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:
- Elections Update
- COVID-19 Update
- State Updates: IL / IN / IA / MI / MN / MO / NE / OH / WI
- Federal Update
- New Resources & Blog Posts
MEEA has tracked state and local election results throughout the Midwest region and will present an Elections Recap webinar on December 17 to highlight key developments. The three gubernatorial elections in MEEA’s territory (ND, MO and IN) all resulted in incumbent victories, meaning no change in partisan control or leadership occurred. There were also no flips in partisan control in state legislatures across the region. Nevertheless, legislative majorities did expand in several states. MEEA will also be tracking energy policy development at the federal level, since the President-elect has made several nominal commitments to revamping clean energy policy and promoting energy efficiency.
While some states have resumed economic activity, others are implementing new restrictions to confront the latest surge in infections, encouraging or requiring safety measures against the spread of COVID-19. Legislative sessions have either adjourned, are in special session or are convening on a limited basis. Some state public service commissions have opened cases to understand and address the financial impacts to customers and/or utilities. The efficiency workforce has not fully recovered from the economic slowdown and social distancing in late spring that carried into the summer. Impacted utility 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.
Webinar: Election Recap Webinar
Thursday, December 17 | 10 a.m – 11 a.m. CST
What do the election results mean for energy efficiency in the Midwest? Join MEEA’s Policy team for a recap of the election, including analysis on how federal and state elections will affect the region’s energy efficiency industry. Register here.
Webinar Recordings: Roadmap to Resilience Webinar Series
The Roadmap to Resilience is a toolkit with action steps developed by the MoDNR-DE to assist small cities and towns across the state in their resilience planning efforts. The series featured various experts and community leaders to share challenges, opportunities and strategies for effective planning and implementation of resilience. See the agendas, slides and recordings from the webinars here.
Webinar Recording: The NSPM for DERs
On October 29, MEEA held a webinar that reviewed the changes and additions to the National Standard Practice Manual for Benefit-Cost Analysis of Distributed Energy Resources (NSPM for DERs). The new NSPM updates the framework for examining benefit-cost analysis from the previous edition to cover a broad range of DERs including energy efficiency and demand response, to guide regulatory understanding and resource acquisition decisions.
The webinar featured co-authors of the NSPM as well as Midwest state representatives to share their perspective on the application of the resource. View the recording here.
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 throughout the month of 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.
Illinois’ legislative session adjourned on May 31. The legislature originally planned to reconvene for a fall special session, November 17-19 and December 1-3, where clean energy legislation was anticipated to be considered; however, the special session was cancelled. There is still a possibility that clean energy legislation could be discussed in the lame duck session that occurs before the new General Assembly convenes in January 2021, but it is uncertain. The Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA), previously introduced as SB 2132 / HB 3624 was amended extensively, 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.
At the end of the year, unpassed/unsigned legislation will be wiped clean and will need to be re-introduced when the next 2-year legislative session begins in 2021.
The Illinois Commerce Commission closed the comment submission period for Notice of Inquiry 20-NOI-01, which contained specific questions for utilities and interested parties to weigh in on energy assistance and energy efficiency programs as they relate to energy affordability. Reply comments were due October 30. MEEA’s response to the NOI can be found here.
How to Get Involved
Due to COVID-19, large group and working group meetings will be held via teleconference until further notice. Meeting information, COVID-19 updates and documents can be found on the SAG website.
The 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force submitted its final report. Despite the efforts of MEEA, other advocates and even members of the task force to encourage discussion of the topics, the report did not address energy efficiency or DERs, pushing them off for a proposed second task force to address.
Integrated resource planning is ongoing for Indiana utilities. The two publicly-owned utilities (Hoosier Energy & IMPA) have submitted their IRPs to the Commission, and those are available for review or comment at the IURC website. Wabash Valley requested and was approved for a one-year extension to Nov. 1, 2021 to file their IRP. Duke Energy Indiana has begun its IRP stakeholder process. More information can be found on their website.
The utility filing deadline for the next IRP is:
- NIPSCO: November 1, 2021
- Wabash Valley: November 1, 2021
- Duke Energy Indiana: November 1, 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. If you need help finding the list sign-up or registration, we can help you get on the list.
