MEEA Policy Insider - January 2024

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

In this issue:

 

MEEA’s 2024 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference

Join us next week at MEEA’s 22nd annual Midwest Energy Solutions Conference. See the most updated agenda here, which includes sessions covering energy efficiency policy like two plenaries on federal funding opportunities. 

 

MEEA Member Policy Committee

Are you interested in learning more about energy efficiency policy and getting involved in MEEA’s policy work? Join the MEEA Member Policy Committee! You will attend and engage in our quarterly meetings, with a direct line to our staff policy experts.

Please reach out to Senior Policy Associate Christian Koch with your interest or questions. 

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Municipal

On January 24, Chicago’s Mayor Johnson introduced the Clean and Affordable Buildings Ordinance (CABO). The ordinance would greatly restrict natural gas usage in all newly constructed buildings by banning the combustion of fuels that emit more than 25 kilograms of carbon dioxide per million Btu of energy inside a structure. Effectively, this means that new buildings would have to be built all-electric. The ordinance would apply to all new commercial and residential buildings, as well as those undergoing substantial retrofits, though the ordinance does contain some opt-outs like for commercial laundry and cooking. CABO will now make its way to the Chicago City Council, starting with the Rules Committee.

Legislative

The Illinois 103rd General Assembly reconvened for its 2024 legislative session on January 16. A calendar for the 2024 House and Senate legislative sessions can be found here and here.

The deadline to submit bill draft requests to the Legislative Reference Bureau was January 19 and the deadline for bill introductions in the General Assembly is February 9.

Regulatory

On January 22, pursuant to Public Act 103-0508 (formerly SB 1699/HB 3445, 2023), the Illinois Power Agency (IPA) released a preliminary draft of its 2024 Policy Study analyzing policy proposals made during the Spring 2023 legislative session. The report includes studies on three topics: energy storage systems, an offshore wind project in Lake Michigan and a high voltage direct current transmission facility. The report highlights the role that advanced energy technologies play in supporting more efficient and resilient energy systems across the state. A memo of the draft policy study from the IPA can be found here.

The Illinois Energy Efficiency Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) held their first Large SAG meeting of the year on January 17. The objective of the 2024 SAG Portfolio Planning Process is to reach consensus on 2026-2029 individual utility energy efficiency plans for Ameren Illinois, ComEd, Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas, prior to each utility filing an energy efficiency plan with the Illinois Commerce Commission by March 1, 2025. Materials from the January 17 meeting are posted on the SAG website. Comments and questions regarding 2024 SAG planning are due January 31 and can be sent to Celia Johnson at Celia@CeliaJohnsonConsulting.com. The next Large SAG meeting is scheduled for February 13.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Energy announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity from the state’s Energy Efficiency Trust Fund – a state funding program created in 1997 intended to benefit residential electric customers through energy efficiency. Project funding from $25,000 to $50,000 is currently available to public housing authorities, local governments and nonprofit organizations that are implementing energy efficiency improvements for the benefit of residents receiving housing assistance from a state or federal program and are also located in an area of environmental justice concern. See more information about the Energy Efficiency Trust Fund here.

How to Get Involved

For more information about Illinois or to get more involved, contact Christian Koch

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Legislative

The 2024 Indiana legislature will hold a short session, as is normal in even-numbered years. A calendar of 2024 House and Senate legislative sessions can be found here and here. Session opened on January 8, and will adjourn on or by March 14. House bills must report out of committee by January 30, and Senate bills by February 1.

  • SB 259 would allow municipalities to establish clean energy districts.
  • HB 1278 would establish some reforms at the IURC and the Office of Energy Development, primarily related to repealing portions of the Indiana Code related to programs and funds that have become obsolete. The bill also makes a change in where public meetings can be held related to rate cases.

 

Regulatory

2024 Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs) are expected from:

  • Publicly-owned utilities – expected filing date has been extended for all the utilities.
    • Hoosier Energy – extended to April 1, 2024
    • Indiana Municipal Power Agency (IMPA) – extended to February 1, 2024
    • Wabash Valley – extended to May 1, 2024

Updates from the Commission on IRPs in Indiana will be posted to the IURC’s IRP page.

How to Get Involved

For more information about Indiana or to get more involved, contact Greg Ehrendreich

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Legislative

Iowa’s legislative session commenced on January 8. The full session timetable can be found here.

Regulatory

The Iowa Utilities Board held three policy charrettes in response to the passage of HF 617, which required the IUB to review utility ratemaking procedures. MEEA actively participated and submitted comments for all three charrettes, available here. Independent consultants, London Economics International, presented their research and findings to the legislature on January 9. Key findings include the potential for more ambitious EE/DR programs and the suggestion that long-term resource planning could help identify infrastructure and resource needs in the state. The complete report is accessible here.

