The Challenges: Getting regulatory approval for smart grid projects. Monetizing benefits.

The Help: Electric Power Research Institute’s (“EPRI”) new guidebook for cost/benefit analysis of smart grid demonstration projects. Even utilities who are not doing stimulus demonstration projects can find the book beneficial. It presents a step-by-step framework and standardized approach for estimating the benefits and costs of smart grid demonstration projects. This volume, released last month, updates and supersedes the material in the original volume one published in 2011, but goes further by providing in-depth information on the monetization of benefits. According to EPRI, it contains detailed discussion of the first 21 steps, from initial project definition to monetization of benefits and applies these steps to a specific smart grid technology to illustrate how the methodology can be applied.

EPRI says the guidebook is unique in its level of technical specificity and in the range of technologies it is intended to cover. It will complement previous publications that deal with the concepts of cost/benefit analysis as applied to the smart grid. Finally, it is intended to help utilities produce evaluations that meet reporting requirements for DOE-funded smart grid projects, as well as provide the types of information that regulatory commissions are likely to require in order to approve the investments for cost recovery through regulated rates.

This graphic is from a presentation made by EPRI at the NARUC Annual Meeting on November 13, 2011 and it is still relevant:

In addition to the EPRI material, the Business Case/Cost Recovery Resources link on this blog has several additional resources utilities may find helpful. Happy 2013!