Clean energy policies, technological advances, and the growing popularity of customer-owned distributed energy resources are upending the traditional utility planning paradigm. At the same time, energy buyers have more choices than ever and must weigh complex trade-offs between costs, benefits, and risks.
E3 assists utilities, local governments, and large energy users with sophisticated analysis that guides sound investment and contracting decisions. We provide custom market analysis to support transactions in energy, capacity, renewable energy credits, and emissions allowances.
Our utility services include technical studies for integrated resource planning, bid evaluation, and regulatory support. E3 continues to break new ground with studies of integration needs at high renewable penetration levels in places like Hawai‘i, California, and New York.
Our resource planning and procurement services include:
- Reliability/loss-of-load probability modeling
- Production simulation and optimal dispatch modeling
- Renewable integration studies
- Flexible capacity planning and procurement
- GHG abatement strategies
- Distributed energy resource adoption forecasts
- Energy efficiency and demand response assessment and cost-effectiveness studies
- Energy storage dispatch and market co-optimization modeling
- Bid evaluation
- Regulatory support and expert testimony
- Custom forward-market price projections
- Energy procurement and contracting support for large consumers
Resource planning and procurement projects
New York Integration Analysis for Climate Action Council Draft Scoping Plan | NYSERDA, 2021 – ongoing
E3 is supporting NYSERDA in its analysis to inform the Climate Action Council’s Scoping Plan. E3 has developed scenarios showing how New York could achieve carbon neutrality as outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). This work includes a detailed analysis of buildings, transportation, industry, electricity generation, non-combustion, low-carbon fuels, and negative emissions using E3’s suite of modeling tools (PATHWAYS, RESOLVE, and RECAP) and parallel modeling efforts at NYSERDA. E3 also assessed the economy-wide cost of decarbonization and compared it to the societal benefits of reduced greenhouse gas emissions and monetized benefits of improved air quality through reduced combustion. E3’s work includes detailed modeling of the CLCPA electric sector targets, including the 70×30 and 100×40 goals as well as technology-specific targets such as the 9 GW offshore wind target.
Integrated Resource Plan Support | Xcel Energy Upper Midwest, 2019
As part of its 2019 Integrated Resource Plan, Xcel Energy retained E3 to conduct two independent analyses to support its IRP: (1) an economy-wide study for the state of Minnesota examining what would be needed to meet deep decarbonization goals throughout the economy (e.g. 80% reductions by 2050); and (2) a portfolio optimization and reliability analysis for Xcel’s portfolio to examine the costs of meeting the utility’s carbon reduction goals (80% reductions by 2030; 100% carbon-free by 2050).
E3’s statewide pathways study provided Xcel with a novel perspective on future electricity loads in the context of an economy-wide carbon reduction effort, showing how decarbonization measures such as building and transportation electrification could lead to significant long-term increases in load. These findings were used to inform a sensitivity analysis conducted within Xcel’s internal IRP modeling.
E3’s portfolio and reliability analyses were conducted in parallel with Xcel’s internal work to develop a forward-looking resource plan, testing the notion that an independent expert using advanced industry-standard methods would come to similar conclusions. E3 used RECAP for sophisticated loss-of-load-probability analysis and RESOLVE for optimal capacity expansion to design reliable, least-cost portfolios to meet carbon reduction goals, ultimately corroborating the findings in Xcel’s plan.
Integrated Resource Plan Support | El Paso Electric, 2020-21
E3 provided a broad range of IRP support services for El Paso Electric (EPE) including developing resource options and data inputs, conducting a Planning Reserve Margin and ELCC study using RECAP, optimizing EPE’s portfolios over the 2021-2045 period reflecting New Mexico’s Renewables Portfolio Standard and Energy Transition Act as well as EPE’s own goal of 80% carbon reductions by 2035, studying the operability of EPE’s system under high levels of wind and solar generation, and developing regulatory strategies for cost allocation and procurement given EPE’s multi-state service area. E3 has also been heavily involved in EPE’s stakeholder outreach and communication strategy, leading multiple stakeholder workshops and contributing to a substantial improvement in EPE’s stakeholder relations.
Read the detailed project description.
