After a two-year development project including application at 15 utilities, the Smart Grid Investment Model (SGIM) is now available for application at all electric utilities.

Turnkey Analysis: Let Consortium staff conduct your smart grid business case analysis using your utility and customer data with the industry's only comprehensive, quantitative cost/benefit model that applies utility-specific smart grid hourly load impacts.

Stand-alone software application: If you prefer, the Consortium will implement the model using your utility and customer data, provide the software, and train your staff in its use including online coaching and applications support.

"What-if" evaluations: The SGIM quantitative framework supports an unlimited number of technology, program and market scenario analysis ensuring a comprehensive consideration of all smart grid investment options in developing a smart grid strategy.

Unprecedented scalability and continuity: The SGIM is scalable, designed to support utility smart grid investment analysis over a decade or more. Model add-in modules are designed to support extended analysis including substation/feeder level DA and volt/VAR analysis, distributed storage, electric vehicles, distributed energy resources and more.

Continuous maintenance: The Consortium will maintain your SGIM indefinitely, ready to support renewed smart grid investment needs that arise from changes in technologies, and other factors. SGIM scalability and continuous maintenance provide unrivaled business case analysis at a fraction of the cost compared to traditional one-off approaches applied by most consulting firms.

Turnkey Analysis: Let Us Conduct Your Smart Grid Business Case Analysis  

Let objective, vendor-neutral, Consortium staff evaluate your utility's smart grid business case using the industry's only comprehensive financial framework developed in cooperation with fifteen utilities. We provide all financial data development, Smart Grid Investment Model implementation, analysis, recommendations and continuing support for each utility's smart grid business case evaluations. Activities include:

  • Onsite Consortium staff interviews to develop information on utility costs, current infrastructure and utility investment criteria
  • Utility-specific cost/benefit parameters and hourly load impact models
  • Smart Grid Investment Model (SGIM) Implementation
    • Including optional extended distribution system information on substations, transformers, and feeders to evaluate costs and benefits of distribution system options and upgrade strategies
  • Individual smart grid technologies and strategy evaluations
  • "What-if" scenario evaluations to examine results under different future assumptions
  • Recommended investment strategies
  • Analysis results documentation
  • Onsite presentation of results
  • Onsite training for staff interested in applying the Model
  • Future support to update business case analysis as a result of:
    • Specific vendor proposals
    • Pilot program results
    • New technologies/program impact information
    • etc.

Cost of a full-service business case analysis is based on software, time and materials costs associated with individual utility applications.

Stand-Alone Smart Grid Investment Model Software Package  
Smart Grid Gateway

The Smart Grid Investment Model is now available as a stand-alone software package for application at all electric utilities. Consortium staff complete a basic Model implementation including incorporation of each utility's customer class monthly customer and kWh sales data, 8,760 hourly systems load data, monthly heating and cooling degree days and other information that you provide.

Each model is calibrated to utility-specific data including estimation of a monthly customer-class end-use hourly load forecasting submodel to reflect impacts of technologies and programs on system loads, power costs, avoided future capacity requirements and other financial items. The model is delivered, online training sessions are conducted and Consortium staff are available to offer telephone support. The initial annual license fee for the Smart Grid Investment Model software for electric cooperatives, municipal and other public utilities is $9,500 with annual software maintenance and support fees of $3,500 thereafter. An additional implementation fee covers the cost of data processing, model parameter estimation and model validation. Pricing for investor owned utilities and other organizations is provided on request.

View 7 minute Video/Webcast Model Demonstration

Download Brochure

Basic Smart Grid Investment Model software and support includes:

  • Intuitive, easy-to-use Excel-based software
  • A 20-year, quarterly financial smart grid cost/benefit accounting framework with utility customer class, end-use electricity use detail
  • Utility-specific monthly kWh, peak kW, load profile forecasting models to determine smart grid hourly load program impacts by customer class and end-use
  • Explict representation of all important costs and benefits including avoided power purchase costs and avoided capacity investment costs for generation, transmission and distribution (as appropriate for each utility)
  • Cost/Benefit analysis of individual smart grid technologies and programs from the substation to behind-the-meter applications, including
    • Advanced communications and metering
    • Distribution automation
    • Volt/VAR and conservation voltage regulation
    • Customer reliability valuations
    • Pricing programs
    • Direct load control
    • Programmable communicating thermostats and similar customer-facing technologies
    • Other demand response technologies and programs
  • Cost/benefit parameters, parameter ranges and guidelines to begin smart grid investment analysis at your utility
  • Scenario, what-if, and other analysis features required to develop cost-effective smart grid investment strategies

An optional extended-detail distribution system model component includes individual substation, transformer, and feeder-level detail providing additional detail on distribution automation, Volt/VAR control, conservation voltage reduction, customer reliability valuations, cost-minimizing distribution system upgrade strategies and more. The license fee for this optional component depends on each utility's distribution architecture.

The Smart Grid Research Consortium (SGRC)  

The SGRC is an independent, objective research and applications organization initiated at Texas A&M University in 2010 to assist utilities with smart grid investment analysis. The Consortium was established as an independent research organization in January 2011 with headquarters in Orlando, Florida.

