expertise \ resource planning

Achieving least-cost energy solutions through
rigourous, long-term planning

Throughout the 1970s, simplistic demand forecasts throughout much of North America significantly overestimated future needs. This, coupled with the blinding effect of repeated oil crises, resulted in expensive capacity additions to utility grids and consequent rate hikes.

Regulators and stakeholders first responded to these problems by using more sophisticated forecasting techniques and by explicitly acknowledging future uncertainties. Additional concerns over environmental impacts led to a refining of this "least-cost planning" approach by placing demand-side options on a level footing with new supply, and incorporating environmental externalities into the planning process. Finally, regulators and utilities realized that the process of identifying least-cost energy solutions would benefit tremendously from comprehensive stakeholder input from the outset - rather than at the tail end - of the decision-making process.

The Helios Centre's expertise in this field revolves around the four cornerstones of what is commonly termed least-cost, integrated resource planning, namely:

Our expertise in these areas has been used extensively by environmental groups, government agencies and industry players, with an aim to identifying and adopting a balanced portfolio of energy supply- and demand-side options. Ultimately, we help not only in identifying and achieving least-cost energy solutions for society, but in choosing the appropriate methods to do so.

At the Helios Centre, we share in the belief that long-term energy planning is often desirable and in some cases essential for identifying and selecting the portfolio of energy solutions that effectively minimizes costs to consumers and to society. We also recognize that each market is different: where regulated monopolies are concerned, thorough resource planning may be more pertinent than where workable competition is in place. Even in fully competitive markets, however, some degree of long-term planning may well be appropriate, in particular where large-scale hydroelectric plants are involved.

For an example of the type of work we do in this field, please go to Accomplishments / Sample Projects on the menu to the left. To download our publications, please choose Publications.