How to Get Involved

For more information about Iowa or to get more involved, contact Arlinda Bajrami.

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Legislative

The Kansas Legislature convened its annual session starting on January 8. The deadline for introduction of bills is February 7, as established in the 2024 session deadlines. A few energy efficiency-related bills have already been introduced, and a majority have been referred to the Senate Committee on Utilities and the House Committee on Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications, respectively. We are also tracking energy-related bills from the previous year’s session which may be eligible for reintroduction.

HB2527, sponsored by the Committee on Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications, would establish cost recovery mechanisms for public utilities that construct certain electric generation facilities, revising the determination of rate base, capital structure and return on equity in utility rate proceedings and revising the provision of economic development electric rates.

How to Get Involved

For more information about Kansas or to get more involved, contact Natalie Newman

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Legislative

The 2024 legislative session convened on January 2. See the calendar here. Session will adjourn on or by April 15.

HB 180 is the only energy or utility-related bill that has been filed this session. It pertains to utility disconnection by electric and gas utilities.

Regulatory

LG&E/KU’s 2024-2030 DSM-EE plan was approved in Case 2022-00402. The approved plan will spend $45-50 million/year, about triple the annual spending for existing programs. It will include an expanded suite of cost-effective programs, with an Income-Qualified program designed to reach 5,400 customers a year.

How to Get Involved

For more information about Kentucky or to get more involved, contact Greg Ehrendreich

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Legislative

The Michigan legislature returned on January 10. Before the close of last session, the Michigan House passed HB5028. The bill would prohibit homeowners’ associations from preventing Michigan homeowners from installing, replacing or maintaining energy-saving improvements, like heat pumps, insulation, energy efficient appliances and more. The bill then landed in the Senate, where it was assigned to the Committee on Energy and Environment on November 2.

Regulatory

The Michigan Public Service Commission recently ordered the MPSC’s Energy Affordability and Accessibility Collaborative (EAAC) to be extended through 2024. The EAAC is tasked with making recommendations on percentage of income payment plans for low-income customers.

Consumers Energy filed its 2024-25 EWR plan in Docket U-21321. Consumers sets a target of 1.90% annual electric savings and 1.00% annual gas savings, planning to spend $190.9 million in 2024 and $180.0 million in 2025 on the electric side and $95 million annually on the gas side. The filing timeline was recently pushed back, and a final decision isn’t expected for a few months.

Executive

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy has released its MI Healthy Climate Plan 2023 Report. The report summarizes the progress that has been made toward achieving the goals of the 2022 MI Healthy Climate Plan, notably outlining how the Plan compares to the 2023 climate legislation that passed.

How to Get Involved

For more information about Michigan or to get more involved, contact Maddie Wazowicz

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Legislative

The Minnesota legislature returns to session on February 12. The 2024 session will end by May 20.

The bipartisan Legislative Energy Commission met on January 24. The group meets periodically (mostly out of session) and hosts speakers for legislators to hear about emerging energy issues. This month’s agenda focused mainly on transmission issues, and recent meetings in September and November dealt with hydrogen and community solar gardens.

Regulatory

Governor Walz has appointed Hwikwon Ham to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) seat vacated by Commissioner Matt Schuerger. Ham was most recently a staff supervisor at the PUC and previously worked for the Department of Commerce as a rates analyst. The term is set to expire in January 2028.

The Deputy Commissioner of Commerce has issued decisions on the investor-owned utilities’ triennial energy conservation and optimization plans. The final decisions did not substantially vary from the Staff decisions issued in late October. Plans and decisions can be found in the following dockets:

  • Xcel Energy: 23-92
  • CenterPoint Energy: 23-95
  • Minnesota Power: 23-93
  • Minnesota Energy Resources Corporation: 23-98
  • Otter Tail Power Company: 23-94

The PUC continues its work in docket 23-117 to determine the scope of natural gas integrated resource plans (IRPs). In February 2023, the PUC ordered that the state’s IRP process be expanded to include gas utilities. Since that order, the Great Plains Institute has been holding an ongoing workshop series to determine the parameters for gas IRPs. The framework will start from an October 24 filing from the Citizens Utility Board.

How to Get Involved

For more information about Minnesota or to get more involved, contact Maddie Wazowicz.

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Legislative

The Legislative sessions for the Missouri House of Representatives and Senate convened on January 3 and are scheduled to conclude on May 17.

