skip to content
Primary navigation

Resource Planning

Integrated Resource Planning, (also known as IRP or a resource plan), is the process where a utility, the Commission, and stakeholders examine a utility’s current and planned electricity generation for the next 15 years. The IRP is a forward looking document that requires utilities to give advance notice of how they plan to generate electricity over the coming decade and a half. Decisions on generation can affect many things, such as electric rates, the communities where power plants are located, and the environment. A resource plan provides a way for interested people and organizations to review these plans and offer input.

Commission Rules suggest utilities file a plan every two years, but depending on the utility’s plans and the size of the utility, the two year rule may be varied.

  1. Once a utility files a resource plan, the following timeline for input typically applies:
  2. Anyone who believes the IRP is incomplete may file comments within 30 days of the plan being filed;
  3. Initial comments on the merits of the resource plan are due four months after the filing;
  4. Reply comments are due two months after initial comments are received.

Please check any pending IRP dockets (listed in the table below) for exact scheduling and deadlines.

After reply comments are filed, the Commission compiles a summary of all of the input received, schedules the matter for an agenda meeting, and approximately a week prior to the agenda meeting, issues Briefing Papers summarizing the IRP and significant issues raised in the plan. The Commissioners will then make a decision on the resource plan at one of its regular agenda meetings. For investor owned utilities (like Xcel Energy), the Commission may approve, reject, or modify the plan. For Cooperative or Municipal resource plans, the Commission’s decision is advisory. Utilities that have a very small presence in Minnesota file O-IRPs.

Utility

Docket Number

Status

Basin Electric Power Cooperative

19-425

O-IRP

Dairyland Power Cooperative

19-428

O-IRP

Great River Energy (GRE)

17-286

Completed, Order Issued November 28, 2018

Interstate Power & Light Company

17-374

Completed, Order Issued April 2, 2019

Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (MMPA)

18-524

Completed, Order Issued May 28, 2019

Minnesota Power

15-690

Completed, Order Issued July 18, 2016

Minnkota Power Cooperative, Inc.

Northern Municipal Power Agency (NMPA)

19-416

Pending

Missouri River Energy Services (MRES)

16-509

Completed, Order Issued May 18, 2017

Otter Tail Power Company

16-386

Completed, Order Issued April 26, 2017

Southern MN Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA)

17-753

Completed, Order Issued October 24, 2018

Xcel Energy

19-368

Pending


FAQ

Q. How do I comment on a utility’s resource plan?

There are several ways to file a comment on a pending resource plan.

  1. Email your comments to consumer.puc@state.mn.us. Please make sure you include the docket number and the name of the utility who’s IRP you wish to comment on.
  2. Use SpeakUp! on the Commission’s website – click on “Open Discussions” to search for the correct docket.
  3. Using the Commission’s eFiling system – www.mn.gov/puc, select eFiling, and follow the prompts to create an account to file comments.
  4. Mail your comments to Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, 121 7th Place East, Suite 350, Saint Paul, MN 55101.

Q. How do I read a utility’s resource plan?

All utility resource plans are filed electronically with the Commission in its eDockets system. Select Search eDockets, enter the year and the docket number, and select Search. The table above lists each utility’s most recent filing docket number and status. For example, to read Xcel Energy’s current resource plan you would enter 19 under year and 368 under docket number.

If you would like to receive updates when a new document is filed, you can subscribe to a docket:

  1. Click here or use the “subscribe” button on the Commission’s homepage
  2. Fill out your email address in the Email Address field.
  3. Choose Docket Number from the Type of Subscription drop-down menu.
  4. Enter the docket number in the drop downs – for example, for Xcel’s IRP select 19 in the first box and 368 in the second.
  5. Click the Add to List button.
  6. Click Save.

Q. How do utilities decide what decisions they intend to make in their resource plans?

Utilities must first look to state law. Minnesota has state laws requiring things such as: 1) a percentage of energy generated from renewable energy; 2) projects funded from the Renewable Development Fund (RDF); 3) affordable and reliable service. Utilities must also make sure their resource plan complies with the Commission’s resource planning rules in Minn. Rules Chapter 7843.

Utilities forecast the anticipated demand for electricity over the planning period. They then use modeling software to determine which set of resources will comply with state environmental policy, provide reliable service, and keep rates as low as practicable. Once it decides on its preferred plan, the utility submits it to the Commission for approval.

Q. Why hasn’t my utility terminated certain generation units that are either not environmentally friendly or are high cost?

There may be many reasons. If the generation unit is under a Power Purchase Agreement (a type of contract), the utility may not legally be able to end the agreement under its signed contract. There may also be reliability considerations. If a generation unit is high cost, it will be evaluated during the resource planning process to determine its future.

Q. Why isn’t a particular program or item included in my utility’s resource plan?

Resource plans are a forward looking planning document that focus on the utility’s forecast of energy needs in the next 15 years, and modeling of different scenarios showing how total conservation and electricity generation could meet those energy needs. In other words, it is a whole system view. Many customer programs, like conservation, are decided through other processes, some of which are described in the chart below. 

Conservation Improvement Programs (CIP)

While a utility’s resource plan may outline that it will achieve a certain amount of load reduction through energy conservation measures, the IRP does not address the specific programs (for example, LED lighting or efficient appliances) that it would use to meet those goals. Utilities submit plans to the Department of Commerce every three years where they outline what specific conservation measures they plan to offer.

Transportation Electrification

The utility’s forecast of its energy needs over the coming years may include increased energy sales due to electric vehicle adoption, however the IRP will not examine whether the utility plans to engage in specific transportation electrification initiatives.

Investor owned utilities are required to file Transportation Electrification Plans (TEPs) with the Commission that outline their plans for electric vehicles.

Renewable Energy Rates

Time of Day Rates

Real Time Pricing

Renewable rate options, or other rates, are specific retail programs filed in tariffs (a document that lays out what utilities are allowed to charge a customer) with the Commission. Rates cannot be decided in a resource plan. For investor owned utilities, rates must be first proposed in a tariff, commented on by interested stakeholders, and then approved by the Commission. By law, any utility that has its rates regulated by the Commission cannot charge a rate unless it has first been approved in a tariff. Most cooperative and municipal utilities can charge rates without approval from the Commission.

Smart grid investments

Non-wires alternatives

The Commission requires rate regulated utilities to file Integrated Distribution System plans which contain details about the utility’s planned distribution system investments, non-wires alternatives, and smart grid advancements.

 

Q. I have additional questions about the resource planning process. Who can I contact at the Commission?

You can call the Commission’s Consumer Affairs Office, who will help connect you to the correct staff person at the Commission.

Phones: 651.296.0406 or 800.657.3782
Email: consumer.puc@state.mn.us.

Please note that Commission staff are governed by the Commission’s ex parte rules. This means that Commission staff can explain the process, but generally do not discuss the merits of a pending resource plan.

back to top