CEBA Outlines Energy Customer Priorities for Meeting Resource Adequacy Needs

By Kate Harrison

Careful electricity resource planning plays a key role in enabling energy customers to achieve the Clean Energy Buyers Association’s (CEBA’s) aspiration to achieve a 90% carbon-free U.S. electricity system by 2030. Reliable grids need resource adequacy, and planners must ensure projected resource mixes can reliably meet future capacity and energy demands under nearly all conditions. To clarify customer needs, CEBA today published Energy Customer Priorities for Meeting Resource Adequacy Needs, and the Clean Energy Buyers Institute has released a new primer, Evolving Resource Adequacy Approaches Across the United States.

Frameworks used to evaluate and plan for resource adequacy have profound effects on customer costs, public health and safety, and the amount of clean energy added to the grid. CEBA’s Energy Customer Priorities for Meeting Resource Adequacy Needs recommends key planning improvements for a cost-effective and reliable energy future. The five priorities were developed with input from industry experts and large energy customers and outline ways that decision makers should improve resource adequacy planning:

  1. Resource adequacy planning should take a regional view and use a common language. Regional resource adequacy frameworks can better capture resource, weather, and load diversity than individual utility balancing area planning, due to the regional frameworks’ expansive footprints. To fully assess adequacy or maximize power pooling, regional program participants must use consistent metrics and capacity accreditation methodologies.
  2. Resource adequacy planning frameworks should meet minimum standards and evolve to meet future grid needs. Planners should use a consistent, transparent, quantifiable metric that captures system stress and use this modeling to establish resource adequacy requirements and a planning reserve margin to maintain reliability. Planning metrics must evolve to better capture changing resource and load profiles, diversified resource contributions, and the varying impacts of outages.
  3. Expanded weather data and modeling will enable better resource adequacy planning. Extreme weather increasingly impacts electricity demand and supply, with multiple compounding and competing effects on generation, load, transmission, and distribution. Planners lack sufficient forecasting data as well as historical weather data that would help them fully understand possible supply and demand outcomes with more weather-dependent loads and increasing generation from wind and solar.
  4. Transmission optimization and expansion has a crucial role in supporting resource adequacy and reliability. Expanded transmission networks allow electricity resources to be delivered across broader geographies. Optimizing existing transmission and removing barriers that slow expansion of regional and interregional transmission would support resource adequacy and fortify the grid against extreme weather events.
  5. Wholesale power planning should account for and use the benefits of demand-side resources. As customer-sited power generation increases across the grid, understanding the impact of these resources on the wholesale-level power grid would improve resource adequacy planning. Customers could determine how to best use power from the grid, ensuring critical facilities have their needs met first and others are compensated for their demand response or onsite generation.

Grid planners should also improve their understanding of customer load. Grid Strategies in a recent report noted that data centers and industrial facilities are driving unprecedented load growth, but due to grid limitations including outdated technical review processes and lack of new generation and interconnection, some parts of the country may miss out on major economic development opportunities.

For large energy customers engaged in utility planning or market design reforms in a region, understanding resource planning and future industry innovation can support their ability to evaluate reforms that can enable a low-cost, reliable, and decarbonized grid. CEBI’s new primer, Evolving Resource Adequacy Approaches Across the United States, provides a basic overview of how resource adequacy planning works.

Together, the CEBA priorities and CEBI primer will help enable customers to assess and advocate for changes that will help them reach their goals of ensuring electricity reliability, minimizing energy costs, and procuring more clean energy.