Larry G. Berg is president of Berg LLC, a professional consulting services firm, and an instructor for PGS Energy Training. He worked 29 years at El Paso Electric Co., focusing on strategic and resource planning and project management.
This isn’t your grandfather’s electric utility anymore. Gone are the days when electric resource planning meant simply deciding where the next coal- or gas-fired unit would be located and when it needed to be on-line.
The build-out paradigm, whether we know it or like it, has changed forever.
In the past, the customer compact was simple. Consumers, power companies and regulators seemingly all agreed that electric systems must be safe and reliable, and deliver quality power. After that, least-cost installations, operations and maintenance generally ruled the industry—and for good reason. Consumers wanted affordable rates to go along with safe, reliable and high-quality electricity.
Then, some years back, state regulators began pursuing various types of mandatory programs that at least some consumers asked for and wanted—such as renewable and alternative energy standards, and energy efficiency requirements. Today all but 14 states have some form of renewable or alternative portfolio standards or goals in place, many of which allow some amount of energy efficiency gain in lieu of meeting the standard conventionally.