Evolving Grid Services, Products, and Market Opportunities for Regulated Electric Utilities

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This report and policy brief focus on the more recent changes and evolutions in grid services, products, and market opportunities regulated electric utilities are offering to their customers, both traditional end-use electric customers as well as third-party party businesses.  Drawing on a database of more than 50 recent examples, the most prevalent and significant evolutions are occurring in: residential retail rate design shifts toward voluntary and default time-of-use (TOU); changes to distributed generation (DG) compensation methodologies; utilization of customer and non-utility assets as non-wires alternatives (NWAs); and utility investments in electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure.

Important and related themes emerge from this assessment of recent trends suggesting regulators and policymakers should formulate clear and consistent policy goals around the following two issues:

  1. Opportunities increasing competition to serve the electricity needs of retail customers.  Reforms that drive increases in NWAs and DG pit utility investments against customer investments and may erode the exclusivity of the utility franchise.  In contrast, reforms to DG compensation, that may reduce the financial benefits of a customer’s investment, may maintain or strengthen the firmness of the utility franchise boundaries.
  2. Opportunities driving greater innovation within and outside the electric industry.  Electric utilities are innovating by developing novel NWA opportunities that can provide financial support for the broader adoption of DERs. There are also electric utility efforts to enable broader innovation in other industries, where utility investment in EV charging infrastructure could promote greater EV ownership and enable utility control of these resources to provide grid services. 

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