On November 30, Governor Reynolds appointed Josh Byrnes to the Iowa Utilities Board. Byrnes is the former general manager of the Osage Municipal Utilities, a former member of the Iowa House of Representatives (District 51) and has served on boards for the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, American Public Power DEED and T&D World.
On October 29, Alliant Energy announced their Clean Energy Blueprint, a plan for accelerating renewable energy technology adoption. The plan includes a focus on smart thermostats and leveraging their demand response potential.
How to Get Involved
If you have any questions about Iowa or want 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. In 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 MPSC is currently studying its role in executive order implementation.
The Michigan legislature has dates scheduled throughout December for a brief lame-duck session. The legislature will convene its next biennium on January 13, 2021. Bills that do not pass in the remaining legislative days (like the PACE bills) will need to be reintroduced in January.
Commissioner Sally Talberg has accepted a position at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, effective January 1. The Whitmer administration is currently exploring candidates to fill out the remainder of Talberg’s term.
MI Power Grid work groups continue to meet. Recently, the MPSC released a one-year status report on the MI Power Grid initiative, which summarizes the workgroup activity that has occurred since the initiative’s inception. The Grid Security & Reliability Standards Work Group submitted its draft report and is aiming to publish the final report this month. In the Demand Response Work Group, reply comments on the current demand response aggregation ban in Docket U-20346 were due December 15. Lastly, MI Power Grid announced the newly-formed New Technologies and Business Models Work Group.
Additionally, the MPSC has begun work on its energy waste reduction and demand response potential study. The MPSC contracted with Guidehouse 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 first meeting was on December 2, and slides for those presentations can be found here.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Michigan or to get more involved, contact Maddie Wazowicz.
The Minnesota legislature has dates scheduled throughout December for committee hearings. The legislature will begin its new session on January 5. House and Senate leadership announced that Rep. Long will chair the House Climate and Energy committee and Sen. Senjem will chair the Senate Energy committee. With the legislature beginning a new biennium, bills that did not pass last session (like the Clean Energy First Act and the Energy Conservation and Optimization Act) will have to be re-introduced.
The Department of Commerce issued decisions on the investor-owned utilities’ Conservation Improvement Program triennial plans. These plans outline the utilities’ proposed energy efficiency portfolio for 2021-2023 and provide program-level detail. DOC approved the proposed budgets, participation targets and energy savings goals for the IOUs. Further detail can be found in the complete rulings found here:
- Xcel Energy, docket 20-473
- Otter Tail Power, docket 20-475
- Minnesota Power, docket 20-476
- CenterPoint Energy, docket 20-478
- Minnesota Energy Resources Corporation, docket 20-479
The PUC has opened dockets (20-425, 20-427) at the request of the state’s investor-owned utilities to study potential avenues for cost recovery of costs and debts incurred through COVID-19. The PUC also opened a docket (20-492) to ask utilities how they and their future infrastructure investments can contribute to the state’s economic recovery.
Additionally, the PUC held a hearing on its shared-savings financial mechanism (08-133). This long-running docket seeks to determine if and how the Commission should modify its shared-savings mechanism for utilities in the upcoming 2021-23 triennial. The PUC agreed that discussions on the topic should move forward.
MEEA is participating 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 is looking to understand the various policy considerations and equity implications of an electrified Minnesota. 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.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has initiated a State Energy Planning (MoSEP) process. The planning process will include an ongoing series of stakeholder engagement workshops to identify and address topics critical to Missouri’s current and future energy needs. The process began with a Virtual Energy Stakeholder Kickoff Workshop on October 29, and the recording and slides are now available. A follow-up workshop has yet to be scheduled.
Initial briefs and reply briefs in EU-2020-0350, Evergy’s request for an Accounting Authority Order (AAO) to track and defer financial impacts due to COVID-19 as a regulatory asset, were filed. Earlier in the fall, the Commission issued an order approving a stipulation in Spire Gas’ Accounting Authority Order (AAO) case.
On November 29, Empire District Electric filed a proposal for a portfolio of transportation electrification pilot programs with a five-year term. The deadline to intervene in this case is December 30. A staff report on recommendations is expected by January 15.
