American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: Interim Report on Customer Acceptance, Retention, and Response to Time-Based Rates from the Consumer Behavior Studies

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Time-based rate programs, enabled by utility investments in advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), are increasingly being considered by utilities as tools to reduce peak demand and enable customers to better manage consumption and costs.

There are several customer systems that are relatively new to the marketplace and have the potential for improving the effectiveness of these programs, including in-home displays (IHDs), programmable communicating thermostats (PCTs), and web portals. Policy and decision makers are interested in more information about customer acceptance, retention, and response before moving forward with expanded deployments of AMI-enabled new rates and technologies.

Under the Smart Grid Investment Grant Program (SGIG), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) partnered with several utilities to conduct consumer behavior studies (CBS). The goals involved applying randomized and controlled experimental designs for estimating customer responses more precisely and credibly to advance understanding of time-based rates and customer systems, and provide new information for improving program designs, implementation strategies, and evaluations. The intent was to produce more robust and credible analysis of impacts, costs, benefits, and lessons learned and assist utility and regulatory decision makers in evaluating investment opportunities involving time-based rates.

To help achieve these goals, DOE developed technical guidelines to help the CBS utilities estimate customer acceptance, retention, and response more precisely. The guidelines were also intended to help the utilities identify the key drivers motivating customers to join programs and take actions to change their electricity consumption behaviors. 

This report presents results from the interim evaluations for six utilities and both the interim and final evaluations for four utilities that were completed by December 31, 2014:
  • DTE Energy (DTE) – interim and final 
  • Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (CEIC) – interim
  • Green Mountain Power (GMP) – interim
  • Lakeland Electric (LE) – interim
  • Marblehead Municipal Light Department (MMLD) – interim and final
  • Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E) – interim and final
  • Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) – interim and final
The CBS utilities included in this report comprise a generally representative group of utility types, sizes, and regions of the country.

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The final report in this series is also available for download here.


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