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Using Customer Preferences to Guide Grid-Conscious Rate Design

January 18 @ 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EST


Event Details

The energy mix is evolving toward lower carbon, but more intermittent sources and the electric grid is facing reliability challenges driven in part by extreme weather and a changing climate. Moving more customers to time differentiated rates, and providing better economic signals, could help consumers align their energy consumption with times of plentiful, lower carbon energy, and reduce usage when the grid is stressed.

It is in this context that the California Investor-Owned-Utilities (IOUs) have been instructed by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to roll out dynamic, hourly rates to customers. PG&E commissioned a large-scale customer research study to help inform its customer-focused rate pilot and rollout strategy. This research included 10 sector-specific focus groups, 25 interviews with large commercial and industrial (C&I) customers, and a choice experiment (conjoint) survey with 2,908 residential, small and medium business (SMB), and agricultural customers. The choice experiment quantified the relative importance of six design attributes (addressing rate design, load and bill management, price response and automation), and granular customer segment specific preferences across a total of 864 design configurations, calibrated to observed real world uptake.

This innovative study was designed to provide realistic, personalized choices to respondents by incorporating respondent-specific expected bill impact ranges dynamically calculated in the survey for every configuration shown, incorporating both rate design features and price response features tailored to respondent characteristics and technology (e.g., climate, load factor, PV, EV, battery storage). The study data was used to build dynamic adoption simulations of expected load reductions and bill savings, as well as adoption for any configuration tested (individually or side by side). These results, which are grounded in customer preference data, will help develop a customer-focused roadmap proposal to help design dynamic rates tailored to work for different customer segments and sectors, and at a pace that works for customer needs and preferences.

After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Explain an end-to-end qualitative research process for designing and implementing customer preference research that can inform rate or program design.
  • Conceptualize an innovative survey / interview approach which incorporates live bill impact estimates and simulated choice experiments.
  • Illustrate how to use customer preferences and data-driven uptake simulations to guide rate design roadmaps
Liz Kelley

Liz Kelley

Director of Qualitative Research, ILLUME Advising

Dr. Elizabeth Kelley is an anthropologist with nearly 15 years of experience conducting ethnography and qualitative research. Her formal training in linguistic and cultural anthropology helps her identify drivers and barriers to participation and how energy fits into everyday life on the human side of the meter. In her role as a Director of Qualitative Research at ILLUME, she trains staff and guides our work in ethnographic interviews, focus groups, concept testing groups, usability testing, message testing, and virtual interviews and focus groups. She is passionate about elevating customer voices through research and helping clients create solutions that align with and speak to customers’ values. When Liz is not uncovering insights for our clients into customer perceptions, preferences, and behaviors, you can find her reading a good book or baking with her son.

Stephanie Bieler

Stephanie Bieler

Principal Consultant, Demand Side Analytics, LLC

Ms. Bieler is a Principal Consultant based in Denver, Colorado. She focuses on demand-side management evaluation projects, as well as strategic market assessments and planning studies. Stephanie has led several demand response market potential studies for investor-owned utilities and evaluated several of the largest DR programs in California. She has also studied and quantified the value of resilience and grid modernization investments by estimating customer interruption costs. Stephanie earned her Master’s degree at Stanford University, where she specialized in resource management, geographic information systems (GIS), and advanced statistical analysis.


January 18
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EST
Event Category:


(480) 704-5900
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