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Distribution System Planning (DSP)

Oregon’s electric companies 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 sought 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 DSP guidelines for a more transparent, robust, holistic, and community-centered utility planning process for distribution system operations and investments.

Utility Plan Filings in 2021-2022

Electric utilities filed their first distribution system plans in two parts. Part One plans were filed in October 2021 and include:
  • Baseline data and system assessment, which 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 in conjunction with the Part Two filing.
  • A Long-term Plan with the utility's vision for the distribution system over the next 5-10 years.
Staff received written comments on the Part One filings and conducted a workshop December 10, 2021, to receive verbal comments as well. Staff reviewed the plans and the comments submitted and recommended the Commission should accept each of the plans as having met the criteria and requirements of the DSP Guidelines. The Commission adopted this recommendation at the March 8, 2022, Public Meeting through Order No. 22-083.

Part Two plans were filed in August 2022 and 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.

Review of Part Two Filings

Public Comment Requested
Staff requests feedback on Part Two filings. Stakeholders and interested parties may provide comments through the methods described in this docket announcement. The deadline for public comment is Friday, October 7, 2022, 4 p.m. Pacific. Staff will evaluate Part Two of each utility plan and in doing so, will review public comments received on each filing. 

Special Public Meeting
The PUC will hold a Special Public Meeting at which the utilities will present Part Two of their plans. This meeting will be held virtually on Thursday, September 15, 2022, from 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Pacific. An agenda with additional details and participation information will be posted closer to the event in the dockets noted in the sidebar. 

Review of the Part Two Filings
A second Special Public Meeting will be held Thursday, January 31, 2023, from 1:30 - 4:30 p.m. Pacific. At this meeting Staff will provide recommendations to the Commission. The Commission will determine whether to accept Part Two filings based on whether they meet the criteria and requirements of the DSP Guidelines. An agenda with additional details and participation information will be posted closer to the event in the dockets noted in the sidebar. 

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.