Official Rules for Contest #1

Note: Rules for Contest #2: Apps for Energy II are available here.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Important Dates
  3. How to Enter
  4. Evaluation Criteria and Judging
  5. Available Data Resources
  6. Submission and Eligibility Requirements
  7. Additional Terms and Conditions


The U.S. Energy Department's American Energy Data Challenge is a four part Challenge, consisting of four Contests rolling out quarterly over the next 12 months. The Challenge is offering over $100,000 in prizes. The Challenge allows participants to consider how best to use energy data, describe what type of energy data is needed, build an app, and picture an America with a new, better energy infrastructure that meets our needs for the next 100 years. Along the way, Contestants will have a chance to use Green Button, the open standard for sharing electricity data that is available to millions of utility customers and mash it up with other public data sources to help homeowners and businesses take action, understand their usage and make better-informed decisions.

In Contest #1 - the Energy Ideas Contest, the American public will submit ideas for using existing open data, provide input on what new types of data are needed and describe "killer ideas" for new energy-related Apps and services that help save energy, improve reliability or otherwise increase the effectiveness of the American energy system. Contests #2-4 will roll out in each of the subsequent quarters. Contest descriptions and rules will be announced at the beginning of each Contest.

This Challenge is being administered by the Department of Energy ("DOE") using the Ideascale, Inc. platform. DOE, and Grid 21 (Grid 21 is a non-profit organization established in 2011 as a nationwide initiative to increase energy awareness and encourage smarter, more efficient usage by Americans), are cooperatively working to administer the prizes and the Challenge. Prizes will be paid to the winners by Grid 21.

A panel of judges will select a winner and one or two runners-up in three categories: Best Overall idea for using a DOE dataset, Best suggestion for a new dataset, Best "killer idea" for a new energy-related Application or service. The public will also select a Popular Choice Award winner in each category. Winners and runners-up will receive a cash prize. DOE will feature each category winner on the Challenge's website.

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Important Dates:

  • Submission Period Begins: November 6, 2013 at 09:00 AM ET
  • Submission Period Ends: November 29, 2013 at 11:59 PM ET
  • Judging Panel and Public Voting Period Begins: December 2, 2013 at 9:00 AM ET
  • Public Voting Period Ends: December 13, 2013 at 11:59 PM ET
  • Prizes Announced Between: December 16, 2013 and December 20, 2013
  • DOE reserves the right to extend the submission period at any time for any reason.

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How to Enter:

  • Between November 6, 2013 at 9:00 AM ET and November 29, 2013 at 11:59 PM ET, visit (the "Homepage") and click "Submit an Idea." You will be prompted to create an account by entering your name and email address.
  • After you sign up on the website, a confirmation email will be sent to the email address you provided. Use the confirmation email to verify your email address. As a registered Contestant, you will then be able to enter the Contest by making a Submission that conforms to the requirements set forth herein (each, a "Submission").
  • Complete the entry submission form on the Challenge website, consisting of either a written description of the idea (2,800 characters including spaces) or a link to a video posted to YouTube of no longer than 2 minutes and 30 seconds describing the idea. Submissions longer than 2,800 characters (written) or 2:30 (video) will not be eligible for a prize.

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Evaluation Criteria and Judging:

From Nov. 3 to Nov. 29, the public submitted ideas to one of three categories:

  • Best Idea for An Existing Dataset: (Prize Pot: $4,000) 
    Drawing from a list of existing Department of Energy public data resources, identify the dataset you think is most valuable. Describe why you think this data is valuable, and provide ideas for how the data could be used to help solve a problem. Contestants can also describe any ideas for improving the existing dataset (i.e. providing an API, or offering the data in a different format, etc.).
  • Best Idea for a "Wish List" Dataset: (Prize Pot: $2,000) 
    Contestants should describe the energy dataset that is on their "wish list" — a dataset that, if it existed, would be extremely valuable. Entries should describe what the dataset should contain, its ideal format, and how it could be used to solve a problem better than what is possible using currently available data.
  • Best "Killer Idea" for an Energy-focused Application or Service: (Prize Pot: $4,000) 
    Every "killer app" starts with a "killer idea"; an elegant solution to a pressing real-world problem. In this campaign, we're seeking these "killer ideas." You don't need to be a software developer to identify a great app idea. All you need is a good understanding of problem you're trying to solve. Ideas should include a clear problem statement, a description of the solution, and should identify the datasets (if applicable) required to make the application a reality.

