By Elliot Roseman of ICF International and Sandra Hochstetter, Chair, Arkansas Public Service Commission, and published in EnergyPulse, February 1, 2007. This article identifies the growing trend in integrated resource planning (IRP) among regulated utilities, but goes one step future. With the advent of regional wholesale markets, large regional baseload and renewable generation resources, climate change and other emissions considerations, and regional transmission planning by regional transmission organizations (RTO), the authors argue that "Regional Resource Planning" (RRP) would be a substantial improvement in optimizing the resource mix.
Importantly, RRP would not usurp state regulatory authority—rather, it would be sponsored by existing regional regulatory groups and organizations, and would provide regional resource and cost analysis that state regulators could use to better determine what makes sense for their states and the region as a whole. The authors enumerate the key elements of the RRP concept, as well as how to implement the process. Given the huge need for electric industry investment that the United States is facing nationwide over the next 10-20 years, the time has come for an alternative that would optimize investment, achieve synergies, maximize consumer benefit, and augment regional information sharing. The time has come for RRP.