The integration of distributed energy resources into the electric power system is profoundly changing how we plan, build and operate the system. These new resources pose a challenge and an opportunity for distribution utilities, transmission system operators, retail energy suppliers and regulators. This manual, produced by a committee of volunteers associated with the Mid-Atlantic Distributed Resources Initiative, is designed to assist utility commissions in the restructured jurisdictions that participate in MADRI with guiding and overseeing the development of integrated distribution plans (IDPs) for electric utilities. Commissions in other states may also find it useful.

IDP is a process that systematically develops plans for the future of a distribution grid using inputs supplied by the electric utility, the commission and interested stakeholders. The planning process is integrated in the sense that all possible solutions to distribution system needs are considered. The objective of the final plan is a distribution system that operates for the public good, meeting the objectives set out by stakeholders in a cost-effective manner. Over the long term, the IDP process should reduce costs, improve efficiency and point the way toward a more sustainable distribution grid — one that is safe, secure, reliable and resilient.

This manual addresses:

  • Options and issues for establishing and overseeing a formal IDP process for electric utilities through regulatory action;
  • Steps in the process of developing an IDP;
  • Content of an IDP filing;
  • Challenges for developing and implementing an IDP and potential solutions; and
  • Technical considerations for planners.