Utility Regulation & Business Models

Berkeley Lab’s Electricity Markets & Policy Group (EMP Group) performs quantitative analysis, provides technical assistance, and explores the potential future state of electric utility regulation and business models in areas such as rate design, clean energy technology adoption, grid modernization and value-added electricity services. This work builds on decades of research in five related areas: energy efficiency, renewable energy, customer adoption of technologies, demand response and smart grid, and retail rate design.

For the past decade, the Utility Regulation/Business Models area has quantified, through independent research or in collaboration with state regulators and policy makers, the financial impacts of energy efficiency and other distributed energy resources on electric utility shareholders and ratepayers to better understand how existing and potential business models for regulated utilities align with public policy goals. It also provides primary research and technical assistance on design and implementation of regulatory paradigms for electric utilities, as well as utility business model frameworks to explore the alignment of regulated utility business models and achievement of public policy goals.

Future Electric Utility Regulation Series

The electric sector in the United States is facing a range of challenges and opportunities created by new and improved technologies, changing customer desires, low load growth in many regions, and federal and state policies and regulations. This new series of reports, produced by the EMP Group, takes a unique point-counterpoint approach to highlight different views on the future of electric utility regulation and business models and on achieving a reliable, affordable, and flexible power system.

FINDER Model

The FINancial impacts of Distributed Energy Resources (FINDER) model quantifies changes in utility costs and revenues, as well as the financial impacts to utility shareholders and customers with the addition of demand-side and distributed energy resources (DERs) like energy efficiency, demand response, and distributed solar. The model can also assess incremental changes to utility regulatory and business models, like alternative rate designs, revenue decoupling, and utility financial incentives, and the efficacy of such approaches to mitigate negative financial impacts due to increased DER adoption.

Quantitative Analysis of Utility Regulatory and Business Model Issues

Through independent research or in collaboration with state regulators and policy makers, the EMP Group quantifies the financial impacts of distributed energy resources on electric utility shareholders and ratepayers—as well as various alternative utility regulatory and business models that could be implemented to mitigate any negative financial impacts. Our quantitative analysis also draws on and includes a broad range of related work from other EMP research areas, including valuation of renewable energy resources and the impacts of retail rate design and net metering on the customer-economics of distributed solar.

Technical Assistance on Utility Business Models

The EMP Group provides technical assistance to states that are considering possible changes to regulations and policies to advance public policy goals for the electricity sector, including grid modernization, resiliency, customer empowerment, and environmental improvement.