Winning Approaches: University of Michigan Renewable Energy




The Competition: Renewable Energy Case Competition, University of Michigan, Feb. 2nd.

The Team: Dave Hirsch, Josh Lich, Rohan Ma, and Dan Stotts, all MBA 13.

The Outcome: First place.

The Field: Fifteen other teams, including those from Columbia, Tuck, Fuqua, and Kellogg.

The Challenge: To move a Michigan utility closer to achieving 20% of electricity generation from renewable energy technology. The team analyzed the cost-effectiveness of both renewable and conventional energy generation; conducted risk and extraneous cost assements, and developed a risk-minimizing strategy that included analysis of tax implications.

The Winning Approach: Diversification. "We suggested a solution similar to diversifying a stock portfolio that would minimize the risks associated with renewable energy," says Stotts. Also, a dose of reality." We emphasized that there is no 'magic bullet,' but rather a combination of best-practices to employ around locational diversification, smart grid, energy storage, and market integration. Behind these recommendations, we provided robust financial modeling the corroborated our story."

Won Because: Judges praised the team's thorough and consistent approach. Stotts says the team's two "quants," Ma and Hirsch, exhaustively researched the inputs to the financial models that eventually led to the final costs presented. "The judges, industry experts, could see our costs were logical and realistic," Stotts says" Additionally, the team's strategy was specific to the market in which it operated and highly applicable.

The H Factor: "There’s no question that Berkeley-Haas has a vibrant energy community," says Stotts. "The access that we, as first-years, have received through BERC, the Energy Institute, and experiential learning really provided an intuition from which we could think through the problems." The team also credits the Leadership Communications course with helping deliver a confident presentation.

Defining Principles at Work: "Everyone left their egos at the door in order to facilitate collaboration," says Stotts. The team took a Students Always approach by believing they could learn from each other and incorporating peer feedback to arrive at a more refined message. "Our maturity and authority on the subject matter also showed the Confidence without Attitude" that was behind our teamwork."

Why it Mattered: "These are important problems and this is the preeminent energy case competition in the U.S. We wanted to represent Haas and leverage our respective backgrounds to develop solutions."

ZZZ Factor: Every spare moment from receiving the case on Jan. 27 to presenting solutions on Feb. 2. was spent on the case. The night before departure, the team worked until 2 a.m., then left to pack for 6 a.m. flights. Copious amounts of caffeine and 80's pop via Spotify kept them going in those final hours.

About The Author

From 2011-2013, Valerie Gilbert focused on sharing stories of Berkeley MBA student achievements and connection to the Haas Defining Principles. At Haas since 2004 and now Associate Director of Content Marketing, she still enjoys revealing the different facets of life at Berkeley-Haas to a variety of audiences.