Work Experience

  • Present 2016

    Research Intern

    Ontario Climate Consortium, MITACS Graduate Intern

  • Present 2015

    Co-Founder

    MiDataLabs.org - Datascience consulting

  • 2016 2014

    Graduate Researcher

    Keweenaw Research Center, Summer research internship

  • 2012 2010

    Creative Head

    iThoughtz, Web dev. startup

  • 2009 2008

    Researcher

    SSN Institutions, Department of Physics

Education

  • PhD. 2019

    Geography

    University of Guelph

  • M.S. 2016

    Computer Science

    Michigan Tech

  • M.S.2013

    Physics

    Michigan Tech

  • B.E.2008

    Electrical and Electronics Engineering

    Anna University, India

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Understanding Homeowner Motivations to Adopt Residential Solar Electric Technology: What Predicts Adoption?

Emily Prehoda, Abhilash Kantamneni, Chelsea Schelly
Conference Presentation Rural Sociological Society Annual Conference, 2016.

Abstract

Residential adoption of solar electric (also called PV) technology is increasing rapidly in the United States. Given that many of these systems are connected to the existing utility grid through what are known as net metering agreements, state public service commissions that regulate and monitor electric utility activity are beginning to track residential PV adoption. Using data from the state of Michigan, this paper examines a combination of structural conditions and value orientation motivators constituting the social, economic, political, and policy factors that correlate with adoption. The paper builds on past research suggesting that factors like income, home value, education and political orientation matter for motivating residential PV adoption while contributing new insight to the role of utility pricing and policies in shaping PV adoption. Solar electric technology is a viable way to reduce monthly electricity bills while mitigating the negative environmental consequences associated with the electric energy sources that currently dominate utility portfolios; taking a holistic approach, this paper tests the role of structural economic conditions, agency-driven individual motivations, and utility scale policies as both potential preconditions and potential barriers to furthering PV adoption in US homes.

Exploring Energy Justice in Rural America: Mapping Utility Rates, Social Inequality and State Policy

Abhilash Kantamneni, Richelle Winkler
Conference Presentation Rural Sociological Society Annual Conference, 2016.

Abstract

Access to affordable and reliable energy is critical for household livelihoods and for community economic development. This paper integrates spatially referenced data from across the Midwestern United States to explore spatial variation in electric utility rates and consider possible relationships with community indicators of social status (e.g. rurality, income, race/ethnicity, and educational attainment). The first goal is to pull together relevant sources of data to begin to answer questions such as: Do rural communities pay higher electric rates than more urban areas? Do communities with less socioeconomic status pay higher rates? If rural and disadvantaged communities do pay higher rates, it would raise justice concerns and warrant further research into explaining the pattern. Second, we explore state-level variation in utility rates and the role of state policy in mediating relationships between utility rates and community indicators. Midwestern states each have different policy systems that regulate utilities to different extents, encourage or discourage alternative energy adoption, and that shape the mix of utilities providing service. The states also vary a good deal in household and community-level adoption of renewable energy systems. A common concern in utility governance is that increasing numbers of households and businesses investing in solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources (whether tied to the grid through net-metering or off-grid self-supporting systems) will increase the cost of grid-tied electricity for all consumers and especially for those who do not adopt (or are not able to adopt) alternative systems. These arguments shape policy decisions about renewable energy standards and other incentives to spur energy transitions and policies that impact electric utility regulation. We expect that states with more or less renewable energy adoption and with different utility regulation/renewable incentive structures will experience different utility rate patterns. The exploratory analysis presented here will describe these state-level contexts.

Rethinking Energy Poverty and Security in Midwestern America

Abhilash Kantamneni
Conference Presentation International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM), 2016.

Abstract

Energy poverty, commonly described as limited access to energy services, poses barriers to health, well-being and social mobility of households and communities. In order to mitigate this, federal, state and local programs in America direct resources to low-income households, offering rebates on efficiency retrofits or direct assistance with energy bills. However, Federal poverty guidelines as a single metric to describe 'at-risk' populations may not adequately encompass all factors that contribute to limited access to energy services. Indeed, research from EU and other developed nations indicates that housing stock, weather, home-ownership, household-size, and other socio-economic factors significantly influence residential energy efficiency adoption or subscription to energy assistance programs. Combining prior research with emerging theories of energy equality and justice, this poster will map county jurisdictions in the Midwest that are most vulnerable to energy poverty based on a composite metric of risk. This analysis will also help policy makers and practitioners develop energy assistance programs that are more equitable and accessible.

