ORIGINAL REPORTING: Better Planning For A Better Power System
Duke, APS planning reforms show ways to work with stakeholders to meet emerging power system needs; Better integrated planning can lower rates and transform the resource mix for any power provider, an RMI analysis found.
Herman K. Trabish | February 28, 2023 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Efforts continue in many states to find ways to expand the power system’s resource mix.
The energy transition’s new resources, technologies and voices require the utility integrated resource plan, or IRP, to be better, many planners and analysts say.
An IRP is the strategy a utility submits to its regulators every one to three years in most states for investing in reliable affordable power and meeting its policy goals and obligations. But new approaches, like those being explored by Arizona Public Service, or APS, and Duke Energy Indiana, are needed to meet upward pressures on rates, stakeholder calls for clean energy options and equity, and federal and state policies, many regulators and stakeholders agree.
“Market forces are shaping utility resource portfolios,” acknowledged Commissioner Pat O’Connell of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission. “But this moment of change is an opportunity to go big on high-level IRP reforms with more analysis of more factors,” he added.
For APS, “the changing landscape requires transparency with stakeholders in the IRP process,” said APS Vice President of Resource Management Justin Joiner. “That means coming to planning sessions with stakeholders without answers, because two heads are better than one, and decisions about affordability, reliability and clean energy can best be reached with diverse stakeholder viewpoints,” he added.
Reform efforts to introduce best practices like all-source solicitations, distribution system planning, and engaging new voices could add more work for already overburdened utility planners and regulators, some said. But developing integrated system planning with state-of-the-art modeling that optimizes solutions to today’s reliability and affordability challenges will be easier than undoing bad planning decisions, others responded.
Utility “planning processes are being stretched and challenged” to meet the power system’s emerging dynamics, according to a new report from independent analyst RMI. But utilities, regulators and stakeholders can “shape the future electricity system” by “reimagining” IRP “rules and guidelines,” to make planning more comprehensive, transparent, and aligned with policy, RMI said… click here for more