Imagine, for a moment, that it’s the year 2050 and the energy transition is essentially complete. You live in a suburban cul-de-sac, and every vehicle you and your neighbors own is electric. Each house has rooftop solar panels, and a battery in the garage. Electricity flows in both directions — to customers, and from customers. And the last thing you want to happen, according to Alice Jackson, senior vice president and chief planning officer at Xcel Energy, is to bring your new EV home only to hear from your utility company that you can’t plug it in on certain days of the year.
At Xcel, the answer has been to create a whole new division dedicated to envisioning and planning for the utility systems of the future. Generation, transmission, distribution, and even natural gas service will be planned from within the same department, called the Integrated System Planning department, beginning this year.