Distributed Energy Resource Programs

Distributed energy resource programs have moved way beyond energy efficient light bulbs, and program strategy and review is having to evolve quickly to keep up.

Smart Electric Energy Meter for Demand Response


Synapse provides clients with technical and policy support regarding distributed energy resource programs and policies. For many years we have reviewed and critiqued energy efficiency and demand response programs and policies across the United States and Canada. In recent years we have reviewed programs and policies for distributed generation, storage, building electrification, and electric transportation. Our expertise covers program design, DER technology assessment, DER cost recovery practices, cost-effectiveness analyses, DER potential, DER program evaluation and verification, and more. For our program administrator clients, we help refine program strategy and design to best suit their jurisdictions' characteristics.

Review of Distributed Energy Resource Plans and Policies

Distributed energy resources represent an increasingly large portion of utility investments. Synapse frequently participates in dockets to investigate the value of utility investments in DERs. These include regulatory investigations into:

  • Cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency and demand response programs,
  • Costs and benefits of distributed generation mechanisms including (roof-top solar),
  • Potential impacts of distributed storage resources, and
  • Utility and customer implications of utility investments in electric vehicle infrastructure.

Our work includes reviewing utility DER studies, conducting independent analysis of DER cost-effectiveness, conducting avoided cost and value-of-solar studies, and both prospective and retrospective analysis of DERs.

Distributed Energy Program Strategy & Design

Synapse supports its clients with in enhancing DER program strategies and designs through working groups and other mechanisms. We provide technical support related to developing customer compensation mechanisms, tailoring programs to all types of customers and markets, conducting benefit-cost analysis of programs under design, developing program budgets, and recommending improvements to data collection.

We also help clients plan ahead so programs can evolve to meet current challenges like the need for improved equity, the need to incentivize fuel-switching, and the relevance of program planning to system planning components such as non-wires and non-pipeline alternatives.

Distributed Energy Resource Cost-Effectiveness Screening

Sound benefit-cost analysis (BCA) practices represent the core of our approach to evaluating utility investments and resources. Synapse is a national leader in developing principles and practices for how to conduct BCAs when reviewing utility investments. Our approach combines economic theory with critical regulatory perspectives to ensure that BCAs of utility investments are:

  • Comprehensive and transparent,
  • Identify utility investments and resources that are cost-effective,
  • Protect customers,
  • Achieve energy policy goals, and pursue public interest

To learn more about our work on programs and policies for specific distributed energy resources, see: