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 (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. On March 15, MEEA attended a working group meeting convened by the Governor’s office to discuss the customer EE exemption in Illinois.
The major piece of clean energy legislation, the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA), previously introduced as SB 2132 / HB 3624, was re-introduced on February 9th 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 Job Coalition website. CEJA (HB 804) passed out of committee on March 15th and will now move to the full Illinois House of Representatives for debate and a vote on the floor.
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 9th and heard on March 22nd. 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.
On February 10th, the House voted to adopt a set of rules that would allow remote legislating, including participation in committee hearings, task forces and voting. The rules also included other provisions, such as term limits of 10 years (5 biennial sessions) for the office of speaker or minority leader.
How to Get Involved
Due to COVID-19, 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.
House Bill 1220, as amended, passed the House and is currently in the Senate Utilities committee. 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
IURC Commissioner David Ober was elected on March 16th as Chair of the National Regulatory Research Institute (NRRI) Board of Directors. NRRI is the research arm of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC).
Integrated resource planning is ongoing for Indiana utilities.
- Duke Energy Indiana has begun its 2021 IRP stakeholder process
- Registration for the next meeting will be shared when available
- Indiana Michigan Power has begun its Indiana 2021 IRP process as well
- Register for IMP’s April 14th IRP stakeholder meeting
- NIPSCO has begun its 2021 IRP process
- NIPSCO’s first IRP public advisory meeting was held on March 19th and registration for the next meeting is forthcoming
The utility filing deadline for upcoming 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
Representative Isenhart introduced HF 305, HF 351, HF 695, HF 669 and HF 355. The former four were referred to the House Commerce Committee while the latter was referred to the Local Government Committee. The bills have not received hearings.
- HF 305 would require utilities with energy efficiency plans approved by the Iowa Utilities Board to carry over unspent budgets from the previous program year to the following program year.
- HF 351 would add encouragement of energy efficiency investments in public school facilities as a purpose of the Iowa Energy Center’s alternative energy revolving loan fund.
- HF 669 requires the Iowa Energy Center to conduct outreach and provide education to utility customers regarding energy efficiency and financing opportunities. The bill also requires the Office of Consumer Advocate to develop a standard energy cost disclosure statement for landlords.
- HF 695 requires rate-regulated gas and electric utilities with energy efficiency plans filed to or approved by the Iowa Utilities Board to hold public meetings with community action agencies within their service territories to coordinate prior to energy efficiency plan filing and during implementation.
- HF 355 would allow counties or cities to create energy investment districts to finance energy investments—including energy efficiency measures—for private properties, excluding residential property with fewer than 3 units.
How to Get Involved
If you have any questions about Iowa or want to get more involved, contact Samarth Medakkar.
HB 2381, a bill that would establish a state energy plan task force and require the development of a plan, did not receive a vote and died in committee following its hearing. The bill can still be considered next year.
On February 10, HB 2320 was introduced and referred to the House Committee on Financial Institutions and Rural Development. The bill would enact a Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) act. The bill has not received a hearing.
On January 26, SB 81 (HB 2181) was introduced and referred to the Committee on Utilities in the House and Senate. The bill requires the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) to provide an annual report on the electric rates of KS public utilities by sector, and those of utilities in surrounding states. The stated purpose is to inform electric policy that would lead to competitive rates. The bill received a hearing in the House Utilities Committee on February 9 and in the Senate Utilities Committee on February 11.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Kansas or 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 on state facilities and lands. The MPSC is currently studying its role in executive order implementation.
The Senate Energy and Technology and the House Energy committees continue to meet, though neither committee has taken up energy efficiency-related legislation at this time.
The MPSC announced two new MI Power Grid work groups: Distributed Energy Resources Rate Design and Customer Education and Participation. The latter will explore how to help all Michiganders access affordable and reliable energy through increasing awareness and adoption of energy waste reduction, demand response and innovative rates. The kickoff meeting for the New Technologies and Business Models work group was held on January 27.
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 are holding a series of stakeholder meetings before the research begins. The most recent meeting was on February 4. Guidehouse recently released its proposed surveys to gather data for the residential sector and commercial sector.
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. Many introduced bills touch on energy policy. The Clean Energy First Act (HF10) and the Energy Conservation and Optimization Act (HF164/SF227) were both discussed at length in 2019 and 2020, but ultimately did not pass. CEFA would require utilities to prioritize clean energy resources, including energy efficiency and load management, before asking the PUC to approve fossil fuel generation. ECO would expand and modernize the state’s Conservation Improvement Program by increasing utilities’ energy savings goals, allowing for beneficial electrification and expanding low-income energy efficiency, among other things. ECO has passed both the House and Senate’s Energy committees and will soon be up for floor discussion.
