Integrated Resource Plan

Community meeting questions

Preguntas y respuestas en español

During the 2024 IRP engagement process, community members have submitted questions virtually and in person. Below you will find a categorized list of these questions and answers that will provide further insight into the integrated resource planning process. If you have any questions or comments regarding Platte River's integrated resource planning, submit them via email to

Resource planning is a continuous and dynamic process at Platte River. As part of this ongoing effort, Platte River develops an IRP together with our owner communities. The IRP is a critical tool for establishing a near-term action plan and long-term trajectory that will ensure an adequate supply of reliable, environmentally responsible and financially sustainable electricity.
With the volume of information and supporting studies that must be evaluated, the 2024 planning process starts in Q2 2023 and goes into Q3 2024.

More specifically, a specific set of criteria is required by the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), one of four power marketing administrations within the U.S. Department of Energy ), to complete the IRP. In addition to satisfying WAPA’s criteria, Platte River’s IRP process will consist of the following efforts:

  • Community listening sessions to assess customer sentiment toward the composition of Platte River’s future generating mix
  • Collecting information to be used in the evaluation of future generation portfolios, such as cost and performance characteristics
  • Reports from independent advisors regarding subjects that will provide insight to guide the overall IRP analysis
  • An analysis of a wide range of generation options that can be used to meet portfolio planning objectives
  • Variations of key variables to determine a range of outcomes with different costs and performance outcomes to understand risks and rewards for different levels of renewable integration
  • Recommendation of a portfolio for implementation
  • Distribution of findings, including final recommendations to the board and our community owners
A combined listening session for all community members, instead of one in each community, allows for a unified discussion around our energy future. In total, there will be three community listening sessions during the 2024 IRP process.
Platte River and its owner communities promote the hybrid listening sessions on social media as well as through local media outlets. In doing so, we hope to reach and encourage all community members to be engaged in the integrated resource planning process.
Platte River contracts with a state lobbyist to advocate on behalf of the organization and the owner communities. Additionally, Platte River’s external affairs team monitors local, state and federal legislation and engages with local and state representatives. The external affairs team also manages our relationship and participation in national-level organizations like the American Public Power Association and the Large Public Power Council, which advocate for public power utilities like Platte River.
We encourage you to take part in Platte River’s 2024 IRP process by:

  • Attending one of the community listening sessions
  • Providing your comments or sending your questions via email to
  • Visit for more information and to sign up to receive updates
Platte River has just launched a public education campaign that will first familiarize the end user with who Platte River is. This groundwork will be important when Platte River and its owner communities conduct public education campaigns in the future geared toward encouraging customers to adopt flexible distributed energy resources and smart energy use.
Platte River is a wholesale electric provider for Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont and Loveland. Although it is not a retail electric provider, Platte River staff does collaborate with staff from the owner communities to offer the Efficiency WorksTM programming directly to their electric customers. As details are released from state and federal agencies on available rebates and tax credits offered from the Inflation Reduction Act and Colorado legislation for electric upgrades at residential and commercial properties, program staff continue to identify options to provide customers the ability to capture and stack incentives when possible. You can find more rebates information on the Efficiency Works website.

Additionally, Platte River is procuring solar and wind generation under long term contracts. The suppliers of these renewable resources claim the PTC (Production Tax Credits) and ITC (Investment Tax Credits) provided through the IRA. With these credits, the renewable resource price offered to Platte River is lower relative to what it would be without the IRA benefits. Platte River, being a non-profit entity, passes these savings on to our customers.

Resource diversification

The Platte River Board of Directors approved the Resource Diversification Policy which directs Platte River’s leadership to proactively work toward a 100% noncarbon energy mix by 2030, provided the foundational pillars of system reliability, environmental responsibility and financial sustainability can be maintained. The policy also includes nine caveats that must be met, including expansion of transmission infrastructure, development and implementation of distributed energy resources, and maturation of battery storage technology.

Current modeling from the 2022 resource plan shows a path to an 88% noncarbon energy mix is possible by 2030. Platte River and our owner communities (Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont, and Loveland, Colorado) will continue to work toward the goal of 100% noncarbon energy without sacrificing our three foundational pillars.

