8 energy acronyms you should know this fall

< Back to Blog

Energy nerds unite! You may know what an IDP is, but does your spouse? How about your best friend? We invite others into the energy insiders’ conversation with a little briefer on 8 energy and utility-related acronyms everyone should know this fall.  

IOU - Investor Owned Utility

A privately owned utility that acts as a publicly owned utility. Four electric generation and five natural gas generation IOU’s operate in Minnesota. Electric includes: Xcel Energy, Ottertail Power, Minnesota Power, and Northwestern Wisconsin Electric. Natural gas includes: CenterPoint Energy, Great Plains Natural Gas Company, Greater Minnesota Gas, Minnesota Energy Resources Corporation (MERC), and Xcel Energy.

PUC - Public Utilities Commission 

A government agency that regulates public utility services and with the goal of ensuring safe, adequate and efficient utility services at fair, reasonable rates. Learn more about the Public Utilities Commission in Minnesota. 

IRP - Integrated Resource Plan

An integrated resource plan is a roadmap that large utilities use to plan out generational acquisitions over five, 10, or 20 years (or more). Utilities plan out what power generation their systems will need over that time period. These plans discuss and use modeling to anticipate system changes, such as retirements of existing power resources, and future needs. Plans include technical and economic details (and a lot of acronyms). The IRPs are typically filed once every two years. Xcel Energy recently filed their resource plan for 2020-2034 this past summer. 

IDP - Integrated Distribution Plan 

An integrated distribution plan focuses on the state of the grid that delivers power to our homes and businesses. This plan essentially acts as the granular map for how utilities will deliver power to each of their customers, and how a customer’s specific on-site power interacts with energy systems (e.g. rooftop solar, storage, etc). As clean energy expansion grows in the residential and commercial sector, this is changing the way utilities modernize the grid to meet customer needs.

kW: Kilowatt

A measure of power equal to 1,000 watts (W). For reference, the average size of a residential solar PV system in the U.S. is 5 kW according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

kWh: Kilowatt Hour

Essentially a kilowatt hour is how much energy you’re using in an hour. kWh is a unit of energy equal to 3.6 megajoules. If energy is transmitted or used at a constant rate (power) over a period of time, the total energy in kilowatt hours is equal to the power in kilowatts multiplied by the time in hours.

MW: Megawatt

A measure of power equal to one million watts. 

GW: Gigawatt

 A measure of power equal to one billion watts.