In 2015, the Eversource Energy Center was founded at UConn with the mission of ensuring reliable power during extreme weather and security events. Since then, the Center has pursued this mission through leading-edge research, both to predict and reduce power outages caused by the increasingly frequent extreme weather events resulting from climate change and to address and mitigate the causes of climate change itself.
This context is important to consider in light of misunderstandings perpetuated in the Feb. 9 editorial in the Daily Campus (“It’s Time to Ditch Eversource”), which incorrectly stated that “hefty investments” by Eversource in the on-campus research center would “lock UConn into a dangerous position, whereby it is wholly dependent on one private firm to connect it to the state’s energy grid.”
The editorial assumes a nonexistent link and reflects a lack of the understanding of how partnerships between universities and industry work. It also disregards the center’s academic and research contributions to the state, UConn, its students, and wider society beyond our state borders.
Simply put, the Eversource Energy Center at UConn is a research entity; Eversource Energy is a utilities company with which UConn has a separate business relationship as a backup and supplement to the on-campus Cogeneration Plant. Neither influences nor controls the other, nor can one control or impede the activities of the other, as the editorial suggests.
In its eight years of operation, the Eversource Energy Center at UConn has established itself as a valuable resource to help predict outages before storms, facilitating and accelerating recovery for businesses and homeowners across the state.
That service, while among its most visible, is only one of many the center has provided and will continue to provide in years to come. These include advancing wind power and water conservation, conducting research toward the integration of sustainable energy sources into the power grid, and fostering student research to design renewable-energy microgrids for rural Ethiopia, among many others. To date, the center has funded 145 students at the graduate and undergraduate levels, 10 postdoctoral researchers, and 49 UConn faculty. Through its new Grid Modernization Certificate Program, it is also preparing early-career engineers for careers in managing an electric grid made ever more complex by the transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy.
The misunderstandings perpetuated in the Daily Campus editorial could have the unfortunate result of causing UConn students and others to miss out on learning what the Eversource Energy Center is really about, and of taking advantage of opportunities to contribute to its work. With that work, the center not only advances major research in science and engineering; it addresses the very fiscal and environmental challenges that were the focus of the editorial.