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:
- The commission’s role in the installation of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and topics such as privacy concerns, AMI opt-out provisions, AMI opt-out charges, and other states’ practices;
- Rate design structures, particularly residential time of use rates and inclining block rates, and the effect of various rate designs on energy efficiency and renewable energy;
- The commission’s role in developing Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) and Pay as You Save (PAYS) programs;
- The commission’s role in regulating solar energy; and
- The commission’s role promoting a competitive market for plug-in electrical vehicles.
The first three topics have clear implications for the energy efficiency industry. Interested parties submitted written comments and participated in a workshop on May 18. On July 10, the PSC issued a staff report summarizing the comments and testimony received along with recommended next steps on each topic.
To date, KCP&L has deployed AMI to more than 90% of its service territory and will continue to roll out AMI. Ameren Missouri is still crafting its position. Staff suggested that the Commission might review the customer notice requirements relevant to AMI as the technology allows for remote disconnects. No additional workshops on this topic are needed at this time.
PACE and PAYS
Stakeholders largely felt that the commission should not be involved in the administration or oversight of PACE programs. Ameren Missouri already has an approved on-bill financing pilot and is conducting a feasibility analysis of the PAYS model. KCP&L is considering how they might collaborate with Ameren Missouri on a PAYS feasibility study, but did not comment on the role that the commission should play in shaping the availability of PACE or PAYS financing programs. Given this feedback and progress of exploration into these financing mechanisms, the staff determined that it is not necessary to hold additional workshops on this topic.
Lastly, staff recommended that the complex topic of rate design be addressed through additional workshops. More time is needed to explore the bill impacts of time of use and inclining block rate designs on low-income households and households with significant electric use associated with medical equipment. The impact of these rate structures on at-home electric vehicle charging and commercial facilitation of electric vehicle charging also merits additional consideration. More time is needed to identify other customer segments that may be particularly sensitive to these rate design structures and the associated impacts. Customer bill impacts of various rate structures should be studied on a monthly, seasonal, and annual basis. The Staff also recommended that the Commission should investigate the revenue impact to utilities under various rate structures.
Next in the Series
MEEA will continue to track the emerging issues and Utility of the Future efforts in Missouri and Illinois. For more information on either of these efforts, contact Julia Friedman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be on the lookout for the final post in MEEA’s summer blog series on efforts around the Midwest to envision new models and innovations for meeting the needs of electric customers around the region. The blog will feature Ohio’s PowerForward effort.