Rising retail prices for grid electricity and declining costs for solar PV and batteries mean that grid-connected solar-plus-battery systems will be economic within the next 10–15 years for many customers in many parts of the country. Utilities could see significant decline in energy sales that would support needed grid investment. Thus it's critical that utilities, regulators, and other electricity system stakeholders urgently pursue reform on three fronts—rate structures, utility business models, and regulatory frameworks—to embrace solar, batteries, and other DERs as an integral, optimized part of the future grid, rather than as a threat to that grid.
The bulk of this tutorial will concern itself with this line of neoclassical economic theory. Other strands of so-called “heterodox” economics have sprung up to challenge the mainstream model, and other social sciences such as psychology and sociology have added valuable insight to the mechanical models of pure economics. Sometimes rejected as fringe elements, mainstream economics is today increasingly tolerant of some these ideas and even go so far as try to incorporate alternative theory into its own. Some of these will be examined briefly at the end of this tutorial.