Submissions (excluding the Popular Choice awards) will be judged on the following three criteria:

Scoring Criteria # 1: Effectiveness Potential

  • Ability to improve citizen and business touch points and interfaces with government, including access to data;
  • Ability to streamline and speed transactions with data consumers;
  • Harnesses the ingenuity of the public to do more than government can by itself;
  • The concept is new and interesting;
  • Utilizes or can be combined with citizen data, such as Green Button data.

Scoring Criteria #2: Efficiency Potential

  • Increases efficiency in core business operations;
  • Cuts inefficiencies by reducing business duplication, waste, fraud, and abuse;
  • Enables investment in innovation;
  • Utilizes shared services and common infrastructure;
  • Uses the Green Button Standard to assist in making commercial and government facilities more energy efficient.

Scoring Criteria # 3: Economic Impact Potential

  • Improves access to and the rate of utilization of DOE data and R&D investments;
  • Utilizes Green Button and DOE data as the fuel for new products, services and businesses;
  • The idea/app deals with a socially, environmentally or economically important issue;

Submissions will be judged by an expert panel as well as the public. The expert judging panel will be appointed by DOE, may include both Federal and non-Federal personnel, and will determine winners of the Contest. The Contest will also feature Popular Choice awards, to be determined by public vote. Public votes will be displayed on the Challenge Web site, but will be verified for integrity. The winners of the Popular Choice awards will be determined on the basis of the verified vote counts, as determined by DOE, and DOE reserves the right to suspend, cancel or extend the Popular Choice voting period at any time for any reason.

DOE will initially screen submissions for compliance with the Official Rules and the objectives of the Contest. The screened Submissions will be scored by the judges on a scale of 1-100 (one hundred being the highest) in a range of categories that reflect the above criteria. The average score in each category will be computed, and the average scores will be combined to compute a total score. The entries with the highest total scores will receive prizes.

It is of paramount importance to DOE that any use of open data or Green Button data protects privacy. Any Submission that presents a potential violation of this principle will be rejected by the judges.

Popular Choice Award:

The public will have the opportunity to select a Popular Choice award winner in each Submission category, which will be determined by public vote on the contest website during the Public Voting Period. Each registered visitor will be limited to one vote per day in each of the Submission categories. Any attempt to circumvent the one-vote limit per Submission category per day or to use any form of automated vote process will subject all votes from the person to disqualification. DOE may disqualify the votes and/or submissions of any users or Contestants seeking to defraud the voting process. The entry with the most verified votes in each Submission category will be deemed the Popular Choice winner.

Public votes may be displayed on the Contest website, on a real-time basis, before being verified for integrity. These unverified votes may not necessarily reflect accurately the winners of the Popular Choice awards.

The winners of the Popular Choice awards will be determined on the basis of the verified vote counts, as determined by DOE. DOE reserves the right to cancel or extend the voting period at any time for any reason.


The Submissions will be judged by the judges identified in the Contest website or by another qualified panel selected by DOE at its sole discretion. The panel will judge the Submissions on the judging criteria identified above in order to select winners in each category. Judges have the right to withdraw without advance notice in the event of circumstances beyond their control. Judges may not (A) have personal or substantial (over $500) financial interests in, or be an employee, officer, director, or agent of any entity that is a registered participant in a Challenge; or (B) have a familial or financial relationship with an individual who is a registered participant.

The decisions of the judges for the Contest will be announced in accordance with the dates noted in the "Important Dates" section of these rules.

Verification of Winners:


Winners must continue to comply with all terms and conditions of these Official Rules, and winning is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements contained herein. The Winners will be notified by email, telephone, or mail after the date of the judging. Each Winner (or Winner's parent/guardian if under 18 years of age), will be required to sign and return to DOE, within ten (10) days of the date notice being sent, an Affidavit of Eligibility and Liability/Publicity Release (except where prohibited) in order to claim any recognition. In the sole discretion of DOE, a potential winner will be deemed ineligible to win if: (i) the person/entity cannot be contacted; (ii) the person/entity fails to sign and return the affidavit of eligibility and liability/publicity release within the required time period; (iii) the prize or prize notification is returned as undeliverable; or (iv) the submission or person/entity is disqualified for any other reason. In the event of a disqualification of a winner, DOE in their sole discretion may award the applicable prize to an alternate winner.

