MEEA Policy Insider - June 2020

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:


States are resuming activity with various degrees of social distancing while focusing efforts to address the economic impact of the pandemic. Legislative sessions are either adjourned or convening on a limited basis. The growing number of households struggling to pay energy bills is a major concern. Efficiency workforce and programs have been greatly impacted and utilities and agencies are determining how to resume their energy efficiency programs and in what capacity.

MEEA is tracking impacts 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 June 15, E4TheFuture, E2 and the American Council on Renewable Energy released their May Clean Energy Jobs Impact Analysis. Data indicates that since March, the Midwest EE industry lost 100,393 jobs. Nationally, the energy efficiency sector lost about 431,500 jobs since March. Visit MEEA’s COVID-19 web page to see the impacts on each state.

Webinar: An Introduction to Four Federal Stimulus Priorities (Recording)

On May 19, MEEA hosted a webinar with leaders at the Alliance to Save Energy for an introduction to ASE’s top initiatives for a recovery stimulus bill: the Small Business Energy Efficiency Grant Program, the Mission Critical Facility Renewal Program, transportation and infrastructure investments and expansion of the Energy Efficiency Tax Credits. See the recording.


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On June 19, Governor Pritzker’s office announced energy working groups will begin reconvening in late June and continue through the summer. The four working groups focus on power sector, transportation, equity and commercial/industrial/buildings-related energy efficiency issues. MEEA sits on the commercial/industrial/buildings EE working group, which will meet late June.

On June 11, Mayor Lightfoot announced that Angela Tovar will serve as the City of Chicago’s Chief Sustainability Officer. Angela Tovar provides more than fifteen years of experience in nonprofit administration, urban sustainability policy, environmental and climate justice and community planning. The appointment is a part of the Mayor’s effort to develop an environmental policy agenda with a focus on equity.


Illinois’ legislative session adjourned on May 31. The legislature may reconvene for fall veto session, from November 17-19 and December 1-3, where clean energy legislation may be considered.


On June 18, the Illinois Commerce Commission approved a stipulated agreement with large utilities that extends the moratorium on disconnections and late payment fees until August 1 (or until Illinois enters Phase 4 of the Governor’s Restore Illinois plan). The agreement outlines the process utilities must follow to provide customers with assistance on their bill prior to disconnection notices, increases access for bill assistance programs for those that express financial hardship and requires extensive data reporting by utilities that the Commission will use to assess COVID-19 impacts on communities.

On April 20, the Illinois Commerce Commission joined regulators and advocates in filing a petition against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) over its Minimum Price Offering Rule (MOPR), which they are concerned shifts more costs to customers and creates a disadvantage for clean energy.

The Illinois Energy Efficiency Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) will spend most of 2020 facilitating an EE portfolio planning process between utilities and stakeholders. The objective is for consensus to be reached prior to utilities filing plans for approval with the Illinois Commerce Commission on March 1, 2021. Interested parties are encouraged to participate.

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.

How to Get Involved

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

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The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) has consolidated several utility and consumer advocate cases into Cause 45380 to address relief regarding the impact on utility operations from the COVID-19 emergency.

Integrated resource planning is ongoing for Indiana utilities. Vectren held its final stakeholder meeting on June 15 and released their preferred plan, which among other provisions called for 1.25% EE throughout the planning period. The presentations from all Vectren’s stakeholder meetings are available on their website. The deadline for filing the full IRP with the IURC is June 30.

Other utility filing deadlines for the next IRPs are:

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

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On May 20, the Iowa Utility Board issued an order providing a process that customer- and investor- owned utilities must follow before resuming disconnections of customer utility services, on or after May 28 and July 1, respectively.

According to the May 1 deadline, Alliant, MidAmerican, Black Hills Energy and Liberty Utilities filed their annual reports for energy efficiency programs in 2019.

How to Get Involved

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


On May 21, the Kansas Corporation Commission issued an order requiring regulated utilities to offer 12-month payment plans and to waive late fees though 2020, to avoid customer disconnections.

