DOE Releases Initial Report on Enrollment Patterns in Time-Based Rate Programs

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE) is pleased to announce the publication of a new report from the Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) program, which is a grid modernization activity funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The report, based on an analysis by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), focuses on 9 of the 99 SGIG projects that are conducting a total of 11 consumer behavior studies of time-based rates and customer systems enabled by investments in advanced metering infrastructure.  All eleven studies are using some form of a voluntary (opt-in) recruitment effort, although three are augmenting this with an opt-out approach to study the impacts on acceptance, retention and response to differences in recruitment methods.  A variety of different rate designs are being implemented both across the studies but also within the same study including: critical peak pricing, critical peak rebate, variable peak pricing, and time of use pricing.  Several studies are augmenting the rate offering with customer systems, such as programmable communicating thermostats or in-home displays.

This initial analysis of  enrollments show a range of  recruitment rates, which are defined as the number of recruited customers divided by the number of solicited customers, for opt-in offers (5% to 28%) and opt-out offers (78% to 87%). The analysis assesses whether the type of rate design as well as the offer of an in-home display affect recruitment rates.  An initial summary of experiences of the different phases of recruitment illustrate the importance of taking a customer-centric approach.

Although the results do carry some implications for future policies and program implementation strategies, more information remains to be collected and analyzed from the SGIG consumer behavior studies to explore root causes for differences in customer choices and preferences for different time-based rate programs and customer systems, within these controlled experimental settings.  These and other important public policy issues will be included in future reports on these topics. All will be posted on