Barriers to Energy Efficiency in Commercial and Industrial Businesses

Abhilash Kantamneni, Christopher Green, Jay Meldrum
Conference Presentation International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM), 2016.

Abstract

Energy efficiency is often regarded as the fastest and most accessible means to achieve sustainability and reduce energy costs. Using a framework developed from semi-structured interviews of business owners, staff and personnel, this presentation will analyze the relevance of various barriers to energy efficiency experienced by commercial and small industrial businesses across 7 industrial parks in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Preliminary analysis indicates that high energy costs in the region pose a significant barrier to business expansion and workforce development. To address this, the presentation will also make specific technical and policy recommendations for regional planners, showing how advancing energy efficiency helps support local economic development and business retention.

Emerging Economic Viability of Grid Defection in a Northern Climate using Solar Hybrid Systems

Abhilash Kantamneni, Richelle Winkler, Lucia Gaucia, and Joshua M Pearce
Journal Paper Energy Policy Volume 95, August 2016, Pages 378–389

Abstract

High demand for photovoltaic (PV), battery, and small-scale combined heat and power (CHP) technologies are driving a virtuous cycle of technological improvements and cost reductions in off-grid electric systems that increasingly compete with the grid market. Using a case study in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, this paper quantifies the economic viability of off-grid PV+battery+CHP adoption and evaluates potential implications for grid-based utility models. The analysis shows that already some households could save money by switching to a solar hybrid off-grid system in comparison to the effective electric rates they are currently paying. Across the region by 2020, 92% of seasonal households and ~75% of year-round households are projected to meet electricity demands with lower costs. Furthermore, ~65% of all Upper Peninsula single-family owner-occupied households will both meet grid parity and be able to afford the systems by 2020. The results imply that economic circumstances could spur a positive feedback loop whereby grid electricity prices continue to rise and increasing numbers of customers choose alternatives (sometimes referred to as a “utility death spiral”), particularly in areas with relatively high electric utility rates. Utility companies and policy makers must take the potential for grid defection seriously when evaluating energy supply strategies

Going Solar and Going off the Grid: Population Projections of Solar-Based Grid Defection

Richelle Winkler, Abhilash Kantamneni, Joshua Pearce
Conference Presentation Presented by Richelle Winkler @ Population Association of America Annual Meeting, April 2016

Survey of multi-agent systems for microgrid control

Abhilash Kantamneni, Laura E Brown, Gordon Parker, Wayne Weaver
Journal Paper Engineering Applications of Artficial Intelligence Volume 45, October 2015, Pages 192–203

Abstract

Multi-agent systems (MAS) consist of multiple intelligent agents that interact to solve problems that may be beyond the capabilities of a single agent or system. For many years, conceptual MAS designs and architectures have been proposed for applications in power systems and power engineering. With the increasing use and modeling of distributed energy resources for microgrid applications, MAS are well suited to manage the size and complexity of these energy systems. The purpose of this paper is to survey applications of MAS in the control and operation of microgrids. The paper will review MAS concepts, architectures, develop platforms and processes, provide example applications, and discuss limitations.

Generating Economic Development: An Energy Study of U.P. Industrial Parks

Nathan Fazer, Abhilash Kantamneni, Chris Green, Jay Meldrum
Technical Report Federal Economic Development Agency Award # 06-06-05950 | March 2016

Economic development professionals, government officials, and businesses across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (the U.P.) have collectively determined addressing energy challenges as a priority for job growth in the Region. The purpose of the “Generating Economic Development” project was to study and research the cost and feasibility of implementing alternative energy solutions at the industrial park scale across seven industrial parks in the U.P

Survey of solar irradiance models for emergency PV deployment

Abhilash Kantamneni, M Cook, A Hirzel, G Parker, and LE Brown.
Technical Report Army Research Laboratory Cooperative Agreement # W911NF-13-2-0024 | May 2015

Ad-hoc power grids for military and disaster relief applications can become more efficient and resilient by harnessing renewable energy sources such as wind, geothermal and solar irradiance. Solar energy is a promising source for rapid deployment in emergency situations due to its mobility and modular components that can be easily scaled up or down to meet power requirements. Additionally, solar irradiance databases exist to aid implementation and the hardware is low-maintenance compared to electrical generators with spinning parts. Solar irradiance forecasts are based on using ground- or satellite-based measurements combined with statistical regression or machine learning models. One of the major challenges of rapid deployment applications into uncharacterized environments is model parameters for that location. Predictive capability for planning and asset allocation for rapid photo-voltaic (PV) deployment forecasting is the focus of this review. Several papers are explored which require only a minimum of historical or present in-situ measurements. Each model reviewed has slightly different input requirements and can serve a different purpose in the rapid PV deployment planning process. Models were selected and evaluated on their ease of implementation, input parameter availability and proven accuracy of application.

