Policy

The Utility of the Future Pt 2: Innovation in Missouri

The Midwest has a strong track record of creativity and innovation: sliced bread, improv comedy, the Model T and, best of all, Post-It notes! And now we see that same spirit of innovation being pursued within the utility sector.

In my July 18 blog post, I alluded to the Missouri Public Service Commission’s (PSC) inquiry into emerging issues in utility regulation. Missouri is one of four Midwest states that have, or are undertaking, “utility 2.0” or “utility of the future” exploratory initiatives.

In April, the PSC issued an order (EW-2017-0245) opening a working case to explore five emerging issues:

It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times (for Data Wonks)

As we hit mid-summer, I begin to look forward to the things I love about the fall: jackets and sweaters, my kids going back to school and four months of being up to my ears in utility data. This is the time of year that I plan for one of my most challenging annual tasks - updating MEEA’s tracking data to include the latest round of utility annual reporting on energy efficiency spending and savings. It's a labor of love that occupies much of my time September through January so we can release new estimates at our annual Midwest Energy Solutions Conference in February.

Building Standards Help Lincoln, NE Go Green

On July 12, Lincoln Nebraska Mayor Chris Beutler released a draft environmental plan highlighting opportunities for the city and residents to meet their sustainability goals. Building on the city’s 2009 Cleaner Greener Lincoln Initiative, this new action plan outlines the city’s progress in five categories—Energy, Land Use, Transportation, Waste and Water – and recommends strategies to make Lincoln a leader in environmental stewardship.

Setting the PACE in the Midwest

Property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing is off and running in the Midwest. PACE enables homeowners and commercial building owners to finance energy efficiency improvements through a special assessment on their property that is paid back through their tax bill. To date, there are 15 active PACE programs in the MEEA footprint. PACE-enabling legislation exists in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio and Nebraska, and legislation in Illinois has passed both state legislative houses and is awaiting the governor’s signature.

NextGrid: The Utility of the Future Starts Now

On March 22, 2017, the Illinois Commerce Commission passed a resolution initiating the NextGrid Utility of the Future Study. NextGrid will be an 18-month collaborative process to explore the ways in which alternative utility regulatory models, advances in technology, and consumer preferences and engagement can shape the grid of the future. This initiative will build upon the 2011 Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act, the Illinois Statewide Smart Grid Collaborative and the recent Future Energy Jobs Act.

Valuing Energy Efficiency Workshop Recap

"Using energy efficiency as an energy resource" similar to supply-side resources is a phrase often repeated by those working in the efficiency industry. That sounds good, but how exactly do we capture the value of energy efficiency? And what policy and regulatory practices are used to do this? Three regulatory constructs are at the forefront of the answer to these questions: cost-effectiveness tests, integrated resource planning (IRP) and technical reference manuals (TRMs). As with many great meetings of the minds, MEEA members congregated in Rosemont, Illinois on June 15 to explore these questions and topics in a workshop titled “Valuing Energy Efficiency.”

2017 Annual Meeting of the Membership Recap

On June 16, MEEA hosted its annual Meeting of the Membership in Rosemont, Illinois just a few miles outside of Chicago. This event was another opportunity for MEEA's members, board and staff to come together to see old friends, make new connections and discuss what’s new in the field of energy efficiency. New board members were elected, and the latest Annual Report was unveiled. It was also a great venue for MEEA to get feedback on what we can do to add value to and improve the member experience.

Industrial Opt-Out Will Cost Ohio Billions in Missed Benefits

On June 6, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released a new report on the increased health and economic costs that would result from an expanded industrial opt-out policy in the state. ACEEE found that expanded opt-out would cost Ohio residents billions of dollars due to higher electricity rates, increased utility system costs and medical expenses from increased air pollution. 

Michigan’s IRP Assessment Kicks Off this Week

The MPSC’s IRP Authority

One big story coming out of the Michigan energy package enacted this past December is the significant authority given to the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) on a number of critically important facets of energy policy analysis, administration and implementation.

Iowa Releases State Energy Plan

On December 21, Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, along with  the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the Iowa Department of Transportation and the Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress released the Iowa Energy Plan. The plan will serve as a guide for the development of an affordable, reliable and sustainable energy system within the state that maximizes Iowa’s economic potential.