Integrated Resource Plan | California Public Utilities Commission, 2021
E3 has provided comprehensive technical and advisory support to the Energy Division of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in its administration of the state’s IRP program, mandated by the passage of SB 350 in 2016. E3 worked with CPUC staff to develop the structure of the IRP program including a three-year modeling cycle in which Staff prepares a system-wide plan that informs the California Independent System Operator (CAISO)’s annual Transmission Planning Process (TPP) and informs Load-Serving Entities integrated resource plans in alternate years.
E3 has helped the CPUC design an optimal “Preferred System Plan” for the combined utilities that incorporates the resource procurement plans of the LSEs and complies with the state’s clean energy policy requirements. In the 2020-2021 cycle, the policy requirements considered include a 60% RPS by 2030 and SB 100 by 2045, and a statewide greenhouse gas emissions target of 38 million metric tons (MMT) by 2030, while capturing the operational and reliability challenges encountered at high penetrations of variable renewable generation. E3 also supported the Energy Division’s development of a mid-term reliability order requiring the procurement of 11.5 GW of effective capacity by 2026. As part of this process, E3 evaluated dozens of scenarios reflecting alternative assumptions about load forecasts and electrification, resource costs, the availability of offshore wind and out-of-state wind, the ability of end-use loads to operate flexibly, and a variety of other input parameters.
Net Zero Carbon Pathways Study | Omaha Public Power District, 2021
To support the development of its 2021 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) engaged E3 to perform a comprehensive study on various pathways for OPPD to achieve net zero carbon by 2050. With a goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, OPPD sought a study to understand different pathways to achieve their target emissions, reliability, costs, and generation. E3’s study consisted of three primary phases: multi-sector modeling using the E3 PATHWAYS model to develop multiple electricity sector demand forecasts; reliability and resiliency analysis using the E3 RECAP model; and portfolio optimization using the E3 RESOLVE model to develop cost-optimal electricity portfolios that achieved both net-zero carbon and target reliability by 2050. E3 found that OPPD can achieve net zero while balancing affordability and reliability and that all net zero pathways require a cessation of coal generation and reduced use of fossil generation. A mix of new low-carbon resources including renewable energy, energy storage, and community-wide energy efficiency will be required as well as firm capacity resources, which will be needed to maintain resource adequacy.
Resource Adequacy in the Desert Southwest
In the aftermath of recent blackouts in California and Texas, the subjects of reliability and resource adequacy have risen to national prominence. Regulators and policymakers – as well as the general public and media – have taken a keen interest in these topics, and many have questioned whether the industry is adequately prepared to confront […]
Pacific Northwest Resource Adequacy Study | Pacific Northwest Utilities, 2018-19
E3 was retained by a consortium of public and private utilities in the Pacific Northwest to evaluate regional resource adequacy under a resource mix that, for both economic and public policy reasons, is transitioning toward higher levels of renewable energy and storage and away from coal. The study used E3’s RECAP model to examine the reliability of different portfolios and reliability contributions of individual resources such as wind, solar, hydro, and energy storage. The study examined both near-term (2030) and long-term (2050) systems. The results found that the Northwest region needs new capacity in the near term to meet growing loads and compensate for planned coal retirements. In the long term, E3 found that deep decarbonization could be achieved if sufficient firm capacity was retained for reliability during times of low wind, solar, and hydro generation. While wind, solar, hydro, and battery storage could provide reliability benefits to the system, replacing all carbon-emitting firm resources with these alternatives was found to be impractical due to the large overbuild required. Study sponsors included the Public Generating Pool (PGP), a consortium of publicly owned utilities in Washington and Oregon; Avista Corporation; Puget Sound Energy; and Northwestern Energy.
Long-Run Resource Adequacy Under Deep Decarbonization Pathways for California | Calpine, 2018-19
Building on E3’s prior work for the California Energy Commission, this study examines which resources will be needed to maintain resource adequacy in a future California electricity system that is deeply decarbonized and heavily dependent on renewable energy and electric energy storage to meet California’s economy-wide 2050 greenhouse gas reduction goal. Whereas E3’s previous work identified resources California should build to meet GHG and renewable energy targets, this study takes an in-depth look at electric system reliability requirements – and specifically which resources are needed to maintain acceptable long-run reliability in a cost-effective manner. After examining resource adequacy through loss-of-load-probability (LOLP) modeling across thousands of simulated years using its RECAP model, E3 found that achieving economy-wide goals does not require full decarbonization of the electricity sector and that the least-cost electricity portfolio to meet 2050 economy-wide goals includes very large quantities of solar + storage and retains 17 GW to 35 GW of firm natural gas capacity for reliability.