The Resource Diversification Policy directs Platte River to proactively work toward 100% noncarbon energy by 2030 while maintaining system reliability, environmental responsibility and financial sustainability. If technology and reliability challenges remain as obstacles to achieving 100%, Platte River and the owner communities will continue to work toward the goal in a responsible and sustainable manner that maintains system reliability.
Platte River is working toward the goal set by the Resource Diversification Policy, which the board passed to help the owner communities reach their respective, but united, goals of a noncarbon energy future.
As Platte River moves toward a noncarbon energy future, it must maintain its three foundational pillars of reliability, financial sustainability and environmental responsibility, as mandated in the 2018 board-approved Resource Diversification Policy. Platte River’s three foundational pillars are equally important.


Platte River does not have the option to increase its hydropower allocation from the Western Area Power Administration. The Western Area Power Administration’s hydropower allocations are fixed and, in general, decreasing due to persistent drought conditions. It is not feasible for Platte River to independently develop new hydropower facilities.
Hydropower allocations are correlated to rainfall and snowpack. The western United States has seen a long-term drought over the past many years resulting in reduced hydropower allocations. However, due to the above average rains in river basins over the past few months, in 2023 we have seen a slight increase in hydro energy available from WAPA.
Platte River is developing this IRP in line with the board’s direction to proactively work toward a noncarbon energy future. Platte River receives its hydropower energy from the Western Area Power Administration. Our plans will consider different amounts of hydropower energy, including less energy than has been available in the past.
Modeling from the 2022 resource plan shows a path to an 88% noncarbon energy mix is possible by 2030. Current modeling for the 2024 IRP has thus far confirmed this forecast and we are very confident that we will provide 85%+ noncarbon energy in 2030.
Since 2018, Platte River has made significant progress toward our Resource Diversification Policy goal. We have added 225 MW of wind, 22 MW of solar and a 2 MWh battery. At the same time, our hydropower allocations have steadily declined due to a long-standing regional drought. Even with reduction in hydro generation, in 2022 we provided 60% more renewable generation compared to 2018. Moving forward, the Black Hollow Solar project will add 150 MW of solar (expected to be operational in 2025). We are currently evaluating an RFP for solar and storage issued in 2022. During October 2023, we issued an RFP for up to 250 MW wind. With these projects, we will continue our journey towards a deeply decarbonized portfolio in 2030.

Aeroderivative combustion turbines

Platte River has determined that the new generation needs to be operational by early 2028 to allow time to test and prove reliability of the new units prior to Rawhide coal Unit 1 being decommissioned. Construction and permitting for the new units are expected to take approximately four years. Therefore, to meet critical deadlines Platte River needs to begin permitting in early 2024.
A dispatchable resource is where power output can be changed quickly to complement renewable generation intermittency and balance load and renewable generation in real time. It can start, stop, speed up and slow down quickly to produce more or less generation. Dispatchable resources include dispatchable thermal generation, virtual power plant and battery storage.

Platte River is seeking board support for the future deployment of a dispatchable thermal generation resource. With the board’s support, Platte River’s proposed 2024 Strategic Budget includes a request for funds associated with the detail design and technical specifications. Platte River’s budget also includes a request for funds to begin the multi-year distributed energy management system (DERMS) to enable visibility into distributed energy resources as part of the virtual power plant. Funding will also be requested for the distributed energy resources programs related to electric vehicles and heat pumps. Battery storage is in Platte River’s long-term transition plan beyond 2024.

We refer to the new aeroderivative combustion turbines as firing natural gas because that is the primary fuel. Methane (CH4) is a major component of natural gas prior to combustion. Platte River is required to test the natural gas used at Rawhide periodically. Prior to being combusted, roughly 90% of the natural gas is comprised of methane. However, once burned the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the combustion turbines are roughly 99.9% carbon dioxide (CO2).
We will continue to use the existing combustion turbines during extreme weather and dark calms.

We need new dispatchable thermal, aeroderivative combustion turbines to complement renewable generation on a minute to minute, hour to hour and day to day basis. They will be frequently starting, stopping, accelerating and decelerating as the output from wind and solar varies from instant to instant. We can illustrate this need with an example.