Consortium membership is provided to utilities who license the Smart Grid Investment Model and/or engage the Consortium to conduct smart grid business case analysis. Membership benefits include:

  • Access to the "Members" Web site section with additional resources and references
  • "Members-only" publications and notes provided by Consortium staff
  • Interaction with other Consortium members both informally and through "user-group" meetings

The Smart Grid Investment Model (SGIM)TM  

The Consortium's Smart Grid Investment Model (SGIM), which began as a research and service project at Texas A&M University in 2010, has been developed over two years and been vetted through application at 15 diverse utilities. The Model provides a comprehensive financial analysis framework ensuring that all aspects of smart grid costs and benefits are considered. Each model application incorporates current individual utility line-item costs and infrastructure characteristics as well as monthly customer-class end-use hourly load submodels required to determine the impacts of technologies and programs on system loads and power costs.

The Model provides an independent, vendor-neutral, objective evaluation of smart grid investments across all smart grid areas including:

  • AMI/smart meters
  • Distribution automation including customer reliability valuations
  • Volt/VAR control including conservation voltage regulation
  • Customer-oriented programs
    • Direct load control
    • Programmable communicating thermostats
    • Pricing programs
    • Customer engagement programs
    • Other demand response initiatives
  • Communications, IT, management and other issues

Characteristics that distinguish the model from vendor and consultant analysis include:

  • 20-year comprehensive, quarterly cost/benefit accounting framework
  • Utility customer class, end-use electricity use detail
  • A monthly kWh, peak kW, and hourly load impact models to determine technology and program impacts
  • "Real-world" factors including management reengineering costs, delayed program benefits, etc.
  • Intuitive, easy-to-use Excel-based software designed for utility staff analysis replication/modification
  • Utility-based cost/benefit parameters
  • Scenario, what-if, and other analysis features

View a 5-Minute Video Overview of the Smart Grid Investment Model.

More on the Smart Grid Investment Model.

An Intuitive Planning Tool  

The Model user interface, graphic and tabular results worksheets have been designed with input from utility members so the model is easy to apply to answer "what-if" questions that arise (although Consortium staff are also available to provide this support). The screen shots below illustrate several worksheets in the model workbook.

Each smart grid option can be evaluated by checking the appropriate box on the GATEWAY worksheet. In addition to providing access to all smart grid programs and program parameters, the GATEWAY worksheet provides selected summary cost/benefit analysis results including internal rate of return (IRR), undiscounted breakeven period, discounted breakeven period and net present value (NPV).

Smart Grid Gateway

Detailed cost/benefit analysis results are presented in the DASHBOARD, C-B Results and other worksheets, some of which are shown at the right.

Smart Grid Details

More on the Smart Grid Investment Model business case analysis.

Is A Consortium Business Case Analysis Appropriate for Your Utility?  

The SGRC provides exceptional value regardless of the stage of your smart grid development. Our members range from utilities who have yet to embark on smart grid investments to utilities on the leading edge of smart grid implementation. Applications range from evaluating and developing an initial smart grid development strategy, to evaluating "next step" extensions in smart grid implementations and to assessing and evaluating overall "after-the-fact" investment costs and benefits.

If your smart grid status is:

  • Waiting to consider smart grid options: Most utilities are waiting before committing to a comprehensive smart grid investment initiative. The Smart Grid Investment Model provides a perfect evaluation and planning tool for these utilities as they consider alternative investment strategies to fit their particular utility/customer circumstances.

  • Undertaking pilot programs: As utilities move into the pilot stage, the evaluation/planning framework provided by the Smart Grid Investment Model supports application of pilot results to full service area projections required to determine benefits and costs associated with individual and combination technologies and programs.

  • Developing a Smart Grid Strategy: With information from pilots, vendors or internal analysis, utility planners develop a more informed view of smart grid benefits and costs required to identify technologies and programs that best meet their utility and customer characteristics. The Smart Grid Investment Model supports financial evaluations utilizing these data in what-if analysis to develop smart grid strategies appropriate for utility, customer and financial requirements.

  • Smart Grid Investments Initiated: After initiating smart grid investments, utilities can benefit from continuous evaluations of investment activities monitoring costs and benefits and evaluating alternatives that exist in remaining build-out activities. The Smart Grid Investment Model provides a detailed framework for this analysis.

  • Smart Grid Systems in Place: Achieving a smart grid is a continuing process that requires monitoring current systems and programs, evaluating new technologies and program options and benchmarking results to those of comparable utilities. The Smart Grid Investment Model provides these monitoring, evaluation and comparison capabilities.

Consortium Leader  

The Consortium is managed and its research is led by Dr. Jerry Jackson, an energy economist with more than thirty years experience in new energy technology market analysis, financial model development, utility program development and project management. He was previously a professor at Texas A&M University (where he led the Consortium through its first year), chief of the Applied Research Division at Georgia Tech Research Institute, and president of a consulting firm where he has worked with utilities, state regulatory agencies, equipment manufactures and others in addressing energy industry issues.

In addition to Consortium research support staff, additional project team members are assembled from academic and industry organizations to provide expertise for research topics and applications analysis.
More on Consortium Leader/Research Team.

For More Information Contact:

Jerry Jackson, Ph.D.
Leader, Smart Grid Research Consortium
37 N. Orange Avenue, Suite 500
Orlando, Fl 32801