Investigating the Economic Value of Flexible Solar Plants
Solar power has grown rapidly around the world, driven by steep cost reductions and increasing interest in carbon-free energy. In 2017, solar power was the second-largest source of new U.S. electric generating capacity, and in each of the last five years it has accounted for more than a quarter of all U.S. capacity additions. Significant strides have […]
Study of Policies to Decarbonize Electric Sector in the Northwest I Public Generating Pool, 2017 – present
On behalf of the Public Generating Pool (PGP), a group of hydro-owning public power entities in Washington and Oregon, E3 completed a study exploring the effectiveness of a range of policy mechanisms to decarbonize the electric sector. This study used RESOLVE, E3’s optimal capacity expansion model, to develop optimized generation portfolios for the region through 2050 that capture […]
- Pacific Northwest Low Carbon Scenario Analysis – Technical Report
- Pacific Northwest Low Carbon Scenario Analysis
- Public Generating Pool_2018 Pacific NW Scenarios and Sensitivities_Final Report
- Climate Solutions_2018 Pacific NW Scenarios and Sensitivities_Final Report
- National Grid_2018 Pacific NW Scenarios and Sensitivities_Final Report
Flexibility assessment for wind integration | Portland General Electric, 2014–15
After Oregon set renewable portfolio standard (RPS) goals of 25 percent by 2015 and 50 percent by 2040, Portland General Electric (PGE) turned to E3 to study the flexible generation capacity necessary to meet wind integration needs. Our studies considered the variability, uncertainty, and timing of renewable energy output, and we considered alternative resources such as flexible combined cycle gas turbine plants, frame and aero-derivative combustion turbines, reciprocating engines, and energy storage. Our analysis informed the resource procurement strategy in PGE’s 2016 integrated resource plan. The studies found that PGE’s need for within-hour operational flexibility is not a significant driver of the value or need for new gas resources, even at a 50 percent RPS.
Least-cost planning for achieving Hawai‘i’s 100 percent RPS | HECO, 2015–present
With more than two decades of experience in Hawai‘i, E3 is now helping the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) plan for the grid transformation needed to reach 100 percent renewable generation by 2045. Our long-term analysis supported development of the utility’s Power System Improvement Plan (PSIP), with modeling centered on individual island plans and interisland transmission. The study develops least-cost expansion plans for each island using a variety of policy cases and fuel price forecasts. E3 used its Renewable Energy Solutions model (RESOLVE) to explore the economic trade-off between renewable curtailment and investments in storage, and to develop least-cost expansion plans consistent with each scenario. We also solicited and incorporated stakeholder input. HECO filed the PSIP, including testimony and support from E3, with the Hawai‘i Public Service Commission in December 2016.
Investigating a higher RPS for California | LADWP, PG&E, SMUD, SDG&E, and SCE, 2013–14
On behalf of California’s five largest electric utilities, E3 evaluated the challenges, costs, and potential solutions for achieving a 50 percent renewables portfolio standard (RPS) by 2030. Using our Renewable Energy Flexibility Model (REFLEX), we performed detailed operational studies of power system dispatch flexibility constraints under high levels of wind and solar generation. We found that achieving a 50 percent RPS is feasible and that California’s power system can remain reliable as long as renewable resources can be dispatched in response to grid needs. Our study recommended strategies for integrating higher levels of renewables, including greater regional coordination, renewables portfolio diversity, flexible generation capacity, flexible loads, and energy storage. We found that deploying these strategies would reduce the need to curtail renewables, lowering the cost of reaching 50 percent RPS.
Procurement and rate design | Lower Valley Energy, 2001–16
E3 has provided procurement and rate-making advice to Wyoming’s Lower Valley Energy (LVE) since 2001. Our long-term procurement plans have carefully addressed LVE’s need to mitigate cost increases due to changes in either market prices of energy or Bonneville Power Administration’s rates. We have also helped LVE assess the merits of different rate structures and compare the value of building generation in its own service territory with the costs of building new transmission facilities to access alternative power sources. Most recently, we provided an independent evaluation of the costs and benefits of a potential merger with a neighboring co-op utility.