What is eLab?
eLab is an assembly of thought leaders and decision makers from across the U.S. electricity sector. The group focuses on collaborative innovation to address critical institutional, regulatory, business, economic, and technical barriers to the economic deployment of distributed resources in the U.S. electricity sector.
In particular, eLab works to answer three key questions:
- How can we understand and effectively communicate the real costs and benefits of distributed resources as part of the electricity system?
- How can we harmonize regulatory frameworks, pricing structures, and business models of utilities and distributed resource developers to enable varied solutions that yield the greatest benefit to customers and society as a whole?
- How can we accelerate the pace of economic distributed resource adoption?
A multi-year program, eLab regularly brings together key actors to identify, test, and spread practical solutions to the challenges inherent in these questions. eLab has three annual working group meetings, coupled with ongoing project work, all facilitated and supported by RMI.
eLab meetings allow members to share learnings, best practices, and analysis results; collaborate around key issues or needs; and conduct deep-dives into research and analysis findings.
Issues such as the growing need for reinvestment in electricity infrastructure, climate change and other environmental concerns, an increasing focus on grid resilience, and the rapid development of new business solutions to leverage the changing cost of technologies that produce, deliver, and use electricity are fundamentally changing the electricity landscape in the U.S.
As a result, rapid innovation—as well as change, cooperation, and conflict—are occurring at the “seams” in the electricity sector where no single stakeholder or industry group can control the outcome. The most important new sources of competitive advantage in today’s rapidly changing electricity sector are not technology or market position; they are the ability of innovators to work efficiently and effectively in complex multi-stakeholder environments. Shifting the electricity sector will require engagement and innovation across traditional institutional boundaries.
But developing practical, workable solutions will be challenging:
- The electricity system is technically complex and reliability-driven, and transforming it is akin to rebuilding an airplane while in flight.
- As a society, we have not solved this kind of challenge before; we can’t simply replicate the same thing that worked last time.
- The system is transitioning from being centralized and hierarchical to distributed and more complex.
- Learn more about Reinventing Fire and the eLab approach to solving complex projects.