Houghton County Community Energy Plan

Edward Louie, John B Barnett, Brent Burns, and Abhilash Kantamneni
Technical Report Georgetown University Energy Prize | Dec 2014

This Houghton County Energy Plan is the product of a community-based effort to reduce energy usage in Houghton County, Michigan, while improving the lives of its citizens. The small-town character of this community is very different than that of large, metropolitan areas, and the area has unique challenges in terms of reducing energy use. At the same time, Houghton County will need to fully take advantage of grassroots community action and collaboration in order to achieve the goals identified by community members and outlined in this plan.

Timing Sunsets with Smartphones:- Proof of Concept for a Citizen Science Project that Quanti es the Atmosphere and Supports Astronomical Observations

Teresa Wilson, Abhilash Kantamneni, Jennifer Bartlett, Robert Nemiroff
Conferences American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts, Vol. 223, 2014.

Abstract

Current models that predict the times of sunrise and sunset are only accurate, typically, to a few minutes. Variations in atmospheric refraction contribute to the differences between computed and observed times. At high latitudes, slight changes in refraction can cause the Sun to remain continuously above the horizon instead of appearing to set. A substantial collection of observations would help constrain atmospheric models, which should, in turn, complement astronomical observations through improved understanding of air stability, refraction, and transparency. We report on a small project recording data from a few smartphones as a proof of concept for a possible larger scale citizen science effort.

Proof of Concept for a Simple Smartphone Sky Monitor

Abhilash Kantamneni, Robert Nemiroff, Chad Brisbois
Conferences American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts, Vol. 223, 2014.

Abstract

We present a novel approach of obtaining a cloud and bright sky monitor by using a standard smartphone with a downloadable app. The addition of an inexpensive fisheye lens can extend the angular range to the entire sky visible above the device. A preliminary proof of concept image shows an optical limit of about visual magnitude 5 for a 70-second exposure. Support science objectives include cloud monitoring in a manner similar to the more expensive cloud monitors in use at most major astronomical observatories, making expensive observing time at these observatories more efficient. Primary science objectives include bright meteor tracking, bright comet tracking, and monitoring the variability of bright stars. Citizen science objectives include crowd sourcing of many networked sky monitoring smartphones typically in broader support of many of the primary science goals. The deployment of a citizen smartphone array in an active science mode could leverage the sky monitoring data infrastructure to track other non-visual science opportunities, including monitoring the Earth's magnetic field for the effects of solar flares and exhaustive surface coverage for strong seismic events.

