An Idea Whose Time Has Come
Paul Alvarez is the President of the Wired Group and author of “Smart Grid Hype & Reality: A Systems Approach to Maximizing Customer Return on Utility Investment.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For decades now, most states have required Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs) to file periodic plans describing least-cost, least-risk approaches for meeting anticipated future loads. Though many restructured states have replaced "Integrated Resource Planning" with "Procurement Planning," the goal is essentially the same: complete a public process to help assure regulators (and other stakeholders) that low-cost electricity will be reliably available to customers when needed. More recently, integrated resource planning (IRP) has also been used to accomplish other ostensibly worthwhile goals, such as renewable portfolio standards, with as little cost and risk to customers as possible. To date, however, integrated resource plans have focused almost exclusively on electric generation options, including consideration of related issues such as transmission and demand-side management potential, capabilities, and costs.