New Decision Framework for Investing in Local Power Grids

July 1, 2024

Growth in data centers, manufacturing, electric vehicles, solar, and storage are among the forces reshaping electricity loads and investments for local grids today. With increasing electricity demand and infrastructure needs, robust utility planning for reliable, resilient, and affordable electricity systems is more important than ever.

Integrated distribution system planning — an objectives-based decision framework for long-term investments in local grids — focuses on achieving these and other policy goals, as well as utility customer needs and evolution at the grid edge. Berkeley Lab's new interactive decision framework, outlined in the diagram below, is designed to provide utilities, states, and stakeholders with a shared understanding as more states adopt distribution planning requirements. This new resource expands on integrated planning concepts first presented in the U.S. Department of Energy's Modern Distribution Grid series.

The new interactive framework focuses on 17 key planning topics:

  • Forecasting Loads and Distributed Energy Resources (DERs)
  • Scenario Analysis
  • Hosting Capacity Analysis
  • Value of DERs
  • Interconnection
  • Threat-Based Risk Assessment
  • Worst-Performing Circuits Analysis
  • Asset Management Strategy
  • Functional Requirements Analysis Distribution System Investment Strategy and Implementation
  • Multi-Objective Decision-making
  • Cost-Effectiveness Framework for Investments
  • Coordinated Planning
  • Procurements
  • Geotargeting Programs
  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Equity Considerations

For each of these topics, users can navigate the following sections:

  • Overview - Defines the topic, explains its importance, and provides answers to frequently asked questions
  • Roles and responsibilities - Describes how utilities, utility regulators, and stakeholders can engage and contribute throughout the planning process
  • Best practices - Provides a menu of effective actions to advance distribution planning practices
  • State practices - Identifies state efforts to address the topic through legislation, regulatory proceedings, and other activities
  • Utility practices - Provides examples of how utilities implement relevant distribution planning activities
  • Flow chart - Visually represents information flows and processes (see example in the figure below)
  • Tools - Identifies methods, approaches, and other tools
  • Resources - Provides an annotated resource list for more information
IDSP Interactive Framework fig. 2

Primary authors are Lisa Schwartz, Guillermo Pereira, Paul De Martini, Josh Schellenberg, Jason Ball, and Natalie Mims Frick, Berkeley Lab, with contributions from Lawryn Kiboma, David Narang, Jeremy Keen and Michael Ingram, National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The work is sponsored by Joe Paladino in the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Electricity

Contact: Lisa Schwartz, Berkeley Lab's Energy Markets and Policy Department – [email protected], 510-926-1091