The following chart shows Platte River’s renewable generation and load on Oct. 1, 2023, measured every 5 minutes. The top black line shows a gradual increase in load while the green line shows total renewable generation. It can be seen that renewable generation changes very frequently. This chart shows renewable generation from 225 MW of wind and 52 MW of solar. By 2030, Platte River will add a lot more solar and wind. This means, for 2030, the absolute level of the green chart will be higher, but the weather pattern could be exactly the same. These variations will require new dispatchable, flexible and efficient aeroderivative combustion turbines to ensure customer load is met.

Platte River’s existing combustion turbines were not designed for this type of wildly varying duty cycle while aeroderivative turbines are designed for this purpose. Additionally, during dark calm periods, Platte River’s load could be as high as 600 – 700 MW. The existing 388 MW of combustion turbines along with about 70 MW of hydro will not be sufficient to meet our customer’s future load during the dark calm period. Therefore, we need additional turbines.

Resource planning

A dispatchable resource is a resource where power output can be changed quickly to complement renewable generation intermittency. A dispatchable generation resource will balance load and renewable generation in real time. It can start, stop, speed up and slow down quickly to produce more or less generation when needed.
The 2024 IRP studies and modeling will help to identify future resources needed to maintain Platte River’s three foundational pillars. Platte River’s solution, based on current technology, will include a combination of many resource types and technologies, including solar, wind, batteries and dispatchable thermal resources.
We buy gas from the gas companies in the pipeline system and not at the well. When we burn that gas, we consider CO2 released. We are planning to acquire state-of-the-art, high-efficiency and highly flexible dispatchable resources that could burn hydrogen in the future to minimize CO2 emissions.
For our 2030 portfolio needs, we are considering only commercially proven and economical technologies. There are not many known sources of commercially proven geothermal energy in our area and micro-nuclear technology is in the early development stage, and therefore, has not been considered. As these technologies continue to improve and gain commercial acceptance, we will consider them for our future needs.
Typically, waste-to-energy plants are smaller. When they are economical, the industrial owners install them next to the existing processing facilities where waste energy is available. These plants have to be located within the industrial unit, and are generally owned and operated by the industry, not the utility. Platte River does not consider current waste-to-energy technologies available to Platte River as commercially viable.
Rawhide Unit 1 will retire by 2030, 16 years before its planned retirement date. The Rawhide Energy Station has multiple generation resources that employees will need to maintain and support. Platte River is developing plans to smoothly transition employees to new roles after Unit 1 retires, as directed by Platte River’s Board Resolution No. 08-20: Responsible Transition for Rawhide Employees. Beginning in 2030, Unit 1 will undergo a lengthy decommissioning process.
Renewable natural gas typically refers to the methane gas produced at municipal waste facilities that is refined to become equivalent to pipeline quality natural gas.
Platte River plans to retire all its coal resources by the end of 2029. In 2030, we expect renewables to provide more than 85% of Platte River’s load. During the next decade, we expect the development and commercialization of long duration energy storage and green hydrogen technologies which will eventually enable 100% noncarbon supplies.
Based on our current analysis, 200 MW of dispatchable thermal capacity will be enough. We will continue to refine our analysis and recommend a final portfolio by Spring 2024. We don’t expect the final value to be widely different.
We are not aware of any large country that provides 100% renewable energy to its power grid on a 24/7 basis. Norway and Sweden can provide large amounts of electricity from renewable resources due to abundant hydroelectric energy. As most of the wind and solar equipment suppliers are global players, they are using their experiences from across the world to improve their technologies. When Platte River acquires solar, wind and storage technologies, we are taking advantage of the latest developments across the world.
Hopefully not. The recent increases were driven by large demand, emphasis to nationalize production and some supply chain issues lingering from the impacts of COVID-19. Renewable equipment supply is a commodity business, and, like any commodity, the prices will continue to fluctuate.
Behavior determines how much flexibility our customers have with respect to the use of electricity. The concept of a VPP (virtual power plant) relies on customers willing to alter their usage patterns when the grid needs their support. As Platte River implements its DER (distributed energy resources) strategy, customer behavior will be a key success factor. For modeling purposes, we expect to get 32 MW of VPP capacity in 2030 out of the total enrolled capacity of about 70 MW.