How to Get Involved

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


Michigan’s legislature continues to meet, with session dates scheduled in June and July. Both the Senate Energy and Technology Committee and the House Energy Committee have continued meeting. Much of the focus for the remainder of the legislative session is on balancing the state’s budget.


On March 20, 2020, DTE submitted a revised IRP including energy waste reduction (EWR) levels of 1.75% in 2020, prorated based on the date of the final order in this case, and 2.0% in 2021. On April 15, the MPSC issued a final order approving the utility’s revised IRP.

The MPSC continues to work on Case No. U-20757, which seeks to understand COVID-19’s impact on utilities, energy efficiency programs and utility customers. MPSC staff is tasked with writing a report that will combine utility survey responses and stakeholder input in the Energy Waste Reduction Collaborative and Low-Income EWR Work Group meetings. The report, which can be found here, was released on June 15. It provides an update on energy efficiency program continuity and outlines potential next steps for MPSC, utilities, and workgroups to take to remain responsive to the challenges of COVID-19.

The Commission also asked for comments on implementation of shared savings mechanisms. Comments were due on June 16 and can be found here.

How to Get Involved

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


On December 2, Governor Walz signed Executive Order 19-37, establishing both the Climate Change Subcabinet and the Governor’s Advisory Council on Climate Change. The subcabinet, which will consist of members from fifteen cabinet-level agencies, will come up with recommendations to help the state to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals. The appointed members of the citizens’ advisory council will advise the cabinet and the Walz administration on ways to mitigate climate change, improve resiliency and increase interagency collaboration. As of June, members of the subcabinet and advisory council had not yet been appointed.


The Minnesota legislature convened for a special session on June 12. Though advocates were hopeful that the Energy Conservation and Optimization Act (ECO) may be taken up for a vote, much of the legislature’s attention thus far has been on police reform and public safety.

The Minnesota legislature closed its 2020 regularly scheduled session on May 17. Much attention this session was on the Clean Energy First Act (HF1405; SF1456) and the bill was laid on the table without a vote in either the House or the Senate.

ECO (HF4502; SF4409) passed the House on May 11, but was not voted on by the Senate prior to session adjournment. ECO would expand the Conservation Improvement Program to allow for beneficial electrification. The bill would also eliminate utility minimum spend requirements for energy conservation, double the electric IOUs’ minimum spend requirements for low-income customers and increase the energy savings goal for electric IOUs from 1.5% to 1.75% of annual retail sales.  


The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission 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 to ask utilities how they and their future infrastructure investments can contribute to the state’s economic recovery. Utilities are to respond to that docket, 20-492, in June.

How to Get Involved

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

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On May 11, the PSC opened a working case (a non-contested case) to consider best practices for recovery of past-due customer payments after the COVID-19 pandemic emergency. The order opening the working case follows Evergy’s request for an Accounting Authority Order (AAO) to account and receive recovery for costs related to COVID-19 expenses. On May 18, Spire Gas followed with a similar request for an AAO. Through the working case, the Commission ordered Staff to collaboratively produce a report, by August 3, on best practices for addressing late payments and arrearages for vulnerable customers. On June 16, PSC staff filed a motion to either terminate the docket or treat this process as a “case” as defined in the commission rules and apply ex parte communications. Staff states that there’s an overlap in the questions they will ask in their investigation for the working case with issues in Evergy’s and Spire’s AAO contested cases, making it difficult to comply with commission rules for the contested cases.

On June 12, the Staff of the PSC filed an objection to Ameren Missouri’s application to extend their current 3-year energy efficiency programs one year to December 31, 2022. Staff cites concerns including a lack of time to review the application and noncompliance with commission rules. Ameren seeks an extension to avoid filing an IRP and MEEIA Cycle 4 application in the same year and to provide market certainty for customers and trade-allies. The proposed budget for program year 2022 is $75 million and includes a $2 million Pay as You Save pilot that would begin in program year 2022.

