American Electric Power (AEP) began its journey to develop a more integrated planning process across its generation, transmission, and distribution operations in 2021. At that time, the company shifted the three planning functions under a single leader and initiated a program to identify industry leading practices. Company leadership observed that traditional planning processes needed to adapt to address the increasing levels of renewable and distributed resources connecting to the grid. State regulators were also increasingly expecting utilities, including AEP, to adopt more advanced system-wide planning approaches.
The company’s Journey to an Integrated Planning Process (JIPP) is a multi-year program designed to mature the company’s planning process and provide significant benefits to customers. Working with Charles River Associates, the company developed a road map to clearly define the steps the organization will need to take to integrate the planning process and deliver the benefits of a fully integrated planning process. The road map will require the company to consider its governance approach, organizational structure and staffing, planning processes, and the models and tools it uses to develop its generation, transmission, and distribution plans each year.
While the company is at the beginning of its “journey,” it has nonetheless taken meaningful steps forward in the integration of the three planning functions. In addition, the company is planning to more comprehensively integrate transmission and distribution options in its upcoming Integrated Resource Plans (IRP) and work collaboratively with regulators and other stakeholders to evolve the process.