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emPower: Accurately Valuing Distributed Energy Resources

The addition of distributed energy resources onto the grid creates new opportunities and challenges because of their unique siting, operational, and ownership characteristics compared to conventional centralized resources.

Today, the increasingly rapid adoption of distributed solar photovoltaics (DPV) in particular is driving a heated debate about whether DPV creates value for the electric system or imposes costs. But the wide variation in analysis approaches and quantitative tools used by different parties in different jurisdictions is inconsistent, confusing, and frequently lacks transparency. Without increased understanding of the benefits and costs of distributed energy resources, there is little ability to make effective tradeoffs between investments.

This comprehensive study reviews 15 DPV benefit/cost studies to assess what is known and unknown about the categorization, methodological best practices, and gaps around the benefits and costs of DPV, and to begin to establish a clear foundation from which additional work on benefit/cost assessments and pricing structure design can be built.

September 2013: RMI released a second edition of A Review of Solar PV Benefit & Costs Studies. The second edition updates the original with the inclusion of Xcel Energy's May 2013 study, Costs and Benefits of Distributed Solar Generation on the Public Service Company of Colorado, as well as clarifies select descriptions and charts.

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