On April 8, the Office of Public Counsel submitted a Second Application for Rehearing of issues from Evergy’s MEEIA Cycle 3 regulatory proceeding on the grounds that the Commission’s order approving the portfolio of programs was unlawful and counter to the MEEIA statute. OPC claims that because Evergy did not demonstrate avoided costs (as defined) resulting from programs, the portfolio does not value demand-side investments equal to traditional investments in supply and delivery infrastructure (as required by MEEIA) and departs from the statutorily preferred cost effectiveness test, the total resource cost test. On May 28, the commission voted to deny a rehearing.

How to Get Involved

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


On June 8, Duke Energy filed a voluntary proposal for a new energy efficiency and demand-side management program portfolio, to be offered in year 2021. The proposal includes a rate adjustment mechanism for program costs, lost distribution revenue and shared savings that would apply to customers who voluntarily participate in these programs. Programs proposed, primarily residential and small business sector programs, are substantially fewer than in portfolios proposed prior to HB 6. On June 17, the Commission struck the shared savings provision in the proposal, citing that the intent of HB 6 was to terminate mandated energy savings programs in favor of market-based approaches and that the intent of shared savings is instead to incentivize overachieving energy savings (which are no longer mandated).

On March 27, Duke Energy requested a rehearing to resolve the cost true up, lost distribution revenues and shared savings associated with energy efficiency programs through December 31, 2020. On April 22, the PUCO granted Duke’s request for rehearing.

On February 26, the PUCO ruled that the 2020 EE portfolios shall run through September 30, 2020 and then ramp down and terminate on December 31, 2020. On November 25, 2019, MEEA and other interested parties submitted public comments to the PUCO as part of the EE docketed proceedings. It is unclear what EE Plans will look like post-2020, although it is likely utilities will file voluntary EE Plans for next year.

How to Get Involved

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

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On May 21, Governor Evers’ Task Force on Climate Change met virtually for their third meeting. The Task Force, chaired by Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, discussed a wide range of issues, and will continue to meet over the summer. The Task Force is now charged with issuing recommendations by October 31, 2020, following an extension approved by Governor Evers.


The Wisconsin legislature has adjourned for the year. Committees will continue to meet in the coming months. Governor Evers may call a special session to respond to COVID-19 and to make adjustments to the state’s budget, but no additional session dates are scheduled at this time.

How to Get Involved

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

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On June 18, the House introduced a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan, called the Moving Forward Act. Among other items, it includes $70 billion for clean energy projects, including significant investments for energy efficiency projects across multiple sectors. The bill also requires states to account for climate change before undertaking projects and requires states to comply with specific GHG emission goals to receive funding. A vote on the legislation is anticipated to take place before the 4th of July recess.

On May 12, the House introduced and later passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES) Act. Among other provisions, the bill would increase low-income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP) funding to $1.5 billion through 2021, expand the Payment Protection Program and supply another $1,200 direct payment to eligible individuals. The bill is being read and discussed in the Senate as of June 1.


On June 18, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) announced their Task Force on Emergency Preparedness, Recover and Resiliency, in addition to a subcommittee to review state and national response to COVID-19. The Task Force is a response to recent extreme weather events and the pandemic. Primary goals of the Task Force, in effect for two years, are outlined in the press release linked above. The Task Force will convene its first meeting around July 19-22.

On June 1, PJM filed a second compliance filing in accordance with the FERC’s MOPR order.

On December 19, 2019 the FERC voted 2 to 1 to issue an order making changes to PJM’s capacity market and MOPR. In short, all new resources, including energy efficiency and demand response, will need to meet higher price floors. On April 16, FERC voted to uphold this December ruling, denying requests for a rehearing to reconsider the December order. For a comprehensive summary on the complexities of the MOPR and capacity markets you can read this Vox article.

How to Get Involved

For more information about how this federal activity will impact the region or to get more involved, contact Nick Dreher.


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