MEEA Policy Insider - May 2019

The MEEA Policy Insider summarizes the latest state policy activity and provides new resources to aid members in their own outreach, education and advocacy initiatives.

Ready to get involved? There are advocacy opportunities in Illinois and Ohio.

In this issue:

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Regulatory

On March 29, Governor Pritzker announced the appointment of Carrie Zalewski to the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC). On April 15, Ms. Zalewski was elevated to Chairman of the ICC by the governor. Former Chairman Brien Sheahan will continue serving his five-year term as commissioner, which expires in 2020. Prior to the appointment, Chairman Zalewski served on the Illinois Pollution Control Board since 2009.

Governor Pritzker also appointed Maria S. Bocanegra to the ICC effective April 8. Acting Commissioner Bocanegra recently served as Arbitrator at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and has served on the Labor Advisory Board for the Illinois Department of Labor.

Both appointments require state senate confirmation.

Legislative

The Illinois legislature is considering several pieces of legislation that would impact energy efficiency and the energy sector. April 12 was the procedural “third reading” deadline for legislation to have a full House floor vote and advance to the Senate. Under general procedures, a bill that fails to receive a Third Reading vote by April 12 is considered “dead” in the House.

The status of legislation is listed below:

  • HB 3624 (Rep. Ann Williams): Clean Energy Jobs Act - a comprehensive clean energy and environmental bill. The bill was amended on February 28 to add the full text of legislation. The bill makes several changes including:
    • Expanding gas utility energy efficiency requirements
    • Repealing the industrial exemption
    • Increasing spending on income-qualified programs
      • The bill passed out of the Energy and Environment Committee, but was held on Second Reading and did not receive a House floor vote.

  • H.B. 3658 (Rep. Robyn Gabel): directs the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to create minimum state energy and water efficiency standards for a variety of appliances. This bill includes a provision requiring strong appliance standards in the event of a federal repeal or modification of national standards. The bill passed out of the Energy and Environment Committee but was held on Second Reading and did not receive a House floor vote.

  • HB 2855 (Rep. Robyn Gabel): requires the Illinois Commerce Commission to develop a plan for increasing electric vehicle adoption in the state through beneficial electrification programs, such as time-of-use rates and demand response. The bill passed out of the Public Utilities Committee but was held on Second Reading and did not receive a House floor vote.
  • HB 2899 (Rep. Sam Yingling): changes the Alternate Fuels Act to make electricity the only acceptable fuel source for vehicle charging station grants and vehicle rebates (current law allows “alternate fuel”). The bill remains in the Public Utilities Subcommittee on Renewable Initiatives, where it did not receive a vote.
  • HB 2801 (Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch): requires an inter-agency report that studies how to “decarbonize Illinois’ electric sector in a just and equitable way.” The following agencies would contribute to the report: Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Illinois Commerce Commission, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Illinois Power Agency. The bill remains in the Public Utilities Subcommittee on Renewable Initiatives, where it did not receive a vote.
  • HB 2926 (Justin Slaughter): requires the ICC, through an independent third-party contractor, to analyze the potential costs and benefits of energy storage systems. The bill remains in the Public Utilities Subcommittee on Renewable Initiatives, where it did not receive a vote.

  • HB 2956 (Rep. William Davis): removes the industrial customer exemption originally passed as part of the Future Energy Jobs Act (2016). The bill remains in the Public Utilities Subcommittee on Renewable Initiatives, where it did not receive a vote.

How to Get Involved

The Illinois General Assembly’s session ends May 31, returning in the fall for veto session, when legislation can continue to advance.

For more information about Illinois or to get more involved, contact Nick Hromalik.

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Regulatory

Integrated resource planning is ongoing for Indiana utilities:

  • Duke Energy has been granted a filing extension to May 1, 2019.
  • Indiana Michigan Power has been granted a filing extension to June 15, 2019.
  • Indianapolis Power & Light has scheduled their 4th stakeholder meeting for Thursday, May 23 in Muncie, IN.

Utility stakeholder meetings and registration information will continue during the planning period and will be posted on the utility IRP pages linked above. Updates from the commission on IRPs in Indiana will be posted to the IURC’s IRP page.

The IURC held its 2019 IRP Contemporary Issues Conference on April 15, 2019, and archival presentations are available at the IURC page.

How to Get Involved

Utility IRP meetings are open to anyone interested in attending.

 If you have any questions about Indiana or want to get more involved, contact Greg Ehrendreich.

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Legislative

Standing appropriations bill SF 638 includes provisions that would expand SF 2311’s rollback of the energy efficiency standard by prohibiting the approval of energy efficiency and demand response plans that exceed spending of 1.5% and 2.0% of expected annual retail rate revenue for gas and electric utilities, respectively. The bill has passed the House and Senate and has been sent to Governor Reynolds.

SF 549 (formerly SF 351) introduced by Senators Schneider and Nunn requires owners of rental properties with more than 12 units to disclose average annual utility service costs to a prospective tenant. The bill failed in subcommittee.

