and the ISS U.S. National Laboratory, along with IBM Research, will launch a unique opportunity to learn about the International Space Station. Guests will be able to speak with representatives and researchers about the future of AI intersecting with the future of research in space. The event also includes a competition and special session where researchers and students can pitch “ISS meets AI” project ideas to a panel of space experts from NASA, the ISS, IBM, and MIT.

 

SOURCE IBM

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AI Operations Leader, ThroughPut.AI, chosen to present at the esteemed Plug and Play Japan Summit for IOT and Mobility in Tokyo on September 19th, 2019

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ThroughPut Inc., the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Supply Chain pioneer that enables operations to increase output, quality, throughput, profitability and safety through automated bottleneck elimination, today announced their presentation and participation of their COO and CTO at the Plug and Play Japan IoT and Mobility Summit and EXPO in Tokyo, Japan on September 19, 2019. As a Plug and Play portfolio company, ThroughPut has been one of the most active global members of the Plug and Play ecosystem, being awarded to participate in multiple cohorts and events at Plug and Play Sunnyvale, BerlinMilanFrankfurtClevelandJapan, and elsewhere, spanning diverse topics including application of AI, Data and Analytics to Industrial Manufacturing, Operations, Supply Chain, Logistics, Transportation, Mobility, Industry 4.0, Oil and Gas, Food and Agriculture, and more.

“As the leading AI platform for Operations using existing data systems, ThroughPut is honored to be an active contributor to the Plug and Play Japan Mobility Batch 3 cohort,” noted Ali Raza, CEO of ThroughPut. “Our executive team is excited to present to over 1,500 Japanese corporate executives, resellers and partnership leaders at the IoT and Mobility Summit next week in Tokyo on September 19th, as well as consequent meetings that week.”

Plug and Play runs 15 industry themes across more than 50 accelerator programs a year in cities across the world. Plug and Play’s Japanese arm has accelerated four leading-edge industry programs,  and awarded participation to 69 pioneering technology start-ups and 31 corporate leaders, including MUFG, Tokyu Land, Sompo, Nissan, Hitachi, Panasonic, Fujitsu, Fujikura, DENSO, NipponLife, Dentsu, ADK, Nittsu, Norinchukin Bank, Orix, Macnica, Sumitomo, J-Power, Suzuki, SMFG, NEC Solution Innovators, Aflac, Asahi HD, Coca Cola Japan, AISIN, Kyocera MKI, Tanabe, Toshiba Tec, JXTG Energy and Shimadzu. This year’s Summer / Fall Summit is expected to receive an even greater response from startups and corporations across JapanAsia and even further overseas.

“We are very excited to continue building upon our strong client and partner relationships in Japan“, responded Seth Page, COO of ThroughPut and eight-time entrepreneur, while adding, “Plug and Play has opened up unique opportunities for collaboration with corporate partners, clients and investors around the world, bringing together the brightest minds in the industry on a single business platform. In Japan, we are showcasing our unique capabilities to a host of reputed industrial and global corporate titans, while also acquiring valuable insights from other fellow global thought leaders through participation in the Japense Mobility program and event. We look forward to continuing business discussions with market leaders in Japan next week and especially at the IOT and Mobility Summit in Tokyo on September 19th, as well as the Smart EXPO in Nagoya on September 18th.”

Bhaskar Ballapragada, CTO of ThroughPut, commented as well, “The time is ripe for industries to leverage the value of Artificial Intelligence on top of the decades of disaggregated data they’ve been collecting in-house. ThroughPut’s ELI Kaizen-AI product gives unprecedented power to a firm’s own operations managers. AI-enabled, data-driven analysis and executable insights to eliminate bottlenecks in real-time now enable the management of seamless operations across their end-to-end supply chains. In our mission to eliminate the $10 Trillion dollars of annual global industrial waste, we are reaching out to as many industries and companies to test for themselves our ELI product and enable them to experience firsthand the power of their own data with AI, and realize the quick ROI that comes with freeing-up working capital from operations by investing in ThroughPut’s ELI.”

 

SOURCE ThroughPut Inc.

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