Working case AW-2020-0356 was initially opened to explore best-practices for addressing past-due utility bill payment and is now active in gathering and reporting disconnections data. Monthly reports are expected by the 22nd of each month beyond December 2020. Most recently, on November 23, the PSC staff filed a report on various data related to disconnections.
On October 30, Spire Gas filed an application for an On-Bill Financing Mechanism for energy efficiency upgrades, modeled after Pay-As-You-Save®.
On September 27, Ameren Missouri filed their 2020 Integrated Resource Plan in which they establish a net-zero carbon emissions goal by 2050. Their forecasting incorporates various levels of achievable potential savings from demand side programs, including those from MEEIA programs. The IRP report is due by March 1, 2021.
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 factors 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 will begin its next legislative biennium on January 6, 2021.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Nebraska or to get more involved, contact Maddie Wazowicz.
There are currently five bills in the legislature that would partially or completely repeal HB 6—the 2019 law that directed funding to extend coal and nuclear plant viability and repealed the energy efficiency and renewable energy resource standards. House Democrats introduced HB 738 and House Republicans introduced HB 746. Bipartisan bill SB 346 was introduced in the Senate. All three bills would repeal HB 6 and allow the pre-HB 6 energy efficiency resource standard to resume at a 2% annual savings requirement for electric utility energy efficiency programs beginning in 2021 with a utility-specific cumulative savings target of at least 22% by 2027.
HB 772, an alternative partial repeal bill, would retain the EERS repeal but restore a modified RPS, end the nuclear and coal subsidies and repeal decoupling provisions. HB 798, an HB 6 delay bill, was introduced on December 1st by Rep. Hoops and pushes collection of the charge for solar and nuclear from ratepayers by one year (starting January 1, 2022). It also terminates the FirstEnergy decoupling mechanism sixty days after the effective date of the legislation and amends the nuclear audit provision to require an “audit” rather than a “review.” It does nothing to restore energy efficiency in the state of Ohio.
There have been eight hearings in the House Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight on the status of HB 6. Testimony from all the hearings can be found here on the Committee website. The first was September 10th and covered the two proposed repeal and revive bills—HB 738 and 746—in addition to H.B. 740, a bill that addresses the significantly excessive earnings determination for an electric distribution utility’s electric security plan. The successive three hearings were held on September 16th, 23rd and 30th and all discussed HB 738 and HB 746, both full repeal bills. A fifth hearing was held on November 19th on H.B. 772, the partial repeal bill that would not revive the EERS. Most recently, there have been four hearings this month on HB 798, the delay bill (Dec. 2nd, 3rd, 8th and 9th).
On the Senate side, there have been opportunities for proponents, opponents and interested parties of the proposed bipartisan repeal and revive bill—S.B.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. Per statute, PUCO Vice Chairman M. Beth Trombold will be the acting PUCO chairman until a new chairman is named. The PUCO Nominating Council, a 12-member panel that screens and evaluates candidates, will make recommendations to Governor DeWine for whom to nominate for the vacancy.
How to Get Involved
Governor Evers’ Task Force on Climate Change, chaired by Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, submitted its final report of policy recommendations to Governor Evers on October 31. MEEA’s comments to the Energy, Housing and Infrastructure subcommittee can be found here.
Governor Evers recently unveiled an executive order that aims to address climate concerns in the state. The order mandates the Department of Administration to create the Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy. This newly-formed office will be tasked with developing a clean energy plan that will help Wisconsin adapt to future changes in the climate. Additionally, this plan will outline ways for the state to achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. The office will also be asked to promote clean energy workforce trainings, increase research and development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technology and develop energy standards for state-owned buildings.
The Wisconsin legislature will begin its next biennium on January 4, 2021. Committee assignments have yet to be announced.
How to Get Involved
On December 8, Democrat-pick for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner, Allison Clements, was sworn in. Mark Christie, the Republican-pick for FERC Commissioner is expected to be sworn in on January 4.
On November 23, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released a letter to President-elect Biden, urging him to use existing authorities to revive appliance standards and cut energy waste in various building sectors. MEEA is a signatory to this letter.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Federal issues or to get more involved, contact Nick Dreher.
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