EVs and home electrification are expected to greatly impact electricity demand in the coming years. We are modeling EVs and home electrification will increase our demand by more than 5% by 2030 and by more than 20% by 2040.
Platte River and its owner communities maintain their power supply infrastructure according to the best utility practices. There is general belief that as more and more customers add EV and HE load, some parts of the power supply infrastructure, especially wires and transformers may need to be upgraded to handle the additional load.
The short answer is not directly and not generally. However, some of our consultants use predictive analytics in load and renewable forecasting. Predictive analytics use historical data as well as current data (such as temperature, wind speed, etc.) to develop forecasts. Predictive analytics models have been trained with historical data which is sometimes referred to as “machine learning”. Machine learning is one of the techniques/process used in AI.
We use credible data sources and validate from a second set of sources where possible. For example, when we conduct competitive procurement of solar and wind, we get valuable data on the current cost of wind and solar in our area. For the future cost of renewables, we use data published by NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory). However, as per NREL’s own admission, their data has a lag of more than one year. We calibrate NREL data with the current data received from our competitive procurements to develop our forecasts. Another example is Planning Reserve Margin (PRM) used in resource planning. Our consultant suggested using a PRM of 20%. We validated it with the recommendation of WECC (Western Electricity Coordination Council), which is a non-profit corporation that exists to promote reliable electric systems in our part of the country. We also use our vendors and other credible public sources such as the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) for data and trends.
As for the first question, Platte River has already announced the retirement of Rawhide Unit 1 by 2030. Besides, this coal plant was designed to run as a base load unit. After adding a large amount of wind and solar in the next few years, Platte River will need a very flexible source of power that can start generating power within minutes as wind stops blowing or clouds pass over our solar fields. Rawhide Unit 1, converted to gas, will not be able to perform this duty cycle requiring extreme flexibility.

Similarly, for the second question, a solar thermal plant will have the same limitations (lack of flexibility).

While these are interesting propositions, we are not aware of any utility which is considering these options for old coal plants.
We are finalizing portfolios for the 2024 IRP. Our interim portfolios suggest Platte River should add about 400 MW of solar by 2030. A final recommended number will be included in the IRP report by Spring 2024.
There are losses associated with delivery of energy to load. This ranges from 1-5% depending on distance and transformation to different voltages. It is not limited to transmission and includes distribution of energy. The placement of resources across a wide geographic footprint is important to ensure reliable service.
Platte River develops its plans in-line with the three pillars of reliability, financial sustainability and environmental responsibility. These plans strive to maintain the current level of reliability, minimize cost and minimize CO2 emissions. While our target is to reach 100% noncarbon energy mix by 2030, our modeling and analysis show that such a resource mix portfolio will not be reliable and will significantly increase the cost for our customers. Therefore, we are recommending and planning for a portfolio to reach 85%+ noncarbon energy. This portfolio is expected to be reliable and will have reasonable cost impact to our customers.
There is a lot of planning for green hydrogen occurring around the world. The US Department of Energy (DOE) and the European Union have announced goals to bring the cost of green hydrogen to $1.0/Kg by 2030. The DOE recently announced funding for seven hydrogen hubs across the country. Unfortunately, Colorado’s application for hydrogen hub was not selected.

Platte River hired a consultant to investigate the availability and cost of green hydrogen to be used in the aeroderivative, flexible fuel combustion turbine technology. Their preliminary investigation indicates that green hydrogen could be available in commercial quantities by the middle of the next decade.
Based on our initial investigation, the new dispatchable thermal, aeroderivative combustion turbines can blend up 30% hydrogen with natural gas in the near future. Vendors claim that by the middle of next decade, aeroderivative combustion turbines will be able to run on 100% hydrogen. Vendors also claim that Platte River’s existing combustion turbines (models 7F and 7E) could partially run on green hydrogen after some major modifications are made to the fuel supply system. Based on our investigation, running gas turbines on green hydrogen is less of a problem than producing, transporting and storing large amounts of green hydrogen.

While we are not experts in metallurgy, we have learned that because hydrogen is the lightest element, molecules could leak through the pipes and apparatus designed for natural gas and cause embrittlement in certain steel types. We read that special steel alloys will need to be deployed to avert any damage and leakage of hydrogen.


