Washington, DC, U.S.A. --- (METERING.COM) --- July 22, 2013 - Starting a time-based rate study or wanting to compare a number of studies? – then a new publication jointly funded by the Smart Grid Investment Grant program and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) should help.

Prepared by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and EPRI, the publication Quantifying the Impacts of Time-based Rates, Enabling Technology, and Other Treatments in Consumer Behavior Studies: Protocols and Guidelines, is intended to be a single source primer on evaluation designs and methods that are available for program planners and analysts.

In implementing price and demand response pilots, utilities have used a variety of design, execution, and evaluation methods. These differences have made it difficult to compare readily and usefully the conclusions drawn across studies, leaving many important aspects about customers’ use and value of electricity unanswered. In response, many policymakers continue the cycle by compelling their regulated utilities to undertake their own unique research efforts to characterize the way in which behavioral inducements influence electricity consumption.

The potential exists for these initiatives to fill many of these remaining gaps in our knowledge and advance our understanding of electricity customer behavior. However, a substantial effort at this juncture to provide guidance on the research design, analysis and coordination across studies may eliminate any serious methodological shortcomings and avoid the squandering of scarce resources which would have resulted in a duplication of effort, missed opportunities, and/or misleading findings.

The report proposes six essential components to any consumer behavior study evaluation:
Identify questions → Select reference load model → Validate reference load model → Estimate load impacts → Estimate demand models → Report results.

Among the recommendations are that estimations should be reported in four standardized formats (where the impact hour is the hour of interest for the evaluation) for ease of comparability across pilots:

  • Average kWh reduction per customer per impact hour (e.g. 0.5 kWh per weekday peak hour per customer)
  • Average percent energy reduction per impact hour (e.g. 40% per weekday peak hour per customer)
  • Total energy conservation – average kWh reduction per customer per month over all hours in that month (e.g. $0.40 kWh per month per customer)
  • Average percent energy reduction per month over all hours in that month (e.g. 4% per month per customer).

The report notes that analysts are charged with conducting the best possible scientifically directed evaluation and providing interpretations of the results. An experiment or pilot that is fully evaluated using the proper methods is a success, regardless of the outcome.