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Available Open Data Resources:

The Department of Energy has many data resources and APIs available to the public. For Contest #1, you have a chance to explore these data resources in order to identify the datasets you think are most valuable.

As a starting point, explore the datasets listed in the catalogs below. You are also welcome to reference other DOE datasets you discover

Department of Energy Open Data Catalogs

  • EERE Energy Data Portal: Select sources of data on energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies from throughout EERE and from the DOE national laboratories. These data resources provide information such as prices, savings, use, and state statistics by technology. Also included are links to more comprehensive data collections, policy data resources, and supply and demand forecasts.
  • Energy Information Administration: Portal to data collected and published by the EIA. The U.S. Energy Information Administration collects, analyzes, and disseminates independent and impartial energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets, and public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment.
  • National Renewable Energy Data & Resources: Databases, maps, and tools produced by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. These resources are available to assess, analyze, and optimize renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies for your project.
  • A knowledge-sharing wiki, containing links to Department of Energy and other energy datasets, applications and articles.
  • National Library of Energy: The library "virtually integrates information from (the DOE website) and all DOE program offices, national laboratories and other facilities. The National LIbrary of Energy search feature provides one-stop, easy access to information in DOE's broad mission areas: science and R&D; energy and technology for industry and homeowners; energy market information and analysis; and nuclear security and environmental management."
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Data Sets: Data from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of natural gas, oil, and electricity.

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Submission and Eligibility Requirements

Submission Requirements

In order for Submissions to be eligible to win a Contest prize, they must meet the following requirements:

  • General - Contestants must provide a written submission(s) that is no greater than 2,800 characteres, or a link to a video posted on YouTube that is no longer than 2 minutes and 30 seconds in duration, that articulates the idea, issue or otherwise meets the criteria described when entering the text in the text field.
  • Data used - Data used must include or rely upon open data drawn from the Entry Portals list provided above. Mashing the data from other sources in conjunction with data found from Entry Portals, such as weather data, Green Button data, or location data is encouraged.
  • Open Data and Green Button Data Specifications - The data resources that are to be used by Contestants are the datasets that can be directly and legally accessed. Green Button data means formatted data produced by the system developed by the North American Energy Standards Board for providing web-based secure access to energy bill account information, energy usage information, and energy consumption and usage data to customers of utilities and energy providers for the purposes of business management and energy usage management. A partial list of electricity and gas service providers supporting Green Button data is available at .
  • Deadline - The Submission must be available for evaluation by the end date noted in the "Important Dates" section of these rules.
  • No DOE logo - Submission(s) must not use DOE's logo or official seal and must not claim DOE endorsement.
  • Functionality/Accuracy - Submission(s) may be disqualified if they can't be used as expressed in the description provided by the user, or if inaccurate information is supplied.
  • DOE will also screen submissions for Contestant eligibility, IT security, and compliance with Ideascale's Standards of Conduct. Once a Submission has been submitted, the Contestant cannot make any changes or alterations to any part of the Submission. Contestants may make multiple Submissions. Failing to meet Submission Requirements or other submission screenings will result in that Submission being deemed ineligible to win a prize. Posting to the Challenge website does not constitute DOE's final determination of Contestant or Submission eligibility.
  • Each Submission must be original, the work of the Contestant, and must not infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate any intellectual property rights, proprietary rights, privacy rights, moral rights or any other rights of any person or entity.
  • It is an express condition of Submission and eligibility that each Contestant warrants and represents that the Contestant's Submission is solely owned by the Contestant, that the Submission is wholly original with the Contestant, and that no other party has any ownership rights or ownership interest in the Submission.
  • Each Contestant further represents and warrants to DOE and the other Sponsors that the Submission, and any use thereof by DOE or the other Sponsors (or any of their respective partners, subsidiaries and affiliates), shall not: (i) be defamatory or libelous in any manner toward any person, (ii) constitute or result in any misappropriation or other violation of any person's publicity rights or right of privacy, or (iii) infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate any intellectual property rights, proprietary rights, privacy rights, moral rights or any other rights of any person or entity.
  • A Contestant may contract with a third party for technical assistance to create the Submission, provided the Submission is solely the Contestant's work product and the result of the Contestant's ideas and creativity and the Contestant owns all rights to it.
  • Each Submission must be in English or, if in a language other than English, the Submission must be accompanied by an English translation of that text.
  • Submissions will not be accepted if they contain any matter that, in the sole discretion of DOE, is indecent, obscene, defamatory, libelous, in bad taste, or demonstrates a lack of respect for public morals or conduct.
  • If DOE, or the Judges, in their discretion, find any Submission to be unacceptable, then such Submission shall be deemed disqualified.
  • No Previous Winners - Contestant may not submit an entry that is substantially similar to an entry that has previously been submitted by the Contestant to another contest and won a prize.