Our portfolio in 2030 and beyond will have a mix of resources to provide reliable energy in addition to substantial wind and solar generation, storage, hydropower and access to a wider energy market. We will also have distributed energy resources where we will rely on our customers to provide resources and flexible load. Finally, we will continue to maintain our existing combustion turbines and build additional dispatchable resources. Together, all these resources will supply reliable energy for our owner communities.
We are doing a study to analyze the past occurrences of these events, including the depth, breadth and frequency. We will develop plans that withstand the events that have occurred previously and plans that will potentially withstand even worse events as we review historical trends. While future events are unknowable, we will simulate historical events for the future and develop a portfolio of supplies that can withstand past events and potentially more impactful future events.
Yes, diversity of resources is the key to the reliability and sustainability of supplies, around the clock and around the year. While solar generation is lower in the winter, there is usually more wind, while electricity demand is typically lower. Additionally, we will have some storage and hydropower and might purchase energy from neighboring utilities, if available. Finally, we will have our dispatchable resources that can provide power when needed.
After Rawhide Unit 1 retires in 2029, we will have substantial renewables, battery storage, hydropower generation, access to the market and dispatchable resources to provide reliable power across all seasons.
The integrated resource planning process identifies the most affordable and reliable strategy. In 2020, we developed four portfolios and recommended portfolio 2, a zero-coal portfolio, as the preferred plan. For the 2024 IRP, we will again develop multiple portfolios and paths and recommend the one that best supports our three pillars of reliability, financial sustainability and environmental responsibility.
We plan to have a dispatchable resource online in 2028. This will give us time to test and develop operating protocols in 2029 so that we have a reliable and ready resource available after Rawhide Unit 1 retires by the end of 2029.
Yes, electricity demand and supply need to be balanced in real time, unless there is available battery storage connected to the system. Whenever customers turn on their lights or air conditioning, additional electricity must be produced somewhere or extracted from battery storage. Conversely, whenever customers turn off appliances, production must be reduced accordingly (or there must be available storage capacity to absorb the unneeded electricity).


Storage is an important part of our portfolio. We considered storage in the 2020 IRP and will consider it for the 2024 IRP.
It is hard to put a cost on a per day basis for battery stored energy. Battery storage has a life of about 15 years. Platte River can outright purchase it and keep it as long as it lasts or buy through a long-term lease or contract. The $3 billion mentioned during the June 1 listening session was referring to the capital cost of building sufficient storage and keeping it for its useful life.
Storage technology is a key component of a reliable noncarbon resource mix. There are many technologies in research and development, like gravity batteries, iron air and flow batteries. Subterrain pressurized air uses existing compression and decompression technologies but requires a suitable geological formation to store a large amount of air under pressure. Platte River will consider commercially proven technologies to deliver reliable supplies.
Platte River is not yet testing or piloting non-lithium-ion batteries. However, we have visited manufacturing facilities that are developing commercially viable, long-duration storage batteries using iron ore technology and are currently in discussions with these manufacturers about timing, cost and potential deployment on our system.
There have been some incidents of fire in Lithium-Ion batteries, but the industry is responding to it. When we start procuring these batteries, Platte River staff and the engineering design contractors will use state-of-the-art technology and engineering practices to prevent, contain and put out fires.

As for how much water is needed to put battery fires out, that depends on the size and layout of the battery yard.
Platte River has not yet finalized the plans and have not decided exactly what specific model of batteries to procure. In our recommended portfolio, we are expecting to procure about 140 MW of 4-hour batteries which typically cost $1.5 million/MW. These are planning numbers, the exact cost will be determined by the market conditions when we competitively procure these batteries.

As for the life of these batteries, generally they last about 15 years.

4-hour storage technology is commercially available with 100s of MWs already installed across the country. Long duration energy storage (LDES) is not commercially available as of now. According to our consultants, it will likely become commercial in the next decade. LDES is the key enabler for 100% noncarbon supply. A few pilot projects using LDES technology have been announced. We expect the technology will be refined and cost will come down over the next few years.
Our general strategy regarding new technologies is to educate, explore, pilot (if required) and then deploy when commercially viable. We are following this strategy for long duration energy storage. In our recommended portfolio, we plan to pilot a 10 MW project by 2030.

