The FINDER model can be used to explore changes in utility costs and revenues, impacts on customers that install energy efficiency and distributed energy resources (DERs) compared to non-participating customers, customer-class impacts (including the magnitude of cross-subsidization and different levels of bill impacts), and alternative ratemaking approaches and rate designs, such as time-of-use, tiered rates, and rate caps. The model can be used to consider impacts bounded by different DER penetration levels and customer defection scenarios.
Berkeley Lab adapted the FINDER model from a tool initially constructed to support the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency and analyze the financial impacts of energy efficiency programs on utility shareholders and ratepayers under alternative utility business models. Berkeley Lab has since enhanced the model to more realistically represent ratemaking and regulatory processes at the state level and added functionality to represent a range of demand-side programs, DERs, and utility financial incentives. The FINDER model has been reviewed and vetted by regulators, utility staff, stakeholders such as consumer advocates, energy efficiency program administrators, and solar photovoltaic system installers.
The model relies on utility characterization inputs such as cost forecasts, frequency of rate case filings, and capital expansion plans—as well as estimated DER costs and hourly savings. Key metrics calculated include the utility’s return on equity and earnings, as well as retail customer rates and bills.