Final report summarizing results of eleven Smart Grid Investment Grant funded consumer behavior studies of time-based rates

May 4, 2017

Since 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the electric power industry have jointly invested over $7.9 billion in 99 cost-shared Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) projects.  Ten electric utilities agreed to conduct eleven consumer behavior studies (CBS) and produce comprehensive reports with the aim of evaluating customer responses to various types of time-based rate programs implemented in conjunction with information and control technologies such as in-home displays (IHD) and programmable communicating thermostats (PCT).

Major findings from the final Berkeley Lab analysis of the SGIG CBS utility evaluations include:

Peak period demand reductions for TOU were much higher, on average, for the highest peak to off-peak price ratios (18% for treatments with a peak to off-peak price ratio greater than 4:1) than for the lowest price ratios (6% for treatments with a peak to off-peak price ratio less than 2:1).  When PCTs were available, the differences in average peak period demand reductions were only affected at peak to off-peak price ratios in excess of 2:1 (21% vs. 10% for price ratios between 2:1 and 3:1 and 23% vs. 15% for price ratios in excess of 4:1).

Average peak demand reductions for customers taking service on Critical Peak Pricing (CPP) rates were almost twice the size (20%) than they were for customers participating in Critical Peak Rebate (CPR) programs (6%).  However, when automated controls (PCTs) were provided, peak demand reductions were both larger and the differences were reduced (35% for CPP and 26% for CPR).

Opt-out enrollment rates were about 3.5 times higher than they were for opt-in, and retention rates for both were about the same. While demand reductions for opt-in customers were generally higher, one utility found opt-out enrollment approaches to be more cost-effective than comparable opt-in offers due to significantly higher aggregate benefits and lower marketing costs.

The report may be accessed here.

We appreciate the funding support of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.

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