ORIGINAL REPORTING: Are Electricity Customers Ready For Dynamic Pricing?
Beyond TOU: Is more dynamic pricing the future of rate design? Analysts say sending stronger price signals to residential ratepayers could help reduce peak demand, but consumer advocates are leery
Herman K. Trabish, July 17, 2017 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Surprisingly, the wonky topic of utility rate design is becoming cool as more people realize it could be the key to bringing New Energy into the power system.
Innovative ratemaking is the talk of the town. Trials of time-of-use rates, demand charges and time varying pricing are playing a growing role in the transformation of the electric power sector. California will deploy default time-of-use (TOU) rates in 2019 at an unprecedented scale. Landmark regulatory debates across the country have been resolved in recent months by stakeholder agreements to explore new ways to use rates to control spiking peaks. And research is beginning to point toward what works and what doesn’t. The magnitude of a TOU rate’s impact on peak demand depends on the off-peak to on-peak price ratio, Brattle Group Principal Ahmad Faruqui told Utility Dive. He also concluded that TOU rates are just a hint of how rate design can be used to lower electricity customer costs and integrate more clean energy. The better solution is dynamic pricing, he said.
Faruqui’s conclusions are based on a Brattle study of 300 TOU pilots and trials. Unlike TOU rates, which include a modest price differential on each day, dynamic pricing involves alerting customers to steeper increases in per-kWh rates in advance of specific peak demand events. Instead of a small differential every day, the larger gap between peak and off-peak pricing is meant to drive more significant reductions during the highest demand days. Jayant Kairam, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) California Clean Energy Director, sees TOU rates as a way the state can reliably and cost-effectively deploy DER. Research done for state regulators showed TOU rates could help save up to $700 billion annually by 2025. But Faruqui argues that advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and dynamic pricing has the potential to better align pricing and costs with price signals that guide customer usage… click here for more
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