CRA supports Liberty Utilities with renewables plan in Missouri

16 August 2019 2 min. read
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Management consultancy Charles River Associates (CRA) supported Empire District Utility Company (now Liberty Utilities) in the development of an integrated resource plan (IRP) for the replacement of a Missouri coal-fired plant with a mix of renewables.

IRPs are a public process where planners consult with stakeholders to develop mutually acceptable energy options. The plans consider a full range of power investments to deliver the most efficient outcome, and are mandated in dozens of US states.

Utility companies will often contract the services of management consultancies to support the process. In this case, Empire District Utility Company, which serves approximately 150,000 electric customers in a number of Missouri counties, engaged CRA to support its most recent integrated resource plan.

CRA supports Liberty Utilities with renewables plan in Missouri

Empire was acquired by Liberty Utilities, an operating subsidiary of Canada-based Algonquin Power & Utilities, in 2017.

CRA supported the utility company throughout the IRP process, which calls for the replacement of a coal-powered electricity plant with a mix of wind, solar, storage, and distributed investments. Climate change, public opinion, policy incentives, and falling costs of renewables technology are making renewable power investments an increasingly attractive option for local utilities.

Liberty Utilities’ IRP was filed with the Missouri Public Service Commission on June 28.

“Liberty’s resource plan reflects the changing planning environment for utilities today,” Jim McMahon, CRA vice president, said. “The utility is planning to retire a smaller coal-fired unit that is struggling to compete with lower cost resources in the market and plans to replace that capacity primarily with wind, solar, and storage. Liberty is also planning investments in distributed resource technology where certain substation investments may be avoided as a result.”

The year-long process involved numerous stakeholder meetings which delivered input on energy efficiency and grid modernization. “The stakeholder input and feedback was critical to the plan’s development,” McMahon added. “Recommendations from stakeholders were directly reflected in resource choices and ultimately helped guide the preferred plan selection.”

CRA’s energy practice supports industry clients with strategy, litigation & regulatory, and transactions & markets services. The firm's energy practice previously supported Empire with a customer savings plan that aimed to achieve savings though wind power development financed by federal tax incentives and a tax equity partner.