The effects of distributed solar on utilities and their customers
Beppler, Ross C.
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This dissertation evaluates the impact increasing penetrations of distributed solar will have on the electricity industry. It reconciles an analysis of the effect of increasing DPV penetration at the system scale, with an understanding of how installing DPV alters behavior at the household level. To provide such a comprehensive view on the role of DPV in the evolving utility, I construct a utility financial model and populate that with customer load and solar data. I compliment that analysis with utility billing data to gain insights on the interaction between solar installation, rate design, and electricity consumption. Results indicate that solar is likely to exacerbate existing inequities in cost allocation, the value of the solar resource is highly contextual, and installing solar is likely to change household energy consumption patterns. By incorporating insights from the macro and micro level, I demonstrate the need for markets, regulations, and rates which send appropriate signals to encourage system level efficiencies. This dissertation bridges utility modeling literature with empirical work to better understand prosumer behavior and shed light on the future of utility operations.