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 / OH / WI
- Federal Update
- New Resources & Blog Posts
States are resuming economic activity, focusing efforts to address the financial impacts of the pandemic and encouraging or requiring safety measures against the spread of COVID-19. Legislative sessions have either adjourned, are in special session or are convening on a limited basis. Some state public service commissions have opened cases to understand and address the financial impacts to customers and/or utilities. The efficiency workforce and programs were greatly impacted as a result of 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.
MEEA is tracking impacts, program adaptation 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 NSPM for DERs – An Updated Resource for Benefit-Cost Analysis in the Midwest
Thursday, October 29 | 2 – 3:30 p.m. CST
Join MEEA as we look at the changes and additions to the National Standard Practice Manual for Benefit-Cost Analysis of Distributed Energy Resources (NSPM for DERs). The new NSPM updates the framework for examining benefit-cost analysis from the previous edition to cover a broad range of DERs including energy efficiency, demand response, distributed generation, distributed storage and electrification. It will help states develop common methods for benefit-cost analysis across all of their DERs to guide regulatory understanding and resource acquisition decisions.
We will be joined by co-authors of the NSPM and representatives from three Midwest states for a 90-minute exploration of what it can do for the Midwest. Register here.
Webinar Series: Roadmap to Resilience
Webinar 3: Wednesday, November 4 | 1 – 2 p.m. CST
The Roadmap to Resilience is a toolkit with action steps developed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources – Division of Energy to assist small cities and towns across the Midwest and country in their resilience planning efforts. Join the Missouri Division of Energy and MEEA for the third webinar in this series, which will focus on identifying funding sources, utilizing federal and national lab resources and measuring the success of a resilience plan. Register here and see the recordings and slides from previous 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 issues the Governor would like to pursue.
The Governor’s office also announced the resumption of previously suspended energy working groups focusing on the power sector, transportation, equity and commercial/industrial/buildings-related energy efficiency issues. MEEA attended all three commercial/industrial/buildings EE working group meetings (October 13, 20 and 22), which focused on principle number eight. The power sector, transportation and equity working groups also met over the past several weeks.
Illinois’ legislative session adjourned on May 31. The legislature may reconvene for fall special session, November 17-19 and December 1-3, where clean energy legislation may be considered. A newly modified version of the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA), previously introduced as SB 2132 / HB 3624, is now publicly available here on the Illinois Clean Job Coalition website.
The Illinois Commerce Commission recently 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 are due October 30. MEEA’s response to the NOI can be found here.
On August 20, the ICC issued a Transportation Electrification Rate Design and Affordability Notice of Inquiry 20-NOI-03 to explore electric rate designs related to adoption of EVs and supporting infrastructure, as well as other forms of beneficial electrification, electric service and affordability. Initial comments are due November 16.
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.
The 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force has resumed meeting. The schedule and agendas, when available, are found on the legislature website. There are four meetings remaining until the Task Force is required to submit their report to the General Assembly.
Integrated resource planning is ongoing for Indiana utilities. The utility filing deadline for the next IRP is:
- NIPSCO: 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
An Energy Efficiency Stakeholder Meeting is scheduled for November 