As for 2-hour storage, it doesn’t fit well with our power supply portfolio. We prefer 4-hour storage as it is a better complementary match with wind and solar resources in our portfolio.
Yes, in our recommended portfolio, we are considering 10 MW of LDES pilot project by 2030.

Financial sustainability

Financial sustainability is one of Platte River’s foundational pillars for operations and resource planning. We are developing a suite of plans and will present multiple options for our board of directors to evaluate. The board’s decision will consider the wider interests of the owner communities and their customers.
Capacity resource costs are recovered through the wholesale charges. As a result, consumers may recognize capacity value from their DERs to the extent that they reduce their energy consumption. Platte River will analyze how to incorporate DERs into our resource portfolio, how they can help us achieve our Resource Diversification Policy goals and how to appropriately reflect the system value DERs provide.
Platte River’s wholesale energy costs are a portion of the retail rates set by the owner communities. Wholesale cost projections are updated several times annually. Current estimates project increases primarily driven by the Resource Diversification Policy and transitioning to a reduced carbon portfolio. At this time, wholesale rates are not anticipated to increase 65% by 2028. Platte River’s Board of Directors has sole authority to establish wholesale rates and will use multi-year rate smoothing strategies, as deemed appropriate, to avoid greater single-year impacts as wholesale rates increase.
From a rates perspective, the goal with distributed generation resources, such as rooftop solar, is to create rates that are equitable among all rate payers for the product and services received.

Platte River is working to achieve our Resource Diversification Policy goal of a 100% noncarbon portfolio by 2030. While solar generation is an important component of this goal, distributed solar resources are not the most effective or economic path to achieve this because they cannot match the generation efficiencies, predictability, dispatchability and economies of scale achieved at a wholesale level. Platte River will evaluate distributed energy resources supporting those that are operationally and economically efficient.

Platte River provides support to the owner communities developing solar rates that better reflect the value solar provides to the system and recognize the need for solar to be paired with storage to ensure reliability. Support will continue to expand by working with the owner communities to develop a virtual power plant and distributed energy resource management systems that more effectively integrate solar and improve visibility, predictability and responsiveness to the system.

In support of Platte River’s foundational pillars of providing reliable, environmentally responsible and financially sustainable energy and services, and Platte River’s mission, vision and values and strategic initiatives, Platte River’s board adopted Strategic Financial Plan provides direction to preserve long-term financial sustainability and manage financial risk. To meet Strategic Financial Plan objectives and requirements, staff established financial metrics and rate stability strategies including fiscal responsibility and rate smoothing.

The Strategic Financial Plan helps Platte River manage the financial risk associated with the volatility of costs such as purchased power agreements, commodity prices, capital investments and debt costs as Platte River, working with the owner communities, transition to a noncarbon future.
Rates are established by Platte River’s board of directors to achieve long-term objectives, strategies and financial metrics. The rates are based on projected cost of service with adequate margin. Rate smoothing is a strategy through accounting policies and multi-year analysis to develop a long-term rate path with greater predictability. The board prefers to use a multi-year rate smoothing strategy, as deemed appropriate, to avoid greater single-year rate impacts or to accomplish specified objectives. Platte River uses this mechanism to stabilize rates and increase financial flexibility.


We cannot calculate how much generation will come from outside the service area, especially as many utilities are building additional resources. Organized markets are designed to dispatch generation in a reliable and economic manner to serve market participants’ collective loads, which may or may not be served from their own generation. The question of how much we need to build is a separate issue because all market participants must have sufficient resources on their systems to serve their loads, plus a capacity (or planning reserve) margin required by the market operator or other regulations. When all market participants have sufficient resources, they address reliability and the market can step in and dispatch their generation as economically as possible.
The Southwest Power Pool, which operates the organized energy market Platte River intends to join, does not currently have a carbon credit market.
Because renewable resources operate intermittently and unpredictably, utilities need additional capacity for times when there is little or no renewable energy available. When renewables are producing well, energy can exceed load. An organized market helps to sell excess renewable energy to others who may need it instead of curtailing the renewables. A larger market “footprint” provides more access to lower-cost resources, which can help keep the system reliable while allowing more renewable generation to come online.
Platte River is an active member of the Large Public Power Council and the American Public Power Association where numerous member utilities have aggressive carbon-reduction goals. We regularly collaborate with these member utilities and discuss the challenges, opportunities and lessons learned from decarbonizing energy portfolios.
Many market transactions do not include information on the source of its emissions, so we consider “other purchases” as carbon. Low prices in the market may reflect a regional oversupply of renewables but we cannot know that for certain.
Having another entity dispatch Platte River resources directly has been a big change. SPP and Platte River have data connection points where SPP sends a setpoint signal to our resources. These resources are dispatched in a way to co-optimize the entire SPP WEIS footprint. Platte River is looking to join the SPP RTO-West, which will dispatch resources in a more efficient manner.
We are developing our current integrated resource plan based on the best utility practices with advice and data provided by advisors/consultants who work across many markets. After we join the market, we will follow the specific rules of the market. For example, we are currently developing our resource plan based on our consultant’s advice of deploying 20% planning reserve margin (PRM). When we join the market, we will develop plans according to the specific PRM requirement prescribed by the market operator.

