- How can we understand and effectively communicate the real costs and benefits of distributed resources as part of the electricity system?
- How can we harmonize regulatory frameworks, pricing structures, and business models of utilities and distributed resource developers to enable varied solutions that yield the greatest benefit to customers and society as a whole?
- How can we accelerate the pace of economic distributed resource adoption?
A multi-year program, e¯Lab regularly brings together key actors to identify, test, and spread practical solutions to the challenges inherent in these questions. e¯Lab meetings enable members to share learnings, best practices, and analysis results; collaborate around key issues or needs; and conduct deep dives into research and analysis findings. In addition to bringing actors together, e¯Lab undertakes projects that allow the group to explore complex issues in depth, develop well thought-out insights and recommendations, and partner with other stakeholders to test and apply new ideas. e¯Lab is currently working on four such projects:
- Shared Vision. The lack of a shared vision among electricity industry stakeholders slows progress and sometimes drives them to work at cross-purposes. Having a unifying sense of purpose and greater stakeholder engagement around that purpose is key to effectively and efficiently transforming the electricity system. Based on these needs, the Shared Vision project’s purpose is to orient e¯Lab participants around a common sense of purpose, align project efforts for greatest effect, and ultimately inform and engage others.
- emPower. emPower addresses two needs: insufficient ability to make relative valuations between investments in centralized and distributed resources, and insufficient knowledge and tools to understand the costs and values of distributed resources. Phase 1 of emPower identified what is known and unknown around the categorization of costs and values, methodological best practices, and gaps in understanding and approach. In the ongoing Phase 2, the project team is developing a framework to bring clarity and consistency to the language and concepts industry stakeholders use to describe the costs and values of distributed energy resources. It is also working to fill important modeling gaps necessary to accurately assess the costs and values of distributed resources.
- New Business Models. The increasing role of distributed energy resources in the electricity system is leading to a shift in the fundamental business model paradigm of the industry. To support the transition, new utility business models will need to provide versatile and flexible platforms that harmonize the interests of electricity providers, customers, and distributed resource developers at the distribution edge. The project team is framing clear objectives and principles around the design of electricity business models, reflecting the variety of perspectives on this topic, and taking the first step towards identifying viable new models.
- Innovation Beacon. This project is designed to help meet the urgent need for greater opportunities for innovation in the electricity sector. Innovation Beacon conducts design charrettes for microgrids, other aggregations of distributed resources, and relevant economic and deployment issues at the distribution edge. It develops case studies of ongoing projects innovating around these issues.