The MEEA Policy Insider summarizes the latest state policy activity and provides new resources to aid members in their outreach, education and advocacy initiatives.
In this issue:
- COVID-19 Update
- State Updates: IL / IN / IA / KS / MI / MN / MO / NE / OH / WI
- Federal Update
- New Resources & Blog Posts
States and cities are in various stages of resuming economic activity and reopening businesses. There are ongoing cases in public service commissions to address or understand utility service impacts and most investor-owned utilities have implemented moratoria on shut-offs. The efficiency workforce has not fully recovered from the economic slowdown and social distancing in late spring of 2020 that carried into the summer. However, most utility programs and state weatherization programs have resumed, some with alterations including virtual elements or limited direct customer interaction.
MEEA is tracking impacts, program responses and recovery from COVID-19 and sharing resources as the situation evolves. For consolidated information, see MEEA’s COVID-19 resources page. Members who are able to share information about utility program and energy service impacts or have any resource needs, please contact Policy Director Nick Dreher.
On August 21, Governor Pritzker’s office announced Eight Principles for a Clean and Renewable Economy. The eighth principle is “Enhance Energy Efficiency in Illinois” and lays out numerous policy proposals the Governor would like to pursue. The Governor’s office held working groups focusing on the power sector, transportation, equity and commercial/industrial/buildings-related energy efficiency issues in October. MEEA attended all three commercial/industrial/buildings EE working group meetings (October 13, 20 and 22), which focused on principle number eight. There has been no formal announcement regarding the results of the working groups’ efforts. On March 15, MEEA attended a working group meeting convened by the Governor’s office to discuss the large customer EE exemption in Illinois.
On April 28, 2021, Governor Pritzker announced his Consumers and Climate First Energy Plan (SB 2896 / HB 4074). This plan will be introduced as a bill that addresses numerous aspects of Illinois' energy framework including a clean energy standard, new savings target structure for natural gas energy efficiency and opt-out for large private energy customers (replacing the existing customer exemption). The proposal also includes a stretch code for the state's building energy code.
The major piece of clean energy legislation, the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA), previously introduced as SB 2132 / HB 3624, was re-introduced on February 9th as HB 804. It has been amended extensively since its first introduction, including new or expanded electrification, workforce development and utility accountability provisions. Topic-specific excerpts of CEJA are available on the pro-CEJA Illinois Clean Job Coalition website. CEJA (HB 804) passed out of committee on March 15th and will now move to the full Illinois House of Representatives for debate and a vote on the floor.
HB 2640, known as the Path to 100 Act, also passed out of committee on March 15th in the House. If passed, it would increase the cap on energy bills from about 2 to 4 percent to fund renewable energy projects. HB 1734 was introduced on March 9th and heard on March 22nd. It would, among other things, alter the definition of energy efficiency, allow certain public utilities to recover natural gas delivery services costs through a performance-based rate and authorize utilities to plan for, construct and operate electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
The labor group Climate Jobs Illinois is promoting a bill called the Climate Union Jobs Act (CUJA) or (HB 1472 / SB 1100) that would get Illinois to 100% clean energy by 2050. In terms of major differences to CEJA, CUJA would preserve the state’s nuclear fleet; emphasize utility-scale solar, rather than distributed generation; use union jobs administered through the Illinois Works Jobs Program, rather than equity-focused workforce development hubs around the state; and finance a Just Transition Fund through ratepayer contributions rather than the pollution fee policy under CEJA.
How to Get Involved
Due to COVID-19, all Illinois EE Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) large group and working group meetings will be held via teleconference until further notice. SAG meeting information, COVID-19 updates and documents can be found on the SAG website.
HB 1191 prohibits local units of government from banning specific energy sources, restricting natural gas end-use, requiring or prohibiting construction materials on the basis of energy conservation or production standards and restricting the purchase of vehicles on the basis of energy source. The bill passed the House and Senate following Conference Committee and is expected to be signed by the Governor.
Integrated resource planning is ongoing for Indiana utilities.