  • 2015
    Midwest Energy News 40 Under 40 Award
    In coordination with its fifth anniversary, Midwest Energy News announced a program to highlight emerging leaders throughout the region and their work to accelerate America’s transition to a clean energy economy.
  • 2016
    Kiyoko Miyanishi Graduate Scholarship
    Award made on the basis of high academic achievement
  • 2015
    Floyd Society Heart & Hands Award
    In 1998 the Martha and Floyd Heart & Hands Society was founded with a small endowment from the estate of Martha and Floyd Kinzel. The intent of the society is to provide rovide recognition to a person who has given of her or his heart and hands in the service of peace, justice, or the environment who might otherwise not be recognized.
  • 2015
    US Federal Economic Development Agency Grant
    A $51,000 grant to develop technical and policy solutions for retroffitting Michigan industrial parks with renewable energy and energy efficiency.
  • 2015
    Byron Fellowship
    The mission of the Byron Fellowship is to activate emerging leaders, engaging their unique abilities to cultivate generative efforts within their own communities.
  • 2015
    Exceptional Leader Award
    Michigan Tech's 'Exceptional Leaders' exemplify - •Ability to work well with others •Participation in extra-curricular activities and achievements •Contribution to department or overall graduate student community •Collegial attitude and demeanor •Recognized by others as a standard bearer of integrity
  • 2015
    Joyce Foundation Grant
    A $30,000 project management grant to support community energy efficiency eff orts.
  • 2015
    University Innovation Fellowship Candidate
    The University Innovation Fellows program empowers students to become agents of change at their schools. Participants acquire knowledge of tools, frameworks and program models that help college students develop an entrepreneurial mindset and creative confidence. Fellows create new learning opportunities for their peers and inspire them to seize opportunities, define problems and address global challenges.
  • 2015 & 2016
    Michigan Tech 3 Minute Thesis Award
    Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) celebrates the exciting research conducted by PhD students. Developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), the exercise cultivates students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills. The competition supports their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.
  • 2014
    Keweenaw Community Foundation Grant
    A $1,800 grant to help prepare local youth for career opportunities in renewable energy.
  • 2014
    Exceptional Community Service Award
    Michigan Tech's award for a service project that has enhanced the quality of life and made a significant improvement to the community.
  • 2014
    Michigan Clean Energy Venture Award
    Finalist in a competition transforming clean-tech ideas into viable ventures.
  • 2012 & 2013
    Elevator Pitch Award
    A business competition at Michigan Tech that celebrates succinct and persuasive communication of ideas in 90 seconds, emulating the length of an elevator ride
  • 2016
    MREA Energy Fair
    Energy Poverty in the Midwest - What factors (income, weather, household and socio-economic) influence access to basic energy services? What Midwest communities are most vulnerable to energy poverty and suffer energy insecurity?
  • 2016
    Upper Peninsula Association of County Commisioners
    Energy in Michigan . Update on energy options in Michigan, pending legislation and community energy development.
  • 2016
    Michigan Catalyst Conference
    Energy Innovation - How research and innovation in advanced energy technologies can make energy more reliable, affordable and sustainable. Link
  • 2015
    Center for Science and Environmental Outreach
    Rethinking local energy choices - Alternative and Efficient.
  • 2015
    GLREA Energy Fair
    Solar and energy efficiency opportunities in Michigan.
  • 2014
    U.P. Economic Development Alliance
    Michigan energy update: resources for businesses
  • 2014
    Green Lecture Series
    History of Michigan energy policy and electric rates.
  • 2014
    Michigan Interfaith Power and Light
    Solar and Stewardship - Solar and sustainability for faith based communities.
  • 2014
    Grow Solar Conference
    PV Return on Investment in Michigan Markets
  • 2015
    Upper Peninsula Public Planners Network
    Community Energy Management and Planning - How local planners can help advance community energy plans under current and evolving Michigan legislative landscape.
  • 2015
    Keweenaw Bay Indian Community
    Energy efficieny and solar training . Basics of solar PV installation on tribal lands.
  • 2015
    Michigan Home Builders Association
    Solar Ready Homes - preparing builders for emerging oppotunities in solar PV installations.
  • 2015
    Teacher Training Institute
    Designing Sustainable Futures - Basics of clean energy classroom modules.
  • 2015
    Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative
    Six Steps to Solar
  • 2014
    Lake Superior Celebration
    Sustainability in Great Lakes Region
  • 2016
    Mapping Energy Poverty
    WUPPDR - Mapping energy poverty, vulnerability and infrasctucture in Western UP.
  • 2014-2016
    Solarize Houghton
    Self - Free workshops, tours and resources for residents and businesses in Houghton to go solar.
  • 2015
    Energy Efficient Communities
    Michigan Interfaith Power & Light - Helped five local faith-based institutions secure funding for energy efficiency retrofits
  • 2014
    Community Solar
    Ontonagon REA - Developed a community solar proposal for a rural electric co-operative utility.
  • 2014
    Midwest Solar Calculators
    Self - Developed calculators to help residents in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minesotta understand the costs and benifits of going solar. Note - not supported beyond net-metering policies of 2016
  • 2014
    Misadventures of a Graduate Student
    WMTU 91.9 FM - Talk show focusing on the lives of graduate students.
  • 2013
    Ben and Abhi Science Show
    WMTU 91.9 FM - Weekly roundup of important news in science and technology.

Teaching

  • 2016 2015

    Lab Instructor

    Intro to Programming - Michigan Tech

  • 2015 2014

    Course Instructor

    Alternative Energies - KBOCC

  • 2013 2012

    Teaching Assistant

    Extraordinary Concepts in Physics - Michigan Tech

  • 2010 2009

    Lab Instructor

    Intro to Physics - Michigan Tech

Guest Lectures

  • Fall 2015

    Sustainability and Civil Engineering

    History of US energy use

  • Spring 2015

    Sustainable Energy Systems

    Changing future of energy

  • Spring 2014

    Solar Engineering

    Challenges to net-metering

Community

  • 2015 2015

    Technical Advisor

    Keweenaw Bay Indian Community

  • 2015 2014

    Program Manager

    Houghton Energy Efficiency Team

  • 2015 2014

    Technical Writer

    Upper Peninsula Economic Development Alliance

University

  • 2016 2014

    Board Member

    Board for Academic and Community Conduct

  • 2026 2014

    Advisor

    Alternative Energy Enterprise

  • 2015 2015

    Advisory Committee

    Academic Conduct and Integrity