Two notable Senate bills have been introduced and referred to the Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee:

  • SB 1280 would significantly modify the duties of the Public Service Commission, limiting their purview and oversight capabilities.
  • SB 805 would allow investor-owned utilities advantages regarding construction of power transmission.

 

Regulatory

Missouri’s triennial Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) process was initiated, with Ameren Missouri releasing its 20-year IRP in late September. The proceedings can be monitored at docket EO-2024-0020. Applications to intervene were approved by the Commission on November 16. Commission Staff and other interveners must file reports on the filing by February 28, 2024. Ameren filed Supplemental IRP documentation on December 20.

Proceedings are underway for Ameren Missouri’s MEEIA Cycle 4 plan, which can be followed in Docket EO-2023-0136. Ameren and intervenors submitted a Joint Motion to Amend Procedural Schedule on January 11, setting the deadline for direct testimony on March 1 and evidentiary hearings in June. Ameren filed their amended application on January 25 outlining their proposed programs, including several income-eligible programs, a residential efficient products program and a Pay As You Save® program.

On November 16, the PSC approved the Stipulation and Agreement to extend Evergy Missouri’s Missouri Energy Efficiency Investment Act (MEEIA) Cycle 3 plan into 2024 in docket EO-2019-0132. The Stipulation went into effect on December 16 and includes the continuation of Evergy’s Urban Heat Island pilot project, as well as a $2,000,000 spending floor for Income-Eligible programs. A new procedural schedule for Evergy’s MEEIA Cycle 4 filing was expected by January 16, according to Evergy. We will continue to follow the progress of this filing.

Evergy is working with the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) on an Urban Heat Island Mitigation pilot program. A draft proposal for the program - Kansas City Urban Heat Island Analysis and Mitigation Proposal - was shared with previously involved stakeholders in the Urban Heat Island Work Group for their review and feedback in preparation for submission to the Missouri Public Service Commission. MARC will be establishing a stakeholder group to guide the pilot in early 2024. Please reach out to Ryan Umberger at MARC if you are interested in getting involved.

How to Get Involved

For more information about Missouri or to get more involved, contact Natalie Newman

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Legislative

Nebraska’s 2024 legislative session began on January 3 and is scheduled to last through mid-April. The deadline for legislators to introduce bills was January 17. The full legislative calendar can be found here.

LB164 was introduced last session and remained under review by the Urban Affairs Committee until recently. The bill has been renumbered to LB1219 and introduced by Senator John Canvanugh. LB1219 aims to adopt the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) to ensure that minimum energy efficiency standard is maintained throughout the state. A notice of hearing has been scheduled for February 13.

LB541, another carryover bill introduced by Senator John Lowe, focuses on the nomination and election process for public power district and public power and irrigation directors. If passed, this bill will mandate that these positions be included on the partisan ballot. Currently, the bill is awaiting committee amendments.

Executive

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) is set to receive a $3 million grant through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Climate Pollution Reduction Grant (CPRG) program. This grant will support the development of a Priority Climate Action Plan by March 1, 2024, and a Comprehensive Climate Action Plan by late summer 2025.

NDEE has established five stakeholder working groups to consider greenhouse gas emission reduction measures, including transportation, agriculture/natural and working lands, industry/waste and wastewater, energy production and buildings/housing communities. Interested parties and the public will be engaged over the next two years. To participate in a stakeholder working group and register for the upcoming sessions, visit the program web page. For further information about the stakeholder working group sessions and the program, contact NDEE via email at NDEE.climatepollution@nebraska.gov.

How to Get Involved

For more information about Nebraska or to get more involved, contact Arlinda Bajrami

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Legislative

The North Dakota legislature meets biennially in odd-numbered years and is therefore not scheduled to convene until January 7, 2025.

On November 9, the Chairman of North Dakota’s Energy Development and Transmission Committee called for an interim committee meeting for December 18. The meeting included presentations on the committee’s recent studies on sustainable energy policies and natural gas accessibility in small communities. The meeting agenda can be found here.

How to Get Involved

For more information about North Dakota or to get more involved, contact Christian Koch

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Legislative

The 2024 session convened on January 2 as a carryover session. See the calendar here. Session runs the full calendar year and is currently scheduled through June.

HB79 would allow utilities to establish limited voluntary energy efficiency programs. The bill has passed committee but has not had a vote by the House. Most observers do not expect the bill to make it to the House floor until after the March primary election.

Regulatory

First Energy has applied for a $72.1 million / 4-year energy efficiency and demand response program as part of its Standard Service Offer (SSO) case in docket 23-0301-EL-SSO. The case is ongoing.

