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, which focused on principle eight. On March 15, MEEA attended a working group meeting convened by the Governor’s office to discuss the customer EE exemption in Illinois. The Governor has since integrated information gathered through the working groups and stakeholder consultation into a clean energy bill called the Consumers and Climate First Act, which was discussed and debated in the legislative session.
The Illinois legislative session ended May 31 and the legislature did not resolve the debate over the future of the state’s clean energy strategy. There were several clean energy bills under consideration, including: Clean Energy Jobs Act or CEJA (HB 804), Climate Union Jobs Act or CUJA (SB 1100), Path to 100 (SB 1601) and the Consumers and Climate First Act (SB 2896 / HB 4074).
CEJA, previously introduced as SB 2132 / HB 3624, was re-introduced 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 Jobs Coalition website. CEJA (HB 804) passed out of committee on March 15 and moved to the full Illinois House of Representatives for debate.
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 9 and heard on March 22. It would, among other things, alter the definition of energy efficiency, allow certain public utilities to recover natural gas delivery service 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 CUJA or HB 1472 / SB 1100, which 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.
The Consumers and Climate First Act, SB 2896 / HB 4074, is the bill backed by the governor. It would commit Illinois to phasing out coal by 2030 and natural gas by 2045, while maintaining nuclear energy and increasing both renewable energy and energy efficiency. It uses declining GHG emission caps and an $8/ton price on carbon emissions from fossil fuel-fired plants to help facilitate the transition. The bill includes many of the same components of the CEJA bill, related to Just Transition, workforce development, electrification and utility accountability reforms.
Illinois’ legislative session ended on May 31, but legislators have indicated they are open to reconvening during the summer to pass energy legislation, which would require a three-fifths majority vote in each chamber given the May 31 deadline has passed.
How to Get Involved
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, now Public Law 180, 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. It goes into effect July 1.
Integrated resource planning is ongoing for Indiana utilities.
- Duke Energy Indiana has begun its 2021 IRP stakeholder process
- The next stakeholder meeting is on June 21 with online registration available.
- Indiana Michigan Power is engaged in its 2021 IRP process
- Workshop 3 is scheduled for July 27 and registration is open. The fourth workshop is tentatively scheduled for September 14.
- NIPSCO has begun its 2021 IRP process
- Future meetings on July 13, September 21 and October 12 have been announced. Registration is not yet open for the July 13 meeting.
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
Iowa utilities filed their 2020 energy efficiency portfolio annual reports according to the May 1 deadline. Reports can be found here:
Iowa’s legislative session adjourned on May 19.
SF 619 / HF 893, a state and local revenue and finance omnibus bill, was signed into law on June 16. Division 14 of the bill creates a new Energy Infrastructure Revolving Loan Program (EIRLP) to be administered by the Iowa Energy Center. The EIRLP replaces the current Alternative Energy Revolving Loan Fund and would support development of projects for electric/gas generation, transmission, storage or distribution, grid modernization, energy sector workforce development, emergency preparedness for rural/underserved areas, expansion of biogas and renewable natural gas, AFV infrastructure and other innovative technologies. The bill also ties outcomes for funded projects to Iowa’s Energy Plan and the Iowa Energy Center’s priorities.
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.
How to Get Involved
If you have any questions about Iowa or want to get more involved, contact Samarth Medakkar.
On June 24, The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) convened a work-study on the role of the utility in demand-side management. The session included a presentation from Evergy on their intent to offer energy efficiency programs in the state and a discussion regarding the approach and impacts of programs. The recording of the work-study can be found here.
On April 4, the 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 May 6, the KCC opened a public comment period through July 7 to allow the public to weigh in on Evergy’s Sustainability Transformation Plan (STP) (Docket No. 21-EKME-088-GIE). On May 24, the KCC convened the final of four workshops (see recording) regarding Evergy’s STP ordered by the Commission in November in the aforementioned docket. The workshop was held for Evergy to update its STP, incorporate feedback from earlier workshops and comments, discuss its integrated resource plan and address questions from stakeholders.
Kansas legislature formally adjourned on May 26.
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.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Kansas or to get more involved, contact Samarth Medakkar.
Last fall, 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. MEEA is participating on both the Buildings and Housing and Energy Intensive Industries working groups.
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, with hopes of meeting on the third Wednesday of each month. 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 final report. The newest workgroup, Customer Data Accessibility, held its first meeting on May 25. 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 is working 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 third and final meeting was held on June 17.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Michigan or to get more involved, contact Maddie Wazowicz.
