A market in which individuals pursue their own self-interest normally maximizes aggregate economic well-being. But households that install Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) in order to obtain savings in their electricity bill, impose an external cost on other customers. At scale, their actions can lead to higher electricity tariffs for utility customers and, in the extreme case, a utility death spiral. In this paper, we propose a market mechanism that may ameliorate this potential distortion based on the creation of a market for risk. Utilities would provide reliability insurance services to households to protect them against the failure of their own DER systems. Creating such an insurance market would allow customers to choose a premium according to their preference for reliability. It could also limit the potential utility death spiral efficiently, as the path would be driven by market mechanisms that arise after reassigning property rights and liabilities between utilities and their customers.November 26, 2018
Jorge is a former research fellow specializing in energy and economics, with research interests in energy and macroeconomics, energy policies and transitions.