Utility of the Future Study

Seeking to determine the future of the provision of electricity services, whether centralized or decentralized. Exploring alternative business models and transformative technologies under diverse regulatory and markets contexts and within the global framework of an increasingly decarbonized power sector.

Utility of the Future

Documents and Publications

About the Study

The Utility of the Future brings together a diverse consortium of leading international companies to address emerging issues in the electric power sector, and provides a neutral framework within which to evaluate the economic, regulatory, and technological impacts of the ongoing evolution of the power sector world-wide. The study team from MIT and IIT-Comillas combines a breadth of skills in quantitative economic and engineering modeling, with a sophisticated understanding of the complex interactions in the electric power industry. The team includes faculty with decades of experience in advising governments, corporations, and institutions on regulation and market design. The consortium partners — industrial and other market participants — bring valuable real-world expertise and experience to the study.

The MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) has a long history of identifying research topics that lend themselves to a consortium approach. Such topics benefit from aggregating a diverse set of perspectives on a set of critical issues facing the industry at large. This “commons” approach benefits all of the partners, while enabling each member to individually benefit from an increased understanding of the unique implications to their organization.

This comprehensive study will address the technology, policy, and business models shaping the evolution of the delivery of electricity services. It will examine several possible scenarios of the future of the electricity sector in order to inform utilities, regulators, policy makers, and new market actors attempting to navigate a rapidly changing industry. To guide the work, MITEI is building a consortium of stakeholders who can help provide insight into the challenges they are confronting.

Our objective is to evaluate new and emerging technologies and combinations of these technologies, such as rooftop solar, distributed generation, and demand response implemented in the distribution sector. In addition, we will look at how the distributed and the centralized power systems will be coordinated in the delivery of energy services.

Over the course of the multi-year study, we will seek to answer key questions such as:

  • What key distributed energy technologies can disrupt the power sector?
  • How might distributed energy resources – such as solar panels or plug-in vehicles in garages – impact power system operations, markets, and regulations?
  • What business models may develop, and how will they successfully serve both upstream electricity market actors and energy consumers?
  • What impact could these new business models have on incumbent utilities, and what opportunities may exist for other industry sectors to capitalize on these changes?
  • How will regulation need to evolve to create a level playing field for both distributed and traditional energy resources?
  • What are plausible visions of the future of the power sector, including changes for incumbent utilities, new electricity service providers, regulators, policy makers, and consumers?

Consortium Members


Booz | Allen | Hamilton        EDF       ENEL        Gas Natural         Engie

Iberdrola       PJM        SaudiAramco        Shell        WBSCD


Duke Energy        Enzen        Eversource Energy       
NEC        PSEG       Siemens         Statoil



The Institutions

MIT logo            MITEI logo            Comillas logo

The Team

Principal Investigators
Prof. Ignacio Perez-Arriaga
Prof. Christopher R. Knittel

Faculty Committee
Prof. Carlos Batlle (MIT-Comillas)
Prof. Michael Caramanis (BU)
Prof. John Deutch  (MIT)
Prof. Tomas Gomez (Comillas)
Prof. William Hogan (Harvard)
Prof. Steven Leeb (MIT)
Prof. Richard Lester (MIT)
Prof. Les Norford (MIT)
Dr.  John Parsons (MIT)
Prof. Richard Schmalensee (MIT)
Project Directors
Dr. Raanan A. Miller
Dr. Richard D. Tabors

Project Directors
Dr. Raanan A. Miller (MIT)
Dr. Richard D. Tabors (MIT)

Research Team
Ashwini Bharatkumar (MIT)
Michael Birk (MIT)
Scott Burger (MIT)
Dr. José Pablo Chaves (Comillas)
Sam Huntington (MIT)
Jesse Jenkins (MIT)
Max Luke (MIT)
Dr. Raanan Miller (MIT)
Dr. Richard Tabors (MIT)
Dr. Karen Tapia-Ahumada (MIT)
Dr. Claudio Vergara (MIT/Comillas)
Nora Xu (MIT)

Research and Project Advisors
Prof. Robert Armstrong (MIT)
Louis Carranza (MIT)
Stephen Connors (MIT)
Cyril Draffin (MIT)
Prof. Pablo Frías (Comillas)
Prof. Javier Reneses (Comillas)
Prof. Michel Rivier (Comillas)
Prof. Álvaro Sánchez (Comillas)
Dr. Robert Stoner (MIT)

The External Advisory Board

Phil Sharp - Utility of the Future Advisory Committee Chair
President, Resources for the Future

Richard O’Neill - Utility of the Future Advisory Committee Vice Chair 
Chief Economic Advisor, FERC

Janet Gail Besser
Executive Vice President, Northeast Clean Energy Council

Paul Centolella
Paul Centolella & Associates

Martin Crouch
Senior Partner, Ofgem Smarter Grids & Governance: Transmission

Phil Giudice
CEO and President, Ambri Inc.

Timothy Healy
Chairman & CEO, EnerNOC

Alex Laskey
President & Founder, Opower

Manuel Sanchez Jimenez
Policy Officer, European Commission

Paul Joskow

President and CEO, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, MIT Professor Emeritus

Luca Lo Schiavo
Deputy Director, Service Quality and Consumer Affairs, Italian Regulatory Authority for Electricity and Gas

Audrey Zibelman
Chair, New York State Public Service Commission

Additional memberships are being finalized. For additional information or to join the consortium, please contact:

Raanan A. Miller
MITEI Executive Director, Utility of the Future
Email: ramiller@mit.edu
Telephone: +1.617.308.2304

Louis J. Carranza
Associate Director, MITEI
Email: carranza@mit.edu
Telephone: +1.617.324.7029