Since at least the late 1970s, electric utilities and their regulators have recognized the value of experimentation to motivate innovation. The industry has a long history of using pilots to help inform future decision making about electric utility rates, customer technology adoption and integration, and even changes to the utility’s regulatory or business model. Although utility pilots have become almost ubiquitous proving grounds for new rates, technologies, and alterations to the traditional utility regulatory and business model, some regulators are beginning to raise questions about what constitutes a “good” pilot. Much has been written about utility pilots over the years; however, what is missing from the literature is the identification of a comprehensive process for not only designing and evaluating a pilot, but also implementing, successful utility pilots that provide actionable outcomes upon which more informed decisions can be made. This report provides a step-by-step process that regulators, policymakers, and utilities can follow to help promote more successful pilots. It is worth noting that this report is not intended to serve as a technical resource for those designing, implementing, and evaluating pilots. However, there are myriad references provided for those wishing to delve deeper into the technical details.
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A webinar discussing this research, recorded on September 18, 2020, can be viewed here.