Domestic bactrian camel at the background of the wind turbines in a steppe of Kazakhstan

Report | 2023

Reimagining Resource Planning

By Lauren ShwisbergKaterina StephanMark Dyson
Download the report below

Planning the electricity system has never been more important — or more complex.

Utilities are simultaneously facing unprecedented weather events, retiring aging resources, and considering a wider array of resource and grid improvement options to ensure electricity is reliable and affordable. On top of these factors, utilities and regulators are implementing changes to existing processes to achieve new policy objectives, such as prioritizing energy equity and reducing emissions.

Resource planning is a crucial opportunity for utilities, regulators, and stakeholders to shape the future electricity system. Integrated resource plans (IRPs) typically indicate the direction of the generation mix and help utilities and regulators define strategies to respond to future opportunities and risks.

In this report, we identify three core qualities IRPs must maintain to help utilities and regulators evaluate resource decisions even in the context of significant change: they must be trusted, comprehensive, and aligned.

To accomplish this, utilities and regulators can look to approaches that have already been tested in IRPs across the country, explored with detailed examples in the report.

Before making piecemeal changes, regulators and state policymakers have an opportunity to revisit the fundamentals of resource planning. By intentionally and proactively considering the purpose, scope, roles, and tools of planning, utilities and regulators can prioritize the most important changes and even identify new enhancements. In the report, we explore each of the fundamentals in more detail:

  • Purpose: What are the goals for the electricity system and how should plans be structured and evaluated with respect to those goals?
  • Scope: What should be included in IRPs, and what should be included in separate, yet coordinated, processes?
  • Roles: Who should be involved in developing IRPs?
  • Tools: How can we use analytical tools and engagement processes to best support the outcomes of planning?

Ultimately, we hope that utilities and regulators will use this opportunity — when their resource planning processes are being stretched and challenged — to consider how resource planning may need to be adapted, refined, and even reimagined.