Upgrade for Tool to Estimate Power Interruption Costs

July 27, 2022

Berkeley Lab has initiated a national public-private partnership to update and upgrade the Interruption Cost Estimate (ICE) Calculator—a publicly-available, online tool—which estimates the economic consequences of power interruptions.

Information on the costs that customers experience when the lights go out is an important consideration for the planning and prioritization of improvements to the reliability and resilience of the U.S. power system. For a number of years, utilities, policymakers, and other stakeholders have relied on the ICE Calculator to estimate these costs. The tool was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity and developed by staff at Berkeley Lab and Resource Innovations (formerly known as Nexant, Inc.). It is based on more than 100,000 customer responses from 34 utility-sponsored surveys conducted in the U.S. 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,” said Peter Larsen, the lead researcher at Berkeley Lab. 

Berkeley Lab and Resource Innovations  will administer a consistent set of modern interruption cost surveys to a statistically representative sample of each sponsoring utility’s customers. They will then anonymize and 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, which together provide electric service to tens of millions of customers across 17 U.S. states. The team expects to recruit additional sponsoring utilities 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,” said Phil Moeller, EEI’s executive vice president of the Business Operations Group and Regulatory Affairs. “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”.  

An independent, project advisory committee consisting of staff from key stakeholder groups will ensure that the methods and outcomes of this initiative are transparent, well-documented, and useful for justifying investments in the U.S. power system.

“The Office of Electricity’s fundamental mission is to increase the reliability and resilience of our critical electric infrastructure,” said Gil Bindewald, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Electricity at the U.S. Department of Energy. “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.”


Press Contact:
Peter Larsen
Leader, Electricity Markets and Policy Department
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Email: PHLarsen@lbl.gov     Phone: (510) 486-5015