Local power companies (LPCs) are publicly or member-owned organizations that distribute electricity to a geographically limited area, such as a city or county(ies). The project considers the multiple challenges and opportunities facing LPCs by the energy transition. That transition is marked by a myriad of factors, including without limitation the evolution of digital electricity infrastructure (separate or in combination with fiber and other communication assets), the growth of distributed resources, the growing demand for low-carbon electricity from residential consumers and large corporate and industrial customers, resilience planning, changing financial markets, and the electrification of the transportation sector. Our research seeks to assist LPCs by benchmarking best practices and highlighting social, economic, and technological implications of capital allocation and investment planning decisions. The goal is to develop neutral, transparent assessment and planning tools and to develop conferences and networks to facilitate the sharing of information. The initial focus of the Project is LPCs in the Tennessee Valley Region, which spans parts of seven states, with an intent to later expand to a regional and then national scope. For more information, see the project web site here.
The project is led by Ryan Thomas Trahan, Research Associate Professor of Environmental and Sustainability Studies, in collaboration with Professor David Hess. Professor Hess is Director of the Program in Environmental and Sustainability Studies, the James Thornton Fant Chair of Sustainability Studies, Associate Director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment, and Professor of the Sociology Department [link].