- Duke Energy Indiana has begun its 2021 IRP stakeholder process.
- The third IRP workshop has not been scheduled yet.
- Indiana Michigan Power is engaged in its 2021 IRP process.
- The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for July 14, 2021 and registration is not yet available.
- NIPSCO has begun its 2021 IRP process.
The utility filing deadline for 2021 IRPs are as follows:
- NIPSCO: November 1, 2021
- Wabash Valley: November 1, 2021
- Duke Energy Indiana: November 1, 2021
- Indiana Michigan Power: December 15, 2021
Utility stakeholder meetings will continue during the planning period. Updates from the commission on IRPs in Indiana will be posted to the IURC’s IRP page.
How to Get Involved
IRP meetings are all open to the public. Anyone interested is encouraged to attend. They are typically announced through utility mailing lists. For help finding the utility mailing list sign-up and IRP meeting registration, or for other questions about Indiana, contact
On April 12, Governor Reynolds signed into law HF 555, a bill that prohibits counties and cities from regulating the sale of natural gas or propane.
Representative Isenhart introduced HF 305, HF 351, HF 695, HF 669 and HF 355. The former four were referred to the House Commerce Committee while the latter was referred to the Local Government Committee. The bills have not received hearings.
- HF 305 would require utilities with energy efficiency plans approved by the Iowa Utilities Board to carry over unspent budgets from the previous program year to the following program year.
- HF 351 would add encouragement of energy efficiency investments in public school facilities as a purpose of the Iowa Energy Center’s alternative energy revolving loan fund.
- HF 669 requires the Iowa Energy Center to conduct outreach and provide education to utility customers regarding energy efficiency and financing opportunities. The bill also requires the Office of the Consumer Advocate to develop a standard energy cost disclosure statement for landlords.
- HF 695 requires rate-regulated gas and electric utilities with energy efficiency plans filed to or approved by the Iowa Utilities Board to hold public meetings with community action agencies within their service territories to coordinate prior to energy efficiency plan filing and during implementation.
- HF 355 would allow counties or cities to create energy investment districts to finance energy investments—including energy efficiency measures—for private properties, excluding residential property with fewer than 3 units.
How to Get Involved
If you have any questions about Iowa or want to get more involved, contact Samarth Medakkar.
On April 4, the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) convened a work study to hear and discuss the findings from research on residential customers’ understanding and attitudes towards energy efficiency and utility-sponsored programs. KCC Staff issued their conclusions and recommendations, which include a stakeholder process to determine an approach to residential customer education and a focus on energy efficiency for the low-income sector. The recording of the work study can be found here.
On April 9, SB 24, the Kansas Energy Choice Act, became law. The bill prohibits a municipality from enacting any local policies that would prevent a customer from using natural gas or propane end uses.
HB 2381, a bill that would establish a state energy plan task force and require the development of a plan, did not receive a vote and died in committee following its hearing. The bill can still be considered next year.
On February 10, HB 2320 was introduced and referred to the House Committee on Financial Institutions and Rural Development. The bill would enact a Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) act. The bill has not received a hearing.
On January 26, SB 81 (HB 2181) was introduced and referred to the Committee on Utilities in the House and Senate. The bill requires the KCC to provide an annual report on the electric rates of KS public utilities by sector, and those of utilities in surrounding states. The stated purpose is to inform electric policy that would lead to competitive rates. The bill received a hearing in the House Utilities Committee on February 9 and in the Senate Utilities Committee on February 11.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Kansas or to get more involved, contact Samarth Medakkar.
On September 23, Governor Whitmer announced a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 through an executive order and an executive directive. Through the order, Michigan will work towards carbon neutrality by reducing emissions from public buildings, emphasizing carbon neutrality in utility IRPs and adding renewable energy in state facilities and lands.
The executive order created the Council on Climate Solutions. The Council has created five workgroups: Buildings and Housing; Energy Intensive Industries; Energy Production; Transmission; Distribution and Storage; Natural Working Lands and Forest Products; and Transportation and Mobility. These workgroups will help the Council identify and recommend strategies to reduce the state’s emissions and help communities most impacted by climate change. More information on the Council and the workgroups can be found here.
