Distribution Capacity Expansion Planning: Current Practice, Opportunities, and Decision Support

Jeremy Keen, Julieta Giraldez, Elizabeth Cook, Andy Eiden, Scott Placide, Alan Hirayama, Brian Monson, David Mino, Fathalla Eldali

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


The distribution utility industry and its engineers are experiencing monumental shifts in consumer needs and expectations. Characterizing future native loads as compared to net load demand for long-term capacity planning is especially difficult, as consumers are increasingly adopting prosumer technologies. This paper is the culmination of 5 months of utility interviews coordinated by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) and Kevala, Inc. (Kevala) to better understand distribution capacity planning challenges. The interviews covered all aspects of capacity planning including load and DER forecasting, criteria for assessing system constraints, solution types, and organizational and decision-making structures. Our intent is to provide insight into distribution capacity planning decision support needs for utilities and the increasing number of stakeholders involved, from state and regulatory agencies to community and solution providers with interest in increasing their understanding in the distribution capacity planning process.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages27
StatePublished - 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A40-83892


  • capacity expansion planning
  • distributed energy resources
  • distribution
  • non-wire alternatives


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