There are several other energy-related bills. HF70/SF543 would create a $15 million revolving loan fund for state facilities to pay for energy efficiency improvements. HF751 would allow the state’s utilities to submit a report to the PUC demonstrating their efforts and progress on building electrification. Additionally, HF831 would require the state to adopt a more efficient commercial energy building code and continue to update that code until all new commercial buildings are net zero, with a deadline of 2036. Additional proposals would allow the state’s utilities to spend money on natural gas innovations, require the state to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, require utilities to submit annual reports on their workforce and supplier diversity, create a goal for emissions reduction in the state’s existing buildings and establish the Minnesota Innovation Finance Authority to fund clean energy and conservation improvement projects.
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.
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.
Three bills related to Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) were filed. Both HB 697 and HB 814 received a hearing on February 10 and passed the House Financial Institutions Committee on February 17. The bills were referred to the House Administrative Oversight Committee and passed in committee on March 2.
- HB 697 was introduced by representative DeGroot on January 6. The bill adds requirements for submittal and approval of PACE assessment contracts including through expanded regulatory authority of the Division of Finance. The bill also requires approval of PACE loans by lien holders on the property. SB 105, the Senate version of this bill has been voted out of Insurance and Banking Committee and has been placed on the Senate calendar for perfection.
- HB 814 was introduced by Representative O’Donnell on January 13. The bill would add a loan-to-value requirement for residential PACE assessments.
- HB 145, also introduced by Representative DeGroot, has yet to be referred to a committee. The bill shifts assessment collection to city collectors when a county has not joined the PACE program. It also expands regulatory authority of the Division of Finance. The bill has not received a hearing.
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.
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. The legislature recently held a hearing on LB 483, which would direct the University of Nebraska to develop a plan for the state to mitigate coming effects of climate change.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Nebraska or to get more involved, contact Maddie Wazowicz.
There have been five HB 6-related bills introduced in the House during this legislative session. HB 18, HB 57, HB 58, HB 10 and HB 128 all include repeal provisions. 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 18 (Lanese) is a reintroduction of HB 746 (Lanese/Greenspan). HB 57 (Skindell/O’Brien) is a reintroduction of HB 738 (Skindell/O’Brien). Both bills would fully 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 58 (Skindell/Denson) repeals the provisions in HB 6 regarding the Significantly Excessive Earnings Test (“SEET”) but does not restore the other components. There has also been a new energy waste reduction bill, HB 10 (Leland), that would repeal the OVEC decoupling provisions of HB 6 and create “market-based” energy waste reduction programming funded through retail marketers.
Lastly, HB 128 is a partial repeal bill that would eliminate the nuclear bailout but restore solar funding. It passed out of the House Public Utilities committee on March 10th. Its first hearing before the Senate Energy and Public Utilities committee took place on March 23rd.
In the Senate, there has also been a nuclear subsidy repeal bill, SB 44, which would repeal only the nuclear subsidy included in HB 6 while leaving the rest of the law in place, failing to restore the Energy Efficiency Resource Standard. A decoupling bill, SB 10, which aims to repeal the HB 6 decoupling provision and the FirstEnergy Significantly Excessive Earnings Test (“SEET”) provision, was introduced in late January and has since passed the Senate. This bill would also not restore the EERS.
There have also 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. Eligibility for rebates would be limited to non-profits, state agencies and political subdivisions, schools and business with Ohio addresses, and to DC fast chargers for highway corridor and rural charging or level 2 chargers for public, workplace, fleet and multifamily use. The Senate bill has been referred to the Senate Transportation Committee.
There are also several bills that preempt local government authority on energy in Ohio, including HB 192, 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. Proponent testimony on HB 192 and HB 201 was heard on March 24th.
Lastly, there is a new 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. The bill has been referred to the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee.
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 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.
After two lists of candidates from the nominating council, Governor DeWine chose Jenifer French, a former county judge, to be the next PUCO Chair. Governor DeWine noted that she “has no background in the industry, which I think in this unique point in time, is a real asset.”
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 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. AB27/SB47 was introduced to require the state’s IOUs to fund a consumer advocate. This bill passed both the Senate Committee on Utilities, Technology and Telecommunications and the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities.
How to Get Involved
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 facilities, 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.
- Climate Change and the Texas/ERCOT Energy Crisis
- Partnering with Missouri Communities: Roadmap to Resilience
- Is It Over Yet? Energy Efficiency Implications Following a November 2020 Election Season
- Ohio Utilities Move Forward, Face Hurdles with Energy Efficiency
- Midwest Cities Leading the Way with Innovative Climate Action Planning