Minnesota’s legislative session ended on May 17, but the legislature returned for a special session on June 14. The legislature needs to pass a budget bill and committee omnibus bills by June 30 in order to avoid a government shutdown. Both the Senate Energy and Utilities and the House Climate and Energy committees released their committee omnibus bills in early April. Prior to the close of session, a conference committee formed to hammer out the differences on the combined omnibus commerce and energy bill, SF 972. After session closed, the conference committee continued to seek a compromise as a working group.
- Fund a revolving loan account which would fund energy efficiency upgrades for state facilities;
- Create the Energy Transition Office, which would help assist communities experiencing economic distress from power plant retirements;
- Extend the Cold Weather Rule by banning disconnections for customers complying with a payment plan from October 1 to April 30 (previously October 15 to April 15);
- Create the Minnesota Efficient Technology Accelerator, where a Minnesota nonprofit would collaborate with technology manufacturers to accelerate the deployment of energy efficient technologies;
- Authorize natural gas utilities to file plans with the PUC outlining their usage of innovative resources that displace traditional natural gas;
- Fund a pilot program to connect young adults in underserved communities with job training in clean energy and energy efficiency sectors;
- Require the PUC to study the role of natural gas utilities in achieving the state’s carbon reduction goals.
Additional details on the compromise can be found here. Some energy efficiency-related provisions did not make it into the final bill, like the provision to strengthen the state’s commercial energy codes or funding for an innovative clean energy finance authority. The bills passed out of their assigned committees, but after hours of debate both the House and Senate voted to lay the bills on the table. The bills are likely to be taken up by both chambers in the coming days.
Prior to the close of session, the Energy Optimization and Conservation (ECO) Act passed after a conference committee reached a compromise on the remaining areas of disagreement between the two chambers. The Act was signed by Governor Walz. ECO will 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. ECO was sponsored by Sen. Rarick and Rep. Stephenson, and the bill ultimately passed with bipartisan support in both chambers. To explain the details of the Conservation Improvement Planning overhaul, MEEA wrote a summary analysis of ECO.
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.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources initiated a State Energy Planning (MoSEP) process with a Virtual Energy Stakeholder Kickoff Workshop last fall. 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.
Missouri’s legislative session ended on May 14.
Senate Substitute for HB 697 passed the House on May 12 and has been sent to the Governor for signage. 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.
Governor Parson appointed former representative Glen Kolkmeyer (R) to the Public Service Commission. Kolkmeyer replaces outgoing Commissioner Kenney. 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.
On April 30, Evergy filed its triennial integrated resource plan. The plan has a 20-year scope and restates their intent to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045, with an interim 70% emissions reduction target for 2030, consistent with their Sustainability Transformation Plan. A procedural schedule has not been filed by the Commission.
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 were 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.
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 adjourned its legislative session sine die in late May. It is likely the Unicameral will gather for a special session this summer, but that session is likely to focus on legislative redistricting.
LB 306, introduced by Sen. Brandt, passed on a 38-6 vote. Despite this, Governor Ricketts vetoed LB 306 on May 25th. The legislature successfully overrode this veto, and the bill is now law. LB 306 will expand eligibility requirements for LIHEAP (previously capped at 130% of federal poverty level, now increased to 150%) and dedicate 10% of LIHEAP funds to weatherization.
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.
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. DeWine signed the final version of the bill into law on March 31st. For more information on HB 128, see MEEA’s blog on the issue.
A different 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 successfully passed both chambers and is effective as of May 14th.
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 House Transportation Committee heard proponent testimony on May 11th.
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. SB 127 had its first hearing before the Senate Energy Committee on May 12th.
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 December 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. French was successfully confirmed by the Senate.
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.
The legislature continues to focus its work on the state’s budget. 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 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. Comments were due May 14; MEEA’s response to this docket can be found here. Organizations’ comments can be found here.
Additionally, Cadmus is expected to release its draft Focus on Energy potential study in the coming days. More information on the potential study can be found here.
How to Get Involved
PJM Interconnection issued an initial proposal striking the expanded minimum offer price rule (MOPR), a ruling in late 2019 that would raise the price floor for state-subsidized energy resources, like new energy efficiency/demand-side management and renewables, in PJM’s wholesale capacity power auctions. Instead, PJM proposes that FERC determine whether MOPR should apply to certain resources in granting a 206 complaint. This proposal was part of Stage 1 of the critical issue fast path (CIFP) accelerated stakeholder process. The process will conclude in July with a final proposal filing by PJM.
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.
Recent Public Comments
- Energy Planning in the Midwest: Energy Efficiency as a Foundation
- Minnesota Passes the ECO Act, a Modern and Expansive Update to its EE Framework
- Key to reducing walkaways? Collaboration from the ground up
- A Missed Opportunity: How Ohio’s HB 6 Partial Repeal Bill Neglects Energy Efficiency
- Climate Change and the Texas/ERCOT Energy Crisis