The Evolving Role of the Power Sector Regulator

This paper seeks to briefly characterize the evolving role of the power sector regulator. Given
current global dynamics, regulation of the power sector is undergoing dramatic changes. This transformation is being driven by various factors including technological advances and cost reductions in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and demand management; increasing air pollution and climate change concerns; and persistent pressure for ensuring sustainable economic
development and increased access to energy services by the poor. These issues add to the already complex task of power sector regulation, of which the fundamental remit remains to objectively and transparently ensure least-cost service delivery at high quality. While no single regulatory
task is trivial to undertake, it is the prioritization and harmonization of a multitude of objectives that exemplifies the essential challenge of power sector regulation. Evolving regulatory roles can
be understood through the concept of existing objectives and an additional layer of emerging
objectives. Following this categorization, we describe seven existing objectives of power sector regulators and nine emerging objectives, highlighting key challenges and outlining
interdependencies. This essay serves as a preliminary installment in the Clean Energy Regulatory Initiative (CERI) series, and aims to lay the groundwork for subsequent reports and case studies that will explore these topics in more depth.


National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

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