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Mississippi moves forward with integrated resource planning for utilities

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Mississippi moves forward with integrated resource planning for utilities

Mississippi utility regulators are continuing an effort to make integrated resource planning for electric utilities more unified, though it will be a waiting game to see how companies change their approach toward long-term planning.

The Mississippi Public Service Commission has created a formal process for long-term resource planning for utilities such as Mississippi Power Co. and Entergy Mississippi LLC, after it first opened a docket for investigating an IRP in 2018. (Docket 2018-AD-64)

While utilities have been conducting internal resource planning for years, the commission said "the desire for transparency" was a huge factor in its decision to consider a joint effort for an IRP.

PSC Chairman Brandon Presley told E&E News that he wants the IRP process to consider all energy resources, with energy efficiency in particular being a focus for him.

"I feel like we need to be tearing out more Sheetrock and installing more insulation rather than handing out more LED light bulbs," he said.

Presley said he wants the commission to vote on final planning guidelines by August or September.

The Mississippi PSC previously considered adopting a federal IRP standard in 2008. While the commission ultimately rejected that standard, it left the door open for the state to come back to establishing its own rules for resource planning.

It is not clear how a formalized long-term resource planning process will change utilities' forecasting or plans for procuring certain energy resources. A representative for Southern Co., Mississippi Power's parent company, said in an email that it plans to participate in the process as requested by the PSC. Darron Case, Entergy Mississippi's director of resource planning and market operations, said the company has been voluntarily submitting its resource plans for years, so the commission's decision essentially formalizes what the Entergy Corp. subsidiary has been doing so far.

"There are some new reports required as part of the rule, but we're comfortable with those from a resource planning perspective," Case said. "As we highlighted in our latest IRP, we are focused on meeting our customer's needs in the ever-changing utility space while keeping rates low, reliability high and managing risks."