Berkeley Lab to introduce upgraded Interruption Cost Estimate Calculator

Published on July 29, 2022 by Dave Kovaleski

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Berkeley Lab is rolling out an upgrade to the Interruption Cost Estimate (ICE) Calculator, an online tool that estimates the economic consequences of power interruptions.

The ICE Calculator has been relied on for years by utilities, policymakers, and other stakeholders to estimate the costs of outages.

The new online tool — developed by staff at Berkeley Lab and its partner, Resource Innovations – is based on more than 100,000 customer responses from 34 utility-sponsored surveys conducted in the United States between 1989 and 2012.

“We know that the ICE Calculator is relied upon across the country to inform major decisions on investments to improve grid reliability and resilience. Accordingly, we want to ensure that it is based on the most up-to-date and comprehensive information available,” Peter Larsen, the lead researcher at Berkeley Lab, said.

Berkeley Lab and Resource Innovations will administer a consistent set of interruption cost surveys to a representative sample of each sponsoring utility’s customers. They will then pool the survey responses and analyze them jointly to fully update and upgrade the ICE Calculator.

The charter group of sponsoring utilities includes American Electric Power, Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, DTE Energy, Exelon, and National Grid. Additional sponsoring utilities will be recruited for a subsequent update to the ICE Calculator.

“The ICE Calculator is an important tool that electric companies can utilize as they work with regulators and policymakers to plan the investments needed to provide affordable, reliable, secure, and resilient clean electricity to customers,” Phil Moeller, executive vice president of the Business Operations Group and Regulatory Affairs at the Edison Electric Institute, said. “The updates made by Berkeley Lab will enable stakeholders to better understand the financial impacts of power outages and, therefore, better assess the benefits of investments in energy grid resilience.”

The ICE Calculator was originally developed with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Electricity. Additional funding to update the calculator is being provided by the sponsoring utilities.

“The Office of Electricity’s fundamental mission is to increase the reliability and resilience of our critical electric infrastructure,” Gil Bindewald, acting principal deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Electricity at the DOE, said. “Assessing and monetizing the real costs of service interruptions with the ICE Calculator highlights the long-term economic benefits of investing in grid reliability improvements. Expanding the data behind this tool through this public-private partnership and country-wide collaboration only serves to provide states, tribal nations, and utilities with even more resources to support investment decisions related to activities such as grid modernization efforts and the multitude of grid-enhancing programs made possible through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”