Getting it Right: Policy Recommendations on Distributed Energy Resources for the Evolving Electric Power Sector (2014)

Client Organization: 
Institute for Electric Innovation (IEE), DTE Energy
Client is confirmed: 
Project Location : 
Managed from Washington, DC in coordination with DTE's Ann Arbor, MI office.
Secondary Client Organization: 
DTE Energy
Summary of Project Idea: 

This project focused on how state-level regulators might best react to the growing share of electricity coming from small-scale solar energy and potentially other forms of distributed generation. Electric utilities are concerned that current policies such as net metering compensating the owners of distributed generation will raise the rates for the other ratepayers and eventually threaten the recovery of fixed costs for utilities. Proponents of distributed generation on the other hand criticize that the owners of distributed generation are insufficiently compensated for the societal benefits they provide. This issue has led to fierce debates over future net metering regulations in states such as Arizona or California. Our study explores the problem and offers solutions to balance the interest of electric utilities, owners of distributed generation, and ratepayers. 

Skills/Expertise Needed: 
  • Basic knowledge of the electric power sector, including how it operates and is regulated.
  • Intermediate knowledge of benefit-cost analysis methods.
  • Professional level writing skills
  • MS Excel, PowerPoint, Word
  • Adobe InDesign (optional)
Secondary Client Confirmed: 
SEAS Program Areas: 
Environmental Policy and Planning
Sustainable Systems
Professional Career Development Benefits: 

IEE and DTE Energy are committed to providing a professional level experience to students interested in a career in energy and environmental fields.  Career development benefits include:  

  • Arrange presentation and networking opportunities at professional conferences.
  • Connect project team with representatives from the electric utilities and stakeholder bodies that form IEE's Strategy and Advisory Committees.  
  • Distribute project findings to key media contacts.
  • Brief the 22 electric industry Chief Executive Officers that comprise IEE's Management Committee on the key project findings.

Key skills and experiences to be gained include:

  • Learn how utilities develop and administer residential customer renewable energy policies and programs.
  • Understand how electricity rates are determined.
  • Explore how information technologies are being used to support the development of distributed energy sources.

Visit the following link to learn about IEE's Mission, Governance, and Committees:

Funding Sources: 

IEE will supplement the University of Michigan funding available to the student team after such funding is exhausted.

Identify expected products/deliverables: 
  • A final report that provides analysis and recommendations on DER policies for consideration by electric utilities and other stakeholders.
  • A presentation slide deck.
  • A copy of collateral material such as MS Excel workbooks used to develop exhibits featured in the report and presentation. 
Contact full name: 
Adam Cooper
Job title: 
Research Manager
State or Country: 
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Tom Lyon
Contact Phone: 
Advisor Confirmed: 
Contact information: 
U-M faculty member
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Chad Dibble, MBA/MS Sustainable Systems
  • Braeden Gilchrist, MS Sustainable Systems
  • Ryan Moody, MS Sustainable Systems
  • Will Morrison, MBA/MS Sustainable Systems
  • Markus Walther, MBA/MS Sustainable Systems
  • David Wang, MBA/MS Sustainable Systems 
  • Hui Zhou, MA Economics/MS Environmental Policy and Planning and Sustainable Systems
Project Status: 
Past Project