It is safe to say that all electricity customers want reliable and resilient power service. One way that some end-users are ensuring they get it is by investing in distributed energy resources and building microgrids. But rather than simply using these systems as emergency backups, more and more owners are finding ways to capture economic benefits from them. Distributed energy resources can help shave peak loads, shift time-of-use, and support ancillary services, which all provide value to owners.

Nonetheless, utilities generally set the rules; they establish the rate tariffs. As such, utilities have the ability to alter how the game is played. According to Amy Simpkins, CEO of muGrid, there are a number of ways that utilities can influence how large commercial and industrial customers behave.

Simpkins will give a presentation at the Distributed Energy Conference in Golden, Colorado, October 15–17, 2018, during which she will offer a few case studies and show some sensitivity analysis. What would happen if demand charges were increased? What if the look-back period was modified? What if time-of-use rates were shuffled? Simpkins’ presentation—“How to Incentivize Your Utility Customers to Do What You Want”—will focus on the “knobs utilities can turn” to sway customer behavior. Attendees may find that power companies have more control than they realize over what customers choose to do in the end. Furthermore, the solutions can often be win-win.

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Aaron Larson is POWER’s executive editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine).