The U.S. electric utility industry faces the greatest challenge in its history. The demand for electric services to meet the needs of our growing population and to power our increasingly digital and connected economy continues to rise. At the same time, high demand for commodities such as steel and cement is causing cost increases for building all electric infrastructure systems, including every type of new power plant, whether it’s fueled by coal, nuclear power, natural gas, or renewable sources of energy. Concerns about global climate change and other environmental issues have created a new industry emphasis on more energy-efficient products and services and low-emission generation sources. New distribution end-use technologies, such as advanced automation and communications and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), will dramatically change how utilities deliver electricity and how customers use it, allowing new efficiencies and greater customization of electric service.

To chart the magnitude of this challenge, The Edison Foundation asked The Brattle Group to examine the total investment that would be required to maintain today’s high levels of reliable electric service across the United States through 2030, net of the investment that could be avoided through the implementation of more aggressive energy efficiency and demand response (EE/DR) programs. In addition, the Foundation wanted The Brattle Group to determine the investment cost of one projected generation mix, known as the “Prism Analysis,” which the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) developed to reduce the growth in carbon emissions.

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