U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Tribal Energy Program

Integrated Resource Planning

Most tribes in the Western Area Power Administration service area are eligible to receive federal firm hydropower allocations through 20-year contracts. Tribes that are direct customers for federal power, or are under tribal, or federally mandated energy efficiency and renewable energy reporting programs (e.g. Federal Executive Order 13123), may be required to prepare Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs). But IRPs are also a good idea as a planning tool for all tribes.

Tribal governments are increasingly interested in participating in the control or regulation of energy generation, distribution, and consumption on their reservations. One tool used by utilities to assess future energy supply and demand is Integrated Resource Planning (IRP), which involves identifying and comparing all practicable energy efficiency and energy supply options available to the tribe, including the potential renewable energy sources located on each reservation. Section 114 of the Environmental Policy Act (EPAct) lays out the framework for an IRP, and the Western Area Power Administration Web site includes detailed instructions on how to prepare an IRP.

An IRP assesses both sides of the energy equation: what energy is used and what resources are available. The goal is to combine demand-side management (DSM) with existing energy supplies and new supplies such as distributed generation. The IRP can take into account energy efficiency and load-management programs, environmental and social factors, as well as economic costs and benefits, public participation, and the uncertainties and risks posed by different choices. It:

  • Integrates DSM programs, fuel switching and system-loss reduction with supply expansion

  • Integrates private producers, distributed generation and co-generation (CHP) with utility generation options

  • Integrates environmental impacts and risks with cost analysis (including trading of emission credits)

  • Integrates the public 'total resource' perspective with the utility perspective (subject to regulatory situation).

The process walks the planner through (1) assessing existing resources (e.g. power plants), forecasting future electric loads, and identifying objectives (e.g., reliable service, minimal environmental impacts, reasonable prices for consumers); (2) identifying options to deal with the discrepancy between expected loads and existing capacities; and (3) evaluating the economic, environmental, and societal conditions of those options. A typical IRP has six sections:

  1. Preliminary Resource Needs (Scenarios of Energy Service Growth)

  2. Resource Assessment (Cost Curves for Energy Supply + Savings)

  3. Integrated Resource Analysis (Resources Ranked by Cost and Risk)

  4. Policy Considerations (Effects on Environment and Regional Economy)

  5. Final Resource Portfolio (Least Total Cost from "Societal Perspective")

  6. Implementation Plan (Efficiency Programs + Supply Integration).

Possible options to be considered are listed below.

Demand-Side Options:

  • Consumer Energy Efficiency — home weatherization, energy-efficient appliances, lighting, heating and air conditioning, water heating, duct repair, motors, refrigeration, energy-efficient construction, appliance timers and controls, thermal storage, and geothermal heat pumps

  • Utility Energy Conservation — load management, high efficiency motors, and reduced transmission and distribution losses

  • Rates — time-of-use, interruptible, and revenue decoupling

  • Renewables — solar heating and cooling, photovoltaics, passive solar design, and daylighting.

Supply-Side Options:

  • Conventional Power Plants — fossil-fuel, nuclear, extending the life of existing plants, hydro/pumped storage, repowering, and utility battery storage

  • Non-Utility-Owned Generation — cogeneration, independent power producers, and distributed generation

  • Purchases — requirement transactions, coordination transactions, and competitive bidding

  • Renewables — biomass, geothermal, solar thermal, photovoltaics, and wind.