How to Get Involved

For more information about Ohio or to get more involved, contact Greg Ehrendreich

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Legislative

The South Dakota kicked off its 2024 session on January 9 with the introduction of many new bills, including HB 1053, which creates term limits for public utility commissioners and passed through the House State Affairs committee on January 17.

The deadline for bill introductions is February 1.

How to Get Involved

For more information about South Dakota or to get more involved, contact Christian Koch

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Legislative

Wisconsin legislators returned on January 16.

On January 12, the Senate Committee on Utilities and Technology held an executive session and voted along partisan lines to not support the appointment of Public Service Commissioner Tyler Huebner. On January 16, the full Senate concurred with the Committee’s recommendation and rejected Commissioner Huebner’s appointment.

In November, Senators Cowles and Stroebel introduced a suite of bills (SB646 - SB651) that would alter Wisconsin Public Service Commission rules. Among other tweaks, the bills would mandate utilities alert customers of potential rate increases, require the PSC to produce year-end reports summarizing docketed activity and adjust PSC complaint procedures.

SB651 would require electric utilities and cooperative associations to submit integrated resource and reliability plans. The plans would outline future construction, project future energy demand and assess whether a utility has sufficient capacity to meet demand at a reasonable price. The plan would also describe programs and policies for discouraging “inefficient” energy usage. A mandate for utilities to submit these plans would replace the requirement that the PSC prepare a biennial strategic energy assessment. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Utilities and Technology on November 9.

Additionally, Wisconsin Democrats have released a suite of climate and energy related bills. Among the bills are:

  • SB795: would double the mandated amount utilities must pay into the Focus program, from 1.2% of its annual retail sales revenue to 2.4%
  • SB806: would add a mandate that the Focus on Energy program promote energy efficiency and renewable energy measures for low-income households
  • SB775: would create a $20 million appropriation to the PSC Energy Innovation Grant Program, which would fund energy efficiency innovation
  • SB777: would require the Department of Safety and Professional Services to establish a stretch energy code
  • SB784: would require the PSC to establish an on-bill financing program to finance energy improvements at residences

The bills have been assigned to committee.

Regulatory

On January 11, Chairperson Valcq announced that she would step down from the PSC, effective February 2. Governor Evers promptly named a replacement, appointing Kristy Nieto to the seat, which is set to expire January 2025. Nieto was most recently a division administrator for energy regulation and analysis at the PSC. Also in response to this announcement, Governor Evers named Commissioner Strand the new Chair of the PSC.

How to Get Involved

For more information about Wisconsin or to get more involved, contact Maddie Wazowicz

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Federal updates

Executive

The Department of Energy finalized energy efficiency requirements for residential refrigerators and freezers and announced proposed efficiency standards for commercial fans and blowers. Both sets of standards are set to go into effect in 2029. With these announcements, DOE has wrapped up a busy 2023 where it issued 30 proposed or finalized efficiency standards.

Federal agencies continue to roll out programs funded under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

EPA recently announced The Community Change Grants Program – a funding opportunity under the IRA Environmental and Climate Justice Program – which aims to fund environmental and climate justice activities for local community organizations that benefit disadvantaged communities. Approximately $2 billion in funding will be provided, allocated towards projects that reduce pollution, increase community climate resilience and build community capacity to address environmental and climate justice challenges. The Notice of Funding Opportunity is now open, with rolling applications accepted and a final deadline of November 21, 2024.

DOE extended the deadline for state energy offices to apply for Training for Residential Energy Contractors (TREC) grants (formerly known as Home Energy Efficiency Contractor Training Grants) to January 31, 2024. DOE will award $150 million in formula grants to states and up to $40 million in competitive grants to educate, test and certify contractors to perform residential energy efficiency and electrification upgrades like those funded by the Home Energy Rebates program. State energy offices must apply to DOE to receive this funding (even for the formula grants), and MEEA can provide assistance with applications. Please contact us for more information.

The Climate Pollution Reduction Grants program will be accepting applications from states and metro areas until April 1, 2024, and from Tribes and territories until May 1, 2024. The EPA will award $4.6 billion to implement climate pollution reduction plans developed by states and metro areas. Those plans were seeded by $250 million in planning funds awarded earlier this year. EPA has emphasized that it will prioritize awards for “measures that achieve the greatest amount of GHG reductions.”

How to Get Involved

Information about a number of federal funding opportunities can be found on the Funding Roundup page of MEEA’s website.

For more information about federal matters or to get more involved, contact Maddie Wazowicz

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resources

Recent Publications:

Recent Testimony and Comments:​

Recent Blogs:

 

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