The Full Cost of Electricity (FCe-)

Interdisciplinary initiative to identify and quantify the full-system cost of electric power generation and delivery


The generation of electric power and the infrastructure that delivers it is in the midst of dramatic and rapid change. Declining renewable energy costs, stringent emissions standards, low-price natural gas, competitive electricity markets, and a host of technological innovations have forever changed the landscape of an industry that has remained static for decades.

Heightened awareness of newfound options available to consumers has injected yet another element to the policy debate surrounding these transformative changes, moving it beyond utility boardrooms and legislative hearing rooms to everyday living rooms.

The Full Cost of Electricity employs a holistic approach to thoroughly examine the key factors affecting the total system cost of generating and delivering electricity. The multi-disciplinary project synthesizes the expert analysis and different perspectives of faculty across the UT Austin campus, from engineering, economics, law, and policy.

The study identifies and quantifies direct and indirect costs associated with both traditional and emergent power generation and delivery systems, including fuel, environmental and public health effects, infrastructure investments, integration of distributed energy resources and storage, and the interplay of energy efficiency and demand response with new generation.

In addition to producing authoritative reports that provide comprehensive assessment and analysis of various electric power system options, the study team is creating an online calculator that allows policymakers and other stakeholders, including the public, to estimate the cost implications of potential policy actions.

The electricity system consists of three principal components: electricity consumers, electricity generation technologies, and the wires, poles, storage, and other hardware required to connect electricity end users with generation in both space and time. The Full Cost of Electricity (FCe-) is a function of the interaction between these three components, as well as cost factors (e.g., environmental, human health) often considered external to the electricity system. The University of Texas at Austin’s FCe- study provides white papers and interactive tools that describe these interactions via a multidisciplinary approach. What is the Full Cost of Electricity? It depends. It depends upon where, when, and how you generate, consume, and connect within the electricity grid.

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