Contestant Eligibility

The Contest is open only to: (a) citizens or permanent residents of the United States who are at least thirteen (13) years old at the time of entry (or teams of eligible individuals); and (b) private entities, such as corporations or other organizations, that are incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States. Individuals submitting on behalf of corporations, nonprofits, or groups of individuals (such as an academic class or other team) must meet the eligibility requirements for individual participants. An individual may join more than one team, corporation, or nonprofit organization. DOE employees, employees of sponsoring organizations, and members of their immediate family (spouses, children, siblings, parents), and persons living in the same household as such persons, whether or not related, are not eligible to participate in the Contest.


Challenge submissions can be from an individual or a team (Team). If a team of individuals, a corporation, or an organization is selected as a prizewinner, DOE will award a single dollar amount to winning Team(s) and each Team, whether consisting of a single or multiple Contestants, is solely responsible for allocating any prize amount among its member Contestants as they deem appropriate. DOE will not arbitrate, intervene, advise on, or resolve any matters between entrant members. It will be up to the winning Team(s) to reallocate the prize money among its member Contestants, if they deem it appropriate.

Submission Rights

  • Ideas and videos submitted to the first part of the Challenge (Contest #1: The Energy Ideas Contest) must be submitted and released to the public under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License
  • By making a Submission, a Contestant is deemed to have thereby granted to DOE, Administrator, and any other third parties supporting DOE in the Contest, a royalty-free, non-exclusive, worldwide perpetual license to display publicly and use the Submission. This license includes posting or linking to the Public Submission on DOE's and Administrator's websites and applications, including the Challenge Website, DOE websites, and partner websites, and inclusion of the Submission in any other media, worldwide. The Submission may be viewed by the DOE, Administrator, and Judges for purposes of the Contest, including but not limited to screening and evaluation purposes. The DOE and Administrator, and any third parties acting on their behalf will also have the right to publicize Contestant's name and, as applicable, the names of Contestant's team members, Organization, or Large Organization which participated in the Submission on the Challenge website for a period of three years following the conclusion of the Challenge.


Each Contestant represents and warrants that the Contestant is the sole author and copyright owner of the Submission; that the Submission is an original work of the Contestant and that the Contestant has acquired sufficient rights to use and to authorize others, including DOE, to use the Submission, as specified throughout the Official Rules, that the Submission does not infringe upon any copyright or upon any other third party rights of which the Contestant is aware; and that the Submission is free of malware.

Submission Topic/Theme

All Submissions should meet the intent and spirit of the American Energy Data Challenge, and as previously defined in the Contest summary and described on the Contest website.

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Additional Terms and Conditions:

Challenge Subject to Applicable Law

The Challenge is subject to all applicable federal laws and regulations. Participation constitutes each Participant's full and unconditional agreement to these Official Rules and administrative decisions, which are final and binding in all matters related to the Contest. Eligibility for a prize award is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements set forth herein. This notice is not an obligation of funds; the final award of prizes is contingent upon the availability of appropriations.

Resolution of Disputes

The Department of Energy is solely responsible for administrative decisions, which are final and binding in all matters related to the Contest.