Distributed energy resources

A distributed power system can save ratepayers money when distributed energy resources (DERs) are effectively integrated into the electric system. Effective integration requires DERs to interconnected and operated in a coordinated manner that supports reliable and cost-effective energy supply and delivery. It is critical for electric rates or incentives to accurately reflect the system costs and benefits that DERs can provide. Platte River and its owner communities are working together to build a “virtual power plant” that relies on a DER management system to provide near real-time optimization of DER operation through improved DER visibility, predictability and the ability of flexible DERs to respond to time-varying electric rates or incentives.
The integrated resource planning process is focused on evaluating resource options from the perspective of environmental responsibility, financial sustainability and reliability. To address reliability, the market requires participants to provide resources capable of meeting their anticipated peak load plus a reserve margin. When we assess adequacy, non-firm resources like wind, solar and distributed energy resources (DERs) are evaluated with a measure called effective load carrying capability (ELCC). Platte River hired an independent consultant to assess ELCC of DERs like electric vehicle charging and distributed solar.
The distributed energy resources (DER) strategy was completed in July 2021. The strategy described Platte River’s and the owner communities’ shared vision and guiding principles for DER integration and provided an approach for implementing the strategy that focuses on the importance of collaboration and coordination among Platte River and the owner communities. Implementation is now underway. Our current focus is on developing a DER technology gap assessment and roadmap that will identify the information technologies and operation technologies needed to support effective DER integration. As the roadmap is completed, our attention will shift toward implementing it and developing programs that will support DER adoption and integration.
A VPP is an aggregation of distributed energy resources (DERs) that can be dispatched to support electric system reliability, market value and benefits for customers. Platte River includes in its resource plans DERs that can be operated as part of a VPP and is working to develop a significant VPP resource. We are also working closely with the owner communities’ utilities to ensure that the VPP can be operated in a manner that supports the reliability and other benefits for their distribution systems.
Virtual power plants can have a significant impact on the need for Platte River to generate power. Some distributed energy resources (DERs), like efficiency and distributed solar, will reduce the amount of energy supplied by Platte River. Other DERs, like storage and demand response, will provide flexible capacity that Platte River could call on to support reliability when needed and available. Other DERs, like electric vehicles and heat pumps used for space and water heating, increase the load Platte River serves and may provide some flexible capacity as well. A DER forecast and potential study is underway that will provide estimates of the rate of DER adoption, how electric load within Platte River’s owner communities will be affected and how this influences the need for Platte River generation.
The current distributed solar forecast was based on information available for the 2020 Integrated Resource Plan. An updated distributed energy resource (DER) forecast and potential study is underway. This study will provide a new DER forecast, including distributed solar. Early indications suggest greater distributed solar potential compared to the last IRP. Platte River will consider this as it completes its next IRP and develops plans for a virtual power plant.
Platte River will need diverse resources to meet its Resource Diversification Policy goals. This is likely to include centralized and distributed energy resources (DERs), most importantly flexible DERs that can be managed as part of a virtual power plant.
Platte River is planning technologies needed to support effective integration of distributed energy resources (DERs). Implementing these technologies will take a few years. As the timeline for implementation of these technologies becomes clearer, we will shift our attention toward the development of DER programs that will support adoption of DERs and integrating them into a virtual power plant that can provide benefits to customers and the electric system.
Please start with the distribution utility for more information about flexible DERs and VPPs. Platte River can provide general information from the wholesale generation and transmission perspective, whereas the owner communities can provide more specific answers relative to their unique retail and distribution systems.
Management of DERs that can provide energy back to the grid, such as distributed solar, energy storage and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, starts with the owner communities’ distribution utilities. DERs interconnect with the distribution system and must be connected according to each distribution utility’s interconnection requirements.

