Assessing Integrated Resource Plans Prepared by Electric Utilities
During the past several years, more and more electric utilities have prepared long-term resource plans that integrate demand-side programs into the utility's mix of energy and capacity resources. Several organizations have enumerated the states with laws or regulations requiring utilities to prepare such plans. But no one has yet reviewed enough plans to assess utility progress in integrated-resource planning and to develop criteria for a good plan. This report suggests guidelines for the preparation and review of utility reports on their resource plans.
We reviewed more than 30 resource plans and related documents from electric utilities and government agencies. Guidelines in the form of a checklist were developed on the basis of these reviews. This checklist (summarized in Table S-l) should help staff in public utility commissions who review the utility reports and utility staff who prepare such planning reports. Four broad topics are covered in the checklist (and in the body of this report):
- The clarity with which the contents of the plan, the procedures used to produce it, and the expected outcomes are presented;
- The technical competence (including the computer models and supporting data and analysis) with which the plan was produced;
- The adequacy and detail of the short-term action plan; and
- The extent to which the interests of various stakeholders are addressed.
Utilities should carefully prepare and present their resource plans because the plans are so important, both to the utility and to the public. The plan encourages interdepartmental cooperation and understanding within the utility. It develops a shared view of the utility's vision of the future and how the utility plans to meet the energy needs of that future. The plan also explains the rationale for the utility's proposed actions. The plan is useful to regulatory commissions and the public because it presents the utility's short- and long-term plans to provide electric-energy-services.
Some of the utility reports do not present the company's resource plan, a clear statement of what resources will be acquired to meet future energy-service needs. Although these reports contain much useful information, the failure to consolidate this information and commit the utility to a course of action renders these reports incomplete. Because integrated resource planning is a new process, the suggestions offered here will evolve. Also, most of the plans we reviewed did not meet all the criteria on our checklist. To some extent, the checklist presents objectives that utilities should strive to meet in preparing future resource plans.