How to Get Involved

Iowa Utilities Board hearings are open to the public. If you have questions about Iowa or want to get more involved, contact Samarth Medakkar.  

Regulatory

Ongoing energy efficiency-related Michigan Public Service Commission (MSPC) dockets to be aware of:

On February 27, the MPSC opened case U-20464 to issue a report on the state’s energy supply, engineering and deliverability of natural gas, electricity and propane, and contingency planning as requested by Governor Whitmer in response to forced generation outages from extremely low temperatures that occurred during the January 2019 polar vortex.

On March 5, MPSC staff issued its process outline for the Statewide Energy Assessment, which contained the following process timeline:

  • Timeline for Assessment Draft:
    • March 5: Final report outline posted
    • March: Begin research, prepare stakeholder inquiries & schedule meetings with stakeholders
    • April:  Workgroups meet with stakeholders 
    • May 10-30: Workgroup chairs write their sections
    • June 1: Draft report compiled and turned over for final editing 
    • July 1: Draft report due with subsequent
    • TBD public comment period.
    • Sept 13: Final report due

 

On March 29, DTE Energy filed its integrated resource plan, which will now be evaluated by the MPSC and intervening parties.

How to Get Involved

For more information about Michigan or to get more involved, contact Nick Dreher.

Regulatory 

On April 11, Deputy Commissioner Joseph Sullivan approved extension of the 2017-2019 CIP triennial plans for Xcel Energy, Otter Tail Power, Minnesota Power, Greater Minnesota Gas, CenterPoint Energy, Minnesota Energy Resources Corp. and Great Plains Natural Gas for program year 2020. The utilities will file their 2020 extension plans by July 1, 2019. The next triennial plans will be filed for 2021-2023.

The comment period for the cost-effectiveness inputs review dockets for natural gas triennial CIP plans (CIP-18-782) and electric CIP plans (CIP-18-783) has completed, and utility reply comments are expected by May 6 with final decision on May 20, 2019.  

Legislative

On March 4, HF 1956 (the Clean Energy First Act) was introduced. This bill also includes Governor Walz’s proposal to move Minnesota’s electric supply to 100% carbon-free by 2050. This bill was consolidated into a larger jobs and energy package HB 2208 and passed out of the House on April 24. The related Senate bill SF 2611 has some differences that, if passed, will need to be worked out with the House bill in conference.

On February 14, HF 1191 was introduced, which directs the Public Utilities Commission to develop and approve a public utilities energy conservation financial incentive to encourage public utility investment in cost-effective energy conservation measures.

On February 18, HF 1360 was introduced, which would modify the commercial property assessed clean energy (PACE) project eligibility and financing structure.

On February 25, HF 1683 was introduced. This bill would establish a framework for utility customer data access, including utility access, customer access, third party access and aggregated public access.

On February 28, SF 1915 was introduced, broadening the list of allowable activities to meet the conservation improvement goals, establishing a new cooperative utility energy savings provision and repealing the municipal utility energy savings requirements.

Governor Tim Walz, House Speaker Melissa Hortman and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka have agreed to appoint conference committees by May 1 on major fiscal bills, and that conference committee chairs shall provide completed conference committee reports to the house of origin by May 13.

MEEA Activity

On April 18, Senior Policy Manager Nick Dreher and Policy Manager Nick Hromalik met with staff members at the governor’s office, House Majority, Senate Majority and the Department of Commerce to educate them on the value of energy efficiency in Minnesota.

How to Get Involved

For more information about Minnesota or to get more involved, contact Nick Dreher

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Executive

Governor Parson issued an executive order that will shift the Division of Energy to the Department of Natural Resources. The Public Service Commission and the Office of Public Counsel will be moved to the Department of Commerce and Insurance, which was formerly known as the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration.

Regulatory

The procedural schedule for Kansas City Power & Light’s (KCP&L) Missouri Energy Efficiency Investment Act (MEEIA) cycle 3 plan has been suspended. KCP&L’s cycle 2 will be extended for nine months with a new end date of December 31, 2019. Negotiations for cycle 3 are continuing.  

Legislative

HB 215 along with companion bill SB 173 modifies provisions relating to Missouri’s Property Assessment Clean Energy (PACE) financing program. The bill shifts oversight of the PACE program from local PACE boards to the Missouri Division of Finance within the Department of Commerce and Insurance. The bill also requires a program administrator (selected by the local PACE board) to obtain and maintain a license annually and limit eligibility for PACE financing. The bill would be effective August 28, 2019. HB 215 passed out of the House Legislative Oversight Committee and SB 173 passed out of the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee. The latter is expected on the Senate floor within the next week.

SB 131 requires state energy plans developed by the Division of Energy to be reviewed by the division by January 1, 2021, and biennially thereafter, and updated if necessary. House Committee Substitute SB 131 has passed out of the House Committee on Utilities and is scheduled for a hearing in the House Rules - Legislative Oversight Committee.