On February 18, the Michigan PSC directed commission staff to convene the Energy Affordability and Accessibility Collaborative in coordination with the Energy Waste Reduction and Low-Income Workgroup. This collaborative will focus on the commission’s ongoing COVID-19 response, affordable payment plans, affordable energy bills and more. The collaborative’s first meeting was held on April 8. More information on the collaborative’s scope and future meeting times can be found here.
MI Power Grid workgroups continue to meet. The Integration of Resource, Distribution and Transmission Planning workgroup has released its draft report. Comments on this draft are due by May 4th. The Upper Peninsula Energy Task Force submitted its second of two reports to Governor Whitmer. This report, Committee Recommendations: Part II—Energy Supply, provides details on the region’s unique energy considerations and makes 16 recommendations to improve affordability and reliability, including expanding energy waste reduction opportunities, improving the accessibility of energy efficiency financing and allowing for EWR programs to be accessed by propane users. Additionally, the MPSC has begun work on its energy waste reduction and demand response potential study. Guidehouse is contracted to run the study, which will examine the period of 2021-2040. The MPSC and Guidehouse will hold a series of stakeholder meetings before the research begins. The most recent meeting was on February 4.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Michigan or to get more involved, contact Maddie Wazowicz.
Both the Senate Energy and Utilities and the House Climate and Energy committees released their committee omnibus bills in early April. Both omnibus bills (Senate: SF 2075; House: HF 2110) passed through their committees without many changes. The bills do include different provisions which will likely have to be settled in conference committee after the bills pass their respective chambers.
The Energy Conservation and Optimization Act (HF 164/SF 227) passed the House on April 12. ECO would expand and modernize the state’s Conservation Improvement Program by increasing utilities’ energy savings goals, allowing beneficial electrification and expanding low-income energy efficiency, among other things. The bill is in the general register waiting to be called for a floor vote in the Senate.
The Clean Energy First Act (HF 10) still does not have a floor vote scheduled, despite passing in the House Climate and Energy committee on March 18. CEFA would require utilities to prioritize clean energy resources, including energy efficiency and load management, before asking the PUC to approve fossil fuel generation.
There are several other energy-related bills. HF 70/SF 543 would create a $15 million revolving loan fund for state facilities to pay for energy efficiency improvements. HF 751 would allow the state’s utilities to submit a report to the PUC demonstrating their efforts and progress on building electrification. Additionally, HF 831 would require the state to adopt a more efficient commercial energy building code and continue to update that code until all new commercial buildings are required to be net zero by 2036. Additional proposals would allow the state’s utilities to spend money on natural gas innovations, require the state to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, require utilities to submit annual reports on their workforce and supplier diversity, create a goal for emissions reduction in the state’s existing buildings and establish the Minnesota Innovation Finance Authority to fund clean energy and conservation improvement projects.
Many efficiency-related measures are in the committee omnibus bills, but it remains to be seen what provisions will get both Senate and House approval in conference committee.
Commissioner John Tuma was reappointed by Governor Walz for another six-year term beginning on March 25 and ending in January 2027.
MEEA participated in the Department of Commerce’s Electrification Action Plan Technical Advisory Committee. The DOE-funded project aims to study electrification’s opportunities and challenges. Additionally, the project looks to understand the various policy considerations and equity implications of an electrified Minnesota. The TAC presented its findings to stakeholders on February 4. More information on the project can be found here.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Minnesota or to get more involved, contact Maddie Wazowicz.
Governor Parson appointed former representative Glen Kolkmeyer (R) to the Public Service Commission. Kolkmeyer would replace outgoing Commissioner Kenney, though the appointment awaits Senate confirmation. Kolkmeyer is the former President of the MO Propane Gas Association, a member of the Propane Safety Commission and is CEO of Energy Transport Solutions, Inc, a fuel transport service.
