Twelve states commit to electricity planning for more efficient, customer-focused grid

Published on February 15, 2021 by Chris Galford

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Latching onto a national, two-year initiative hosted by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO), 12 states have pledged to innovate electricity planning to address system and customer needs.

The states responded to the Task Force’s efforts on Comprehensive Electricity Planning, a joint NARUC-NASEO effort established in 2019. That task force determined that methods such as promoting more holistic analyses of distribution and resource system needs and possible solutions, exploring opportunities to align electricity planning processes to meet state-specific priorities through docketed proceedings, or advancing the availability of data for improved distribution planning could better unite utilities and stakeholders in grid planning.

“With utilities making capital expenditures of more than $100 billion per year, it is essential for state decision-makers who oversee those investments to consider a broad and robust range of options across the electric system to reliably and affordably meet current and emerging needs, including grid stability, resilience and increased flexibility and optimization for all types of resources,” said Jennifer Richardson, executive director of the Indiana Office of Energy Development and Task Force Co-Chair.

With support from the U.S. Department of Energy, the task force made its determinations through five teams, each outlining an approach to align the distribution system, resource, and transmission planning processes in some way. This, the task force believes, will optimize distributed and existing energy resources, reduce unnecessary costs for customers, bolster state policy priorities and increase investment transparency related to the grid.

“The electric grid is the backbone of our economy and society,” said Kathleen Hogan, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Acting Under Secretary for Science and Energy. “We continue to strive to gain more value from the grid to meet daily challenges like overcoming the climate crisis, integrating new technologies, and meeting the needs of all customers. The suite of resources developed by this Task Force can be used to re-imagine a state’s electricity planning processes, and ultimately increase the benefits provided to their consumers.”

Separately, the task force also provided a blueprint for states and stakeholders outside the task force to align their electricity system planning processes to meet their own goals.