Future Directions: Integrated Resource Planning
Integrated resource planning or IRP is the process for integrating supply- and demand-side resources to provide energy services at a cost that balances the interest of all stakeholders. It now is the resource planning process used by electric utilities in over 30 states. The goals of IRP have evolved from least cost planning and encouragement of demand-side management to broader, more complex issues including core competitive business activity, risk management and sharing, accounting for externalities, and fuel switching between gas and electricity. IRP processes are being extended to other interior regions of the country, to non-investor owned utilities, and to regional (rather than individual utility) planning bases, and to other fuels (natural gas). The comprehensive, multivalued, and public reasoning characteristics of IRP could be extended to applications beyond energy, e.g., transportation, surface water management, and health care in ways suggested in the paper.