How to Get Involved

Last day of legislative session is May 17.

For more information about Missouri or to get more involved, contact Samarth Medakkar

Legislative

On May 2, the Nebraska legislature passed a bill to update the statewide energy code from the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) to the unamended 2018 IECC for residential and commercial buildings. The governor has until Wednesday to sign, veto or take no action on the bill. If he takes no action by Wednesday, the bill will become law. This bill would make Nebraska’s the strongest statewide energy code in the region.  

At the request of Governor Ricketts, Senator Dan Hughes introduced a bill to merge the Energy Office and the Department of Environmental Quality into the new Department of Environment and Energy. The bill transfers all statutory powers, responsibilities, employees and assets of the State Energy Office to the Department of Environment and Energy. The legislature voted unanimously in support of the bill, and the merger is effective July 1.

How to Get Involved

If you have questions about Iowa or want to get more involved, contact Samarth Medakkar 

Legislative

The Ohio House of Representatives created a new Subcommittee on Energy Generation under the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. This new subcommittee is co-chaired by Republican Rep. Dick Stein and Democrat Rep. Michael O’Brien.

The Ohio Senate combined the Energy and Natural Resources Committee with the Public Utilities Committee. The new Energy and Public Utilities Committee is chaired by Senator Steve Wilson.

Regulatory

On April 12, Representatives Jamie Callender and Shane Wilkin introduced H.B. 6 to ostensibly create a “clean air program fund” to support nuclear power plants and other generation sources in the state. Unfortunately, the bill terminates the current energy efficiency resource standard (EERS) after 2020, as currently written in the substitute version of the bill. The House Subcommittee on Energy Generation has held several hearings on the bill. On April 23 MEEA testified before the subcommittee about the many benefits  the EERS has provided for Ohio residents and businesses. On May 2, the Subcommittee voted 5 to 3 to move a substitute version of the bill to the full Natural Resources and Energy Committee. Timing on committee and House floor votes is unclear, however the Speaker of the House has indicated he wishes to move H.B. 6 quickly.

The legislature is tentatively in session through July 18.

Regulatory

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) granted an extension for energy efficiency plan filings for Duke Energy and FirstEnergy. The utilities now have until September 1. 

On April 10, the PUCO issued an order finalizing a decision they made at the end of 2018 concerning energy efficiency programs and renewable portfolio standard compliance in the state. This new order is in response to requests for rehearing that was granted in January. The 2019 order remains largely the same concerning the pre-approval process for energy efficiency programs. The order eliminates pre-approval and instead creates a post-program annual audit, with the PUCO expecting utilities and interested parties to work toward resolving issues prior to program implementation during the collaborative process. These changes could impact stakeholder engagement and certainty around cost-recovery. Interested parties wishing to file a motion for rehearing on the order have until May 10 to file.

On April 1, AEP Ohio, First Energy, Dayton Power & Light and Duke Energy submitted grid modernization plans to the PUCO as part of the ongoing PowerForward  process. The Distribution System Planning Working Group and Data and Modern Grid Working Group continue to meet. Agendas, presentations and information about future meetings can be found here.

How to Get Involved

For more information about Ohio or to get more involved, contact Nick Hromalik.

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Regulatory

Ellen Nowak, Commissioner of the Public Service Commission (PSC), has been reinstated by the State Supreme Court, with a final decision on her appointment pending oral arguments before the court on May 15. Commissioner Nowak was originally appointed by Gov. Scott Walker during a December 2018 lame duck legislative session. However, a lower court ruled the session unlawful, including Governor Walker’s appointments. In March, an appeals court ruling reinstated some of the laws blocked by a lower court, and Governor Evers reappointed most of the 82 appointees. Commissioner  Nowak was among 15 individuals that was not reappointed by Governor Evers.

Executive

On February 28, Governor Evers released the two-year Wisconsin budget proposal. The proposal has several recommendations relating to energy, including:

  • Creating the Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy within the Department of Administration to advance clean energy initiatives

  • Creating a statutory goal that all electricity produced in the state should be 100% carbon free by 2050

  • Modifying current law to allow the Public Service Commission to increase the funds available to Focus on Energy beyond 1.2% of each utility’s annual operating revenues

  • Modifying the business development tax credit to provide an additional 5% incentive for capital investments related to energy efficiency or renewable energy projects
     

However, all of these have since been removed from the legislative version of the budget. See details below. 

Legislative

The biennial budget was recently introduced as legislation (SB 59/AB 56), codifying the governor’s budget proposal, including the provisions listed above. However, on May 1, the Joint Finance Committee announced that it had removed 70 “non-fiscal policy” items from the governor’s budget request, including the energy-related items listed above.

The final budget is not expected to be sent to the governor until August 1, 2019 or later. The legislature is in session through June 28 but will also have a fall session where the budget and other bills may be considered.

How to Get Involved

For more information about Wisconsin or to get more involved, contact Nick Hromalik.

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