From Platte River’s perspective, energy storage and flexible energy use will be particularly as customers adopt solar and as Platte River retires coal generation and adds wind and solar to its supply. As reliance on wind and solar increases, so too will reliance on energy storage and flexible energy use. Energy storage shifts renewable energy to align with times customers use energy and flexible energy use shifts when customers use energy to times when renewable energy is available.

Platte River is working with the owner communities’ distribution utilities to develop technology and coordinated approaches to manage DERs in a way that balances benefits to the customer with the needs of a reliable, financially sustainable and increasingly noncarbon electric system.

Platte River is developing targets for flexible DERs, which include flexible energy use, such as flexible electric vehicle charging and distributed storage. The current estimate is that by 2030 a VPP with 73 MW of enrolled flexible DERs could be built, which could be dispatched to provide 33 MW on a near daily basis (which equate to 10% and 4.6% of peak load, respectively).

This estimate will continue to be evaluated and it is subject to some potential limitations. First, most of this capacity does not exist yet; it is based on forecasted adoption by customers of electric vehicles and distributed battery storage. Second, it relies on Platte River’s and the owner communities’ development of a distributed energy resource management system (DERMS) and supporting systems to enable effective flexible DER managements. Third, it assumes program models can be developed that encourage large numbers of customers to participate and that are cost effective compared to other noncarbon resource options.

Customers interested in installing solar (as well as storage or vehicle-to-grid technology) should first start by contacting their community utility to understand the interconnection requirements and process. This will ensure that the distribution system can safely and reliably accommodate the additional supply.

Platte River’s transmission and generation systems can accommodate significantly more distributed/rooftop solar. Platte River anticipates that by 2030, there will be 155 MW of distributed solar within the communities, compared to about 30 MW today, a five-fold increase in seven years. This is equivalent to approximately 21,000 average-sized residential solar systems. Note that even with this rapid expansion in distributed solar, Platte River also anticipates adding 350 MW to our existing 52 MW of utility-scale solar, bringing the total solar resource—distributed and utility-scale—to 562 MW.

To accommodate this growth in distributed solar, two things are needed to ensure that electric system supply and energy use can be balanced from moment to moment. First, Platte River will need improved visibility into how distributed solar is performing on a near real-time basis. Second, a significant expansion in energy storage is needed.

There are a variety of things home and business owners can do now or in the future.

For those wanting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as quickly and cost effectively as possible, consider upgrading the efficiency of your home or business. Consider electrifying your building—space heat, water heat and appliances—with new efficient technologies. Consider an electric vehicle for your next vehicle purchase. Efficiency Works offers information and support for each of these opportunities.

For those wanting to help Platte River and the owner communities decarbonize the electric system, please standby and stay tuned as we develop a virtual power plant. Once we have selected a vendor, we will begin developing programs that will allow customers to participate by providing their flexible DERs. This will help us better align our increasing renewable supply with energy use as we approach our 2030 goal.

Platte River is planning for 48,000 EVs by 2030 and 188,000 EVs by 2040, compared to about 6,000 EVs today. EVs add to energy and peak load growth. At the same time, EVs are flexible loads that can participate in a future VPP.

At this time, V2G is not widely available in the United States from EV manufacturers or from companies that make EV chargers. This will change over time, but the pace is hard to forecast. Platte River hopes to make V2G part of our VPP as it becomes more widely available.

Platte River sees EVs both as a load and as a flexible resource.
Yes. The challenge of a noncarbon electric system that is largely served by wind and solar is that generation rarely matches load exactly. There will be frequent swings from surplus to deficit noncarbon generation, which will lead to swings from low to high energy prices, respectively. EVs and other flexible loads operated within the VPP can both reduce use during times of noncarbon deficit energy (high prices) and increase use when there is noncarbon surplus energy (low prices).