The Analysis Group for Regional Electricity Alternatives
at the M.I.T. Energy Laboratory

Since 1988, the Analysis Group for Regional Electricity Alternatives (AGREA) has been working with a group of New England’s electric utilities, regulatory agencies, and consumer and environmental groups to develop long-term strategies that address the region’s concerns regarding the cost, reliability and environmental impacts of electric service.

AGREA's largest project focuses on bringing together those stakeholders in New England's electric power industry who are traditionally adversaries in the regulatory process, to provide them a forum where they can discuss long-term strategies which address all their concerns. Researchers at M.I.T.'s Energy Laboratory facilitate these discussions, and perform broad-based technical analysis for this advisory group of utility representatives, public utility commissioners, business leaders and environmentalists, with the hope and expectation that a general long-term strategy, agreeable to all concerned, will emerge.

Mitosis Diagram

In a environment where utilities, regulators, and environmentalists are argue over how much we should pay to reduce pollutant emissions, AGREA's analysis team has been successful in identifying a broad range of opportunities where the cost and environmental impacts of electric service can be lowered. The AGREA team has been successful in communicating their results to its advisory group and other interested members of the electric power community.

AGREA's 1993 set of analyses, constructed to meet the interests of the project's diverse advisory group, evaluate the performance of over 2000 strategies covering a broad range of technological options on both the supply and demand-side, while simultaneously looking at the interactions between new and existing resources as the New England electric system evolves over time. Using scenario-based multi-attribute tradeoff analysis techniques, these strategies–which include both Clean Air Act measures and renewable energy are evaluated for the issues of cost, environmental quality, generation reliability and cost vulnerability. Performance, relative to electric service demand and fuel cost uncertainties, are also evaluated.

The results of the 1993 Scenario Set point towards strategies which concurrently promote efficiency improvements in how electricity is used and generated. In comparison with “business as usual” strategies–which focus on agreed upon or politically safe options–strategies which focus on coordinated supply and demand-side efficiency improvements successfully reduce New England's sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions, while lowering total electric service costs. Insights into the operational impacts of resource decisions are also highlighted.

The computer assisted presentation developed by the AGREA analysis team explores the relative impacts of these strategies in detail. Results from these and previous efforts have been communicated to electric industry representatives across the globe, numerous regulatory agencies, as well as consumer, environmental and academic interests.

Knowledge Infrastrucutes

Attached is a list of AGREA's publications, current New England Project advisory group participants, and recent presentations. The AGREA research group is currently looking to build upon its current set of findings and analytic approach, and to see if the trends found in New England are applicable to other regions of the country. Other AGREA projects currently include looking at the possible cost and environmental benefits of bio-fueled generation in the Italian electric power sector (ENEL), integration of multi-attribute techniques in utility resource selection (Com/Electric) and incorporation of renewable energy sources within Integrated Resource Planning (NREL).

Stephen R. Connors
Director, M.I.T. Electric Utility Program
Director, Analysis Group for Regional Electricity Alternatives