Integrated Resource Planning

A grid planning process strengthens Hawai‘i’s lead in developing a renewable energy grid

The Hawaiian Electric Companies have a plan. Their resource plan, filed in December 2016, outlines the near-term actions for attaining 100 percent renewable generation in their service area by the state’s mandated goal of 2045; the most ambitious—and only—such plan in the country.

In July 2017, the Hawai‘i Public Utilities Commission (HPUC) formally accepted this December-filed resource plan—their Power Supply Improvement Plan (PSIP), which was updated from a previous PSIP filed in April 2016.

Broad, inclusive participation. Both PSIPs were created in an open, collaborative process that included multiple participants and intervenors admitted into the docket. These participants were directed to “propose questions and suggest alternative modeling inputs, assumptions, methods, and analytical approaches” that Company planners must consider to incorporate into the resource planning process.

Selecting generation resources. Company planners ran production simulations using optimized candidate resource plans that incorporated distributed energy resources (DER), demand response programs, and other resources; then analyzed system security requirements to ensure system reliability. From the final results, they developed near-term (2017–2021) action plans that encompass renewable acquisitions, grid modernization, DER policies, environmental compliance, and system security improvements.

In the aggregate, these action plans add enough rooftop and feed-in tariff solar generation combined with large-scale solar and wind to attain a 52% RPS by 2021.

Continue reading The Hawaiian Plan: 100% Renewable Energy by 2045

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Achieving a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 drives this California initiative

Creating an Integrated Resource Plan is a formidable challenge. I know; I’ve helped create and write several IRPs during the past decade that each followed a process developed 25 years ago. This is why the process currently being proposed by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) staggers me.

Typically, IRPs created by a utility or a load serving entity (LSE) focus on providing reliable, affordable power for their service area and customers. While these IRPs comprise a wide range of generation, costs, transmission and distribution, and service, they are isolated plans.

The CPUC proposes to elevate all that. Its proposal involves an iterative process to compile individual IRPs into one statewide resource plan—in other words, a resource plan using the state as its service area. This process seeks to balance the individual loads, generation resources, planning perspectives, power grids, and other aspects of each LSE—large and small, public and private—into one cohesive direction that focuses energy generation in the state.

Senate Bill 350, which initiated the CPUC proposal, requires an IRP development process that meets California’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets. The upshot, however, requires a modernized grid to transmit increasing amounts of renewable energy. Among many other goals, SB 350 calls for 50% renewable generation by 2030, essentially doubling current output. The pending SB 100 ups the ante by requiring 60% renewable generation by 2030 and a non-mandatory 100% by 2045.

Continue reading A Statewide Approach to Integrated Resource Planning

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Greenhouse gas emission reductions, cost, and reliability are the drivers

Regulatory officials in California are raising the bar on integrated resource planning, taking it to a more efficient and effective level.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), together with the California Energy Commission (CEC), is guiding a process that helps each load-serving entity (LSE) collectively meet statewide energy, social, and environmental goals.

CPUC staff have issued a proposal for implementing integrated resource planning across the state. This proposal, created with input from the LSEs, outlines a structured process for LSEs to develop IRPs and for the CPUC to review these IRPs. The CEC has also drafted IRP submission and review guidelines specifically for publicly owned utilities. These proposals must first by adopted by the Commissioners before taking effect.

How is the California IRP process different? From its very foundation, the IRP process being developed in California lays a stronger foundation than those employed by virtually any other state. Here are eight such building blocks:

  1. The IRP process uses greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions, cost, and reliability as drivers for deriving the amount of renewable energy in the resultant generation mix.

Continue reading California: Working to Elevate Integrated Resource Planning

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An actual conversation I had recently at a business organization meeting

He took my arm firmly, pulling me aside for a private conversation. I had been standing in a small circle with colleagues, talking, at a business organization meeting when I was pulled aside.

“So,” he started. “I understand you work with electric utilities.” More of a question than a statement.

It all happened so suddenly that I just looked at him. “Have we met?” I asked, mainly to gather myself.

“No,” he said, then introduced himself. I returned the favor.

“I know who you are,” he continued. “You used to sit on an energy-related committee with my wife.”

“And she is…” I ventured.

He told me. Different last name. But now I understood the connection. They modernized older properties, and one of their initiatives is to lower the energy requirements of the buildings by integrating renewable resources and energy efficiency measures.

“Ah. Yes, I work with electric utilities.”

“Around renewable energy?”

“Mainly around integrating more renewable resources into the electric grid.”

“So you know a lot about rooftop solar photovoltaic panels?”

Continue reading Net Energy Metering: An Honest Story

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