Electric System Planning

Berkeley Lab has been a leader in critically evaluating and informing utility resource planning practices since the emergence of integrated resource planning in the 1980s. It continues to conduct analyses across a wide range of electric system planning issues related to distributed energy resources, transmission expansion, renewables integration, and other topics. The Lab also maintains the Resource Planning Portal, a database of information from recent utility resource plans.

Drawing on its ongoing analytical work, the Electricity Markets & Policy Group (EMP Group) provides technical and policy expertise to inform electric system planning processes at the state, regional, and national levels. In this capacity, the EMP Group provides ongoing support to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability in preparation of national electricity transmission-related studies. Within the Western Interconnection, the EMP Group provides technical support to the Western Governors’ Association and Western Electricity Coordinating Council. It also provides technical assistance on resource planning issues directly to states, upon request. 

Resource Planning Portal

The Resource Planning Portal database gives users instant access to long-term planning information for dozens of load-serving entities (LSEs) across the Western Electricity Coordinating Council’s territory. Users have the ability to conduct queries of information contained in the database, compare planning assumptions across LSEs, and download results in an easily-accessible format.

Resource Planning Practices and Trends

The EMP Group evaluates resource planning studies developed by utilities and regional transmission planning entities to help planning practitioners and regulators benchmark and refine their own analyses. Among other topics, current areas of focus include: evaluating and accounting for distributed energy resources, load forecasting techniques, the strategic benefits of transmission investments, and uncertainty analysis.

Technical Support for Rural Power Systems

Isolated power systems offer unique challenges not seen in grid-oriented supply. The EMP Group supports the modernization of isolated power systems through technical and economic analyses and partnerships with a variety of public and private collaborators.

Technical Support for Western Interconnection Planning

The EMP Group provides technical and analytical support to the Western Governors’ Association and the Western Electric Coordinating Council to enable robust analyses of regional transmission needs, with an emphasis on the evaluation of demand-side resources within interconnection-level planning studies.

Technical Support for National Transmission-Related Studies

With the changing composition, location, and operational characteristics of the electricity generation fleet, such as the development of remote renewable generation and retirement of coal-fired power plants, the importance of transmission planning and operations is rising. Berkeley Lab has supported the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability in the preparation of every major electricity policy study released by the office since it was created in 2003, and it continues to leverage this knowledge to address timely transmission-related issues.





Wilkerson, Jordan, Peter H Larsen, and Galen L Barbose. "Survey of Western U.S. Electric Utility Resource Plans." Energy Policy 66 (2014) 90-103. LBNL-6545E.
Fisher, Emily, and Joseph H Eto. "Congestion Measures for Organized Markets in the U.S." IEEE 47th Hawaii International Conference on Systems Science (HICSS). Waikoloa, HI: IEEE, 2014. LBNL-6539E.





National Electric Transmission Congestion Study (2009). Berkeley: LBNL, 2009.



Barmack, Matthew, Edward P Kahn, Susan Tierney, and Charles A Goldman. A Regional Approach to Market Monitoring in the West. Berkeley: LBNL, 2006. LBNL-61313.