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Research Projects

2018-2019 Seed Grant Projects

Using Behavioral Economics to Forecast Energy Consumer Engagement and Response

Forecasting consumer behavioral responses to incentive programs and new technologies can be challenging. Combining psychological and economic survey methods can yield nuanced findings that capture the diversity of consumer decision-making for use in forecasting models. This project seeks to identify current gaps in knowledge on consumer response to incentives and energy technologies, design and deploy surveys to explore and model causal mechanisms of decision-making and consumer heterogeneity, integrate findings into current forecasting models.

Utility Business Models and Technological Obsolescence

Utility business models are predicated on cost recovery of long lived, capital intensive, investments over 25 to 40 years. Rapid technological change at the grid edge threatens this paradigm, creating premature obsolescence risk due to rapid technological change. How should we alter current rate making processes to de-risk the utility business model for rapid grid edge evolution? What can we learn from previous instances of rapid technological change/premature obsolescence in other regulated industries that can inform the electric utility context today? How might changes to utility cost recovery practices impact the competition between electric utilities and DER? This project seeks to achieve the following goals: Assess current depreciation practices across the electric utilities in the most rapidly growing DER markets. Evaluate current depreciation related controversies in light of issues raised by technological change. Develop case studies of economic and legal consequences of rapid technological change in other regulated industries (rail, telecoms, street cars, etc). Initiate a conversation in the electricity policy community about how to price risk of technological obsolescence in order to avoid creation of stranded assets.