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Integrated Distribution Planning

Integrated Distribution Planning, (also known as IDP or a distribution system plan), is the process where a utility, the Commission, and stakeholders examine a utility’s current and planned projects and spending for its distribution system. The distribution system connects homes and businesses to the energy supplied by the utility. More recently, the distribution system lets those same homes and businesses send energy back to the utility through things like solar panels or battery storage systems. A well-planned distribution system also allows homes and businesses to use electric vehicle (EV) charging, smart water heaters, and thermostats to conserve energy and decrease stress on the entire system.

Distribution planning objectives

• Maintain and enhance the safety, security, reliability, and resilience of the electricity grid, at fair and reasonable costs, consistent with the state’s energy policies

• Enable greater customer engagement, empowerment, and options for energy services

• Move toward the creation of efficient, cost-effective, accessible grid platforms for new products, new services, and opportunities for adoption of new distributed technologies

• Ensure optimized utilization of electricity grid assets and resources to minimize total system costs

• Provide the Commission with the information necessary to understand utilities’ short-term and long-term distribution system plans, the costs and benefits of specific investments, and a comprehensive analysis of ratepayer cost and value

IDP filing requirements

The Commission required rate-regulated utilities (Xcel, Minnesota Power, Otter Tail Power, Dakota Electric Association) to begin filing IDPs in 2018 [1] and 2019. [2] In 2022 the Commission required utilities to combine existing Transportation Electrification Plans (TEP) with IDPs for investor-owned utilities. [3] See table below for docket and order citations. The Commission reviews and accepts IDPs. Recent legislative changes to IDPs and TEPs are under review (See Law 2023, Ch. 60, Art. 12. Chapter 60 - MN Laws ).

The Commission requires utilities to include the following information in IDPs:

  • Baseline data on:

    • Distribution system
    • Distribution budget and spending
    • Distributed Energy Resources (DER)
  • Hosting capacity and interconnection

  • DER futures analysis (scenario planning)

  • Long-term distribution system investment plan ( 5 & 10 year)

  • Non-wires Alternatives analysis

  • Transportation Electrification Plan (investor-owned utilities only (Xcel, Minnesota Power, Otter Tail Power)

Review process

Rate-regulated utilities submit their IDPs on November 1 of each odd numbered year. Prior to submitting their IDPs, utilities must hold at least one stakeholder meeting that covers DER forecasts and 5-year investment plans. Members of the public can participate in these meetings to learn more and provide feedback on utilities’ plans.

After utilities file their IDPs, the Commission will issue a Notice of Comment period. This Notice provides another opportunity for any interested person or organization to weigh in on each utility’s plan. At an Agenda Meeting, the Commission may accept the IDP filing. Acceptance means the Commission agrees that the utility’s filing included all reporting requirements.

IDP docket numbers for each utility

Dakota Electric Association Minnesota Power Otter Tail Power Xcel Energy

Initial Filing


18-255 18-254 18-253 18-251
2019 IDP 19-674 19-684 19-693 19-666
2021 IDP 21-728 21-390 21-612 21-694
2023 IDP 23-420 23-258 23-380 23-452


[2] ORDER ADOPTING INTEGRATEDDISTRIBUTION-PLAN FILING REQUIREMENTS, February 20, 2019, Dockets E017/CI-18-253, E015/CI-18-254, E111/CI-18-255

[3] ORDER, December 8, 2022, Dockets E999/CI-17-879, E002/M-21-694, E015/M-21-390, E017/M-21-612

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