10 Questions to Ask About Integrated Resources Planningby , , , , and -
This working paper is designed to help make decision-making processes more transparent and enable greater engagement in the electricity sector.
It is part of the 10 Questions to Ask Series, which aims to build the capacity of electricity sector stakeholders—government agencies, regulators, utilities, the private sector, civil society, and others —to design and participate in policy making and implementation processes.
Ensuring an affordable and reliable supply of energy is a concern of national governments around the world. Because electricity sector projects are so capital intensive and can significantly impact the local environment and society, they must be considered as part of a national plan that recognizes the connections between the electricity sector and the broader economic, social, environmental, and political contexts, as well as other sectors like manufacturing and transportation.
Many governments have embedded a dedicated electricity plan into a larger plan, called an Integrated Resources Plan (IRP). When applied to the power sector, an IRP is an approach that meets the estimated long term requirements for electricity services during a specified period with a least-cost combination of supply and end use efficiency measures, while incorporating concerns such as equity, environmental protection, reliability, and other country-specific goals. The purpose of an IRP is to minimize present and future costs of meeting energy requirements while considering impacts on utilities, government, and society.
“10 Questions to Ask about IRP” attempts to capture critical features and complexities of resource planning. The framework could be used in multiple ways. For example, it could help develop a vision for the electricity sector that addresses trade-offs for achieving national goals. An IRP is most effective when it is created through a planning process that is informed by public involvement and active dialogue with national policymakers, state agencies, customer and industry advocacy groups, project developers, civil society, and others. These stakeholders can use this 10Qs framework to assess the quality and effectiveness of an existing resource plan, or to help build a new, exemplary IRP.