In the event of a dispute as to any registration, the authorized account holder of the email address used to register will be deemed to be the Contestant. The "authorized account holder" is the natural person or legal entity assigned an email address by an Internet access provider, online service provider or other organization responsible for assigning email addresses for the domain associated with the submitted address. Contestants and potential winners may be required to show proof of being the authorized account holder.


The winners of these prizes (collectively, "Winners") will be featured on the DOE website. Winners are responsible for reporting and paying all applicable federal, state and local taxes.

Except where prohibited, participation in the Contest constitutes each winner's consent to DOE's and its agents' use of each winner's name, likeness, photograph, voice, opinions, and/or hometown and state information for promotional purposes through any form of media, worldwide, without further permission, payment or consideration.

Liability and Insurance

Any and all information provided by or obtained from the Federal Government is without any warranty or representation whatsoever, including but not limited to its suitability for any particular purpose. Upon registration, all participants agree to assume and, thereby, have assumed any and all risks of injury or loss in connection with or in any way arising from participation in this Challenge, development of any application or the use of any application by the participants or any third-party. Upon registration all participants agree to and, thereby, do waive and release any and all claims or causes of action against the Federal Government and its officers, employees and agents for any and all injury and damage of any nature whatsoever (whether existing or thereafter arising, whether direct, indirect, or consequential and whether foreseeable or not), arising from their participation in the Challenge, whether the claim or cause of action arises under contract or tort. Upon registration, all participants agree to and, thereby, shall indemnify and hold harmless the Federal Government and its officers, employees and agents for any and all injury and damage of any nature whatsoever (whether existing or thereafter arising, whether direct, indirect, or consequential and whether foreseeable or not), including but not limited to any damage that may result from a virus, malware, etc., to Government computer systems or data, or to the systems or data of end-users of the software and/or application(s) which results, in whole or in part, from the fault, negligence, or wrongful act or omission of the participants or participants' officers, employees or agents.

Based on the subject matter of the Challenge, the type of work that it possibly will require, and the likelihood of any claims for death, bodily injury, or property damage, or loss potentially resulting from challenge participation, Participant is not required to obtain liability insurance or demonstrate fiscal responsibility in order to participate in this Challenge.

Standard Disclaimer

The following disclaimer is mandatory for applications deployed on non-DOE information systems. This standard disclaimer shall be incorporated into the software in such a way that individuals must read and accept its conditions before initial use (NOTE: The standard disclaimer must appear in all capital letters):


Records Retention and FOIA

All materials submitted to DOE as part of a Submission become DOE records and cannot be returned. Any confidential commercial information contained in a Submission should be designated at the time of submission. Submitters will be notified of any Freedom of Information Act requests for their Submissions in accordance with 29 C.F.R. ยง 70.26.

508 Compliance

Participants should keep in mind that the Department of Energy considers universal accessibility to information a priority for all individuals, including individuals with disabilities. In this regard, the Department is strongly committed to meeting its compliance obligations under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, to ensure the accessibility of its programs and activities to individuals with disabilities. This obligation includes acquiring accessible electronic and information technology. When evaluating Submissions for this Contest, the extent to which a Submission complies with the requirements for accessible technology required by Section 508 will be considered.


If you choose to provide DOE with personal information by registering or filling out the submission form through the Challenge website, that information is used to respond to you in matters regarding your submission and/or the Challenge only - unless you choose to receive updates or notifications about other Challenges from DOE on an opt-in basis. Information is not collected for commercial marketing. Please read the Ideascale Privacy Policy for complete information

General Conditions

DOE reserves the right to cancel, suspend, and/or modify the Challenge, or any part of it, if any fraud, technical failures, or any other factor beyond DOE's reasonable control impairs the integrity or proper functioning of the Challenge, as determined by DOE in its sole discretion. DOE is not responsible for, nor is it required to count, incomplete, late, misdirected, damaged, unlawful, or illicit votes, including those secured through payment or achieved through automated means.



Department of Energy Address:

Department of Energy
Office of Public Affairs, 7A-145
Attn: American Energy Data Challenge
1000 Independence Ave SW
Washington, DC, 20585


For questions about these Official Rules contact

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