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Distribution System Planning (DSP)

Oregon’s electric companies have historically planned for the maintenance and operation of safe, reliable, affordable distribution systems—the part of the electric system that takes power from high voltage power lines and delivers it to local end users. This planning and decision-making is increasingly complex, given evolving technologies, markets, customer interests, and policies. As a result, in 2019 the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) opened Docket No. UM 2005 to investigate distribution system planning.

The investigation seeks to increase understanding of how electric utilities perform these planning processes, and their investment decisions. The investigation resulted in Order No. 20-485 in December 2021. The Order lays out new DSP guidelines for a more transparent, robust, holistic, and community-centered utility planning process for distribution system operations and investments.

Developing Plans in 2021-2022

Utilities need time to transition their legacy planning practices to the activities required by the new guidelines. Electric utilities will file their first distribution system plans in two parts. Part One will be filed in October 2021, and Part Two in August 2022. Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, and Idaho Power have engaged stakeholders to prepare Part One filings.

Part One filings will include:
  • Baseline data and system assessment, which will provide a broad range of information about the condition of the distribution systems.
  • Estimated costs and timelines for implementing hosting capacity analysis at varying levels of rigor.
  • A Community Engagement Plan, to be implemented before the Part Two filing.
  • A Long-term Plan with the utility's vision for the distribution system over the next 5-10 years.

Part Two filings will include:
  • Forecasts of customer load growth, and customer adoption of both distributed energy resources and electric vehicles.
  • Identification of areas where the distribution system will need improvements.
  • Options to address the areas needing improvement.
  • Projects or investments selected for distribution system improvements.

Investigation Background

The UM 2005 investigation included numerous stages. One of these stages – the New Opportunities Stage – consisted of a series of webinars. The PUC hosted these webinars to examine topics critical to understanding distribution system planning. The webinar archive was created as a record of presentation abstracts, speaker bios, presentation slides, links to webinar recordings, and stakeholder questions. Docket No. UM 2005 will continue to retain records for the investigation.