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 / MI / MN / MO / NE / OH / WI
- Federal Update
- New Resources & Blog Posts
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. There are ongoing cases in public service commissions to address utility service impacts to customers. The efficiency workforce has not fully recovered from the economic slowdown and social distancing in late spring that carried into the summer. Most utility programs have resumed, some with alterations including virtual elements or limited direct customer interaction. All legislatures in the Midwest have now reconvened for the new session.
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: The Midwest Shoots, Does It Score? A Regional Status Update
Tuesday, February 2 | 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. CST
In 2020, the Midwest saw significant disruptions in the energy efficiency industry, and the need for greater energy affordability was made clear. Join MEEA for a deeper look at how the Midwest fared over the last year and a celebration of bright spots across the region through a peek at the 2021 Midwest Energy Efficiency Spotlight.
The webinar will also feature Weston Berg from ACEEE for a discussion on the Midwest state rankings in ACEEE’s 2020 State Scorecard. He will provide context for how the states scored, and share more on policy issues, opportunities and successes. Register here >>
Webinar Recording: Election Recap
On December 17, MEEA’s Policy Team provided a recap of the election results, including analysis on how federal and state elections will affect the region’s energy efficiency policies and programs. View the recording and slides.
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.
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.
The new 2-year legislative session began on January 13, 2021.
The 2020 Illinois legislative session adjourned on May 31 but reconvened for a lame duck session from January 8 to 13. A new Speaker, Emmanuel “Chris” Welch (7th District), was selected, ending the 35-year tenure of former Speaker Mike Madigan. He made history as the first Black speaker of the Illinois House in the state’s history. The major piece of clean energy legislation, the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA), previously introduced as SB 2132 / HB 3624, has not yet been reintroduced. It 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.
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.
Indiana’s legislative session convened on January 4.
House Bill 1220 has been introduced. It would reestablish the 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force with a new mandate to include topics that the first task force declined to address, including:
- Regulation of the development of distributed energy resources (DERs)
- Status of EE in Indiana & potential for a statewide EE plan
- Demand response & pricing structures that encourage load shifting
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. For help finding the utility mailing list sign-up and IRP meeting registration, or for other questions about Indiana, contact
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 on state facilities and lands. The MPSC is currently studying its role in executive order implementation.
The Michigan legislature convened for its new biennium on January 13, 2021. Committee assignments have yet to be announced.
Governor Whitmer has appointed Katherine Peretick to the MPSC. Commissioner Peretick will fill out the remainder of former Commissioner Sally Talberg’s term. Peretick began serving as Commissioner on January 4, though the Senate does have sixty days from the appointment announcement to reject the appointment.
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 work group 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. The kickoff meeting for the newest work group, New Technologies and Business Models, is scheduled for January 27. Meetings slowed around the holidays, but the Competitive Procurement Work Group and the Integration of Resource/Distribution/Transmission Planning Work Group both met in mid-January.
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 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 began its new biennium 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. The Clean Energy First Act, which was discussed at length in 2019 and 2020, was reintroduced as HF 10. Additionally, a bill (HF 70) was introduced to implement a revolving loan fund for state buildings to make energy efficiency improvements.
The Department of Commerce issued decisions on the investor-owned utilities’ Conservation Improvement Program triennial plans. These plans outline the utilities’ proposed energy efficiency portfolios for 2021-2023 and provide program-level detail. The DOC approved the proposed budgets, participation targets and energy savings goals for the IOUs. Further detail can be found in the complete rulings linked below:
- 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
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 looks to understand the various policy considerations and equity implications of an electrified Minnesota. The TAC will present its findings to stakeholders on February 4. More information on the project can be found here.
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.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Minnesota or to get more involved, contact Maddie Wazowicz.
Missouri's legislative session convened on January 6, but was delayed due to COVID-19 infections.
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.
On January 14, the PSC approved Evergy’s request for an Accounting Authority Order (AAO) to track and defer financial impacts due to COVID-19 as a regulatory asset.
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. On December 22, the PSC staff filed an updated report.
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 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.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Nebraska or to get more involved, contact Maddie Wazowicz.
Ohio’s legislative session convened on January 4.
There have been five bills in the legislature that would partially or completely repeal HB 6—the 2019 law that directed funding extending 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 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—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. 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, made recommendations to Governor DeWine for who to nominate for the vacancy. The four candidates submitted by the Nominating Council were Angela Amos, Anne Vogel, Greg Poulos and Judith French. Judith French was recently named director of Ohio state Department of Insurance on January 19th, meaning she is no longer in the running. Governor DeWine was expected to announce his choice in late January but instead announced on January 20th that he would not appoint any of the four candidates. His statement explaining this decision and asking for a new list can be found here.
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.
The newly-formed 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.
The Wisconsin legislature began its new biennium on January 4, 2021. Sen. Cowles will chair the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, and Rep. Kuglitsch will chair the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities. Governor Evers asked the legislature to first focus on revamping the state’s unemployment insurance system before legislating other matters.
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 was sworn in on January 4.
On December 29, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, was signed and includes the Energy Act of 2020, the Grid Modernization Act and the Clean Industrial Technology Act, all of which include several energy efficiency provisions. The bill maintains funding for the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy while slightly increasing budgets for the Weatherization Assistance Program and Buildings Technology Office. See the Alliance to Save Energy, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and the Combined Heat and Power Alliance summaries on key energy efficiency programs and initiatives in the bill.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Federal issues or to get more involved, contact Nick Dreher.
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