The MPSC held a virtual evidentiary hearing April 21-22 for case EO-2020-0227, a prudence review of costs from Evergy’s Missouri Energy Efficiency Investment Act Cycle 2 programs. Initial post-hearing briefs will be due May 24.
On April 14, the Commission approved an agreement between the Office of Public Counsel and Ameren MO that redirects $3.5 million earmarked for the weatherization assistance program to the low-income energy assistance program (LIHEAP) including Ameren’s Clean Slate program, and to fund a low-income energy efficiency program to be launched in 2021.
Several bills related to Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) are being considered in the legislature. HB 697 received a public hearing on April 13, and subsequently, a Senate Committee Substitute passed Executive Session. The bill is on third reading in the Senate. SB 105, a bill similar to HB 697, is on the Senate calendar for perfection.
- HB 697 was introduced by Representative DeGroot on January 6. The bill adds requirements for submittal and approval of PACE assessment contracts including through expanded regulatory authority of the Division of Finance, and codifies formal consumer protections.
- SB 105 was introduced by Senator Crawford. This bill contains similar provisions as HB 697.
- HB 814 was introduced by Representative O’Donnell on January 13. The bill limits PACE projects to properties whose sum of liens and mortgages (including PACE) does not exceed 80% of the appraised value of the home.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources initiated a State Energy Planning (MoSEP) process with a Virtual Energy Stakeholder Kickoff Workshop on October 29. The ongoing process will include a series of regionally-focused initiatives and workshops targeting regional energy opportunities and issues. Stakeholders were identified by MoDNR and the Department of Economic Development’s Regional Engagement Teams. See the plan page to join MoDNR’s mailing list or to submit inquiries.
How to Get Involved
The city of Lincoln recently released its Climate Action Plan. The city hopes to improve its resiliency and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. The report concludes that increasing energy efficiency of its residential and commercial buildings and its municipal utility, the Lincoln Electric System, will be the most important factor in reducing city emissions. In addition to dramatically ramping up energy efficiency through incentives, programs and municipal action, the report mentions benchmarking, electrification, energy disclosures and building energy code updates as possible near-term solutions.
The Nebraska Unicameral began its new legislative biennium on January 6, 2021. A few introduced bills touch on energy. LB 306, introduced by Sen. Brandt, would expand eligibility requirements for LIHEAP and dedicate 10% of LIHEAP funds to weatherization. Additionally, Sen. McCollister introduced a bill (LB 266) that would require the state’s public utilities to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 through renewable energy and demand-side management. The legislature held a hearing on LB 483, which would direct the University of Nebraska to develop a plan for the state to mitigate the coming effects of climate change.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Nebraska or to get more involved, contact Maddie Wazowicz.
There have been various HB 6-related bills introduced in the House and Senate during this legislative session, including: HB 18, HB 57, HB 58, HB 10, HB 128, SB 44 and SB 10. For reference, HB 6 was the 2019 law that directed funding extending coal and nuclear plant viability and repealed the energy efficiency and renewable energy resource standards.
Most recently, HB 128, a partial HB 6 repeal bill that would eliminate the nuclear bailout but restore solar funding, successfully passed out of both the House and Senate; differences were concurred on March 25th and Gov. De Wine signed the final version of the bill into law on March 31st. For more information on HB 128, please see the following blog.
There is also a new HB 6 COVID relief bill that would allow “leftover” funding from the terminated electric utility efficiency programs to be used for low-income efficiency solely for 2021. The bill has been referred to the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee.
There have been some noteworthy legislative developments related to electric vehicles in Ohio. SB 32 (Rulli) and HB 47 (Loychik) would establish a rebate program for EV chargers run by ODOT, funded with $10 million each in FY 2022 and 2023. The Senate bill has been referred to the Senate Transportation Committee.
There are also several bills that preempt local government authority on energy in Ohio, including HB 192 and HB 201/SB 127. HB 192 stops local government from being able to pursue clean energy aggregation. HB 201 / SB 127 would potentially prevent cities from denying natural gas hook-ups. Proponent testimony on HB 192 and HB 201 was heard on March 24th.
In the last legislative session, there were opportunities for proponents, opponents and interested parties of the proposed bipartisan repeal and revive bill of HB 6—SB 346—to testify, in addition to the alternative partial repeal bill, HB 772. MEEA submitted testimony to the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee on November 30th in advance of a Dec. 1st hearing on HB 346. All testimony can be accessed here.
On November 20, Public Utility of Ohio (PUCO) Chairman Sam Randazzo resigned effective immediately. After two lists of candidates from the nominating council, Governor DeWine chose Jenifer French, a former county judge, to be the next PUCO Chair. Governor DeWine noted that she “has no background in the industry, which I think in this unique point in time, is a real asset.”
Recently, PUCO approved a FirstEnergy request to set the decoupling rider to zero per the FirstEnergy settlement with AG Yost (21-0101-EL-ATA). For context, Ohio AG Yost has filed lawsuits, alongside Cincinnati and Cleveland, to block FirstEnergy from receiving the profit rider and bailout included in HB 6. The PUCO decision to eliminate the rider is a result of the settlement with AG Yost. On February 8th, there was a virtual public hearing regarding AEP’s application to increase its rates (20-0585-EL-AIR). Settlement discussions are ongoing.
How to Get Involved
The Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy is currently working on developing a clean energy plan that will help Wisconsin adapt to future changes in the climate as mandated by Governor Evers’ August executive order. Additionally, this plan will outline ways for the state to achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. MEEA is participating on the plan’s advisory council.
AB27/SB47, which would require the state’s IOUs to fund a consumer advocate, was passed by both chambers and signed into law. Unlike many other Midwestern states, Wisconsin does not have a government agency dedicated to consumer protection in utility matters. This law will direct $900,000 of ratepayer dollars annually to the state’s Citizens Utility Board, enabling it to expand its staff and better represent the state’s customers in utility cases.
The Wisconsin PSC has issued a Notice of Investigation in Docket 5-EI-158 to consider the commission’s role in the state’s transition to zero-carbon electricity generation. There have been several planning processes that have considered this transition in the state, like the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change, the WEDTI Report and the state’s Clean Energy Plan formation. Many of the recommendations in these reports depend on legislative action. The PSC has submitted this request for comments to determine what areas of this transition the commission should focus on. Comments are due by May 14. Commenters can highlight ideas in the mentioned state reports but can also focus on ideas omitted from these plans. More information can be found in the PSC notice.
How to Get Involved
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is requesting additional comments on the implications of retaining the expanded minimum offer price rule (MOPR) and potential alternatives. Initial comments were due April 26 while replies will be due May 10.
On March 11, Democrat lawmakers of the House Energy and Commerce Committee introduced the Leading Infrastructure for Tomorrow’s America Act, the LIFT America Act (HR 1848). The infrastructure bill would invest $69.9 billion in clean energy and energy efficiency for public and critical facilities, homes, schools and through conservation block grants. The bill received hearing time on March 22.
On March 2, House Chairs in energy and environment-related committees and subcommittees introduced the Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s Future Act, the CLEAN Future Act (HR 1512). The legislation aims to achieve net-zero GHG emissions across the economy no later than 2050. The bill received hearings on industrial decarbonization elements and on system resilience. In the latter hearing, Chairman Pallone (D-NJ) emphasized the importance of energy efficiency for job creation, reduced energy demand and system reliability.
Democrat Lawmakers reintroduced the Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator Act that would establish a National Climate Bank and fund $100 billion towards financing clean energy infrastructure investments, including energy efficiency.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Federal issues or to get more involved, contact Nick Dreher.
- A Missed Opportunity: How Ohio’s HB 6 Partial Repeal Bill Neglects Energy Efficiency
- Climate Change and the Texas/ERCOT Energy Crisis
- Partnering with Missouri Communities: Roadmap to Resilience
- Is It Over Yet? Energy Efficiency Implications Following a November 2020 Election Season