Colorado PUC receives U.S. Department of Energy support for research on electricity time-of-use rates

DENVER (Feb. 12, 2019) – Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) economics staff will have an improved ability to assess time-of-use (TOU) electric rates due to analytical support for the next year from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The DOE’s Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium (GMLC) announced on Feb. 7 that the Colorado PUC was selected to receive technical assistance from the national laboratories to support ongoing research on TOU electric rates. The assistance will help PUC staff assess ongoing TOU rate trials and pilot projects, as well as consider the potential for rolling out well-designed time-based rates to all Colorado residential customers in the future.

The announcement follows a year of collaboration between economists at the PUC and experts at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, provided by the U.S. DOE’s SunShot Analytical Support program for state commissions.

The GMLC is a strategic partnership between the U.S. DOE and the national laboratories to collaborate on the goal of modernizing the nation’s grid. The technical assistance makes experts at the national laboratories available to work with PUC economists for up to a year to better understand the design, considerations, and impacts of next-generation electricity pricing for residential customers.

Under TOU rates, the cost of electricity varies according to the time of day, and sometimes by season, to reflect how electricity does not always cost the same to provide at each moment of the day or across a season.

In November 2016, the Colorado PUC approved an opt-in TOU rate trial for Xcel Energy’s residential electricity customers, which now includes nearly 10,000 participants, and in June 2018, directed Black Hills Energy to develop an opt-out TOU rate pilot. A growing number of other jurisdictions and municipalities, including Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and rural electric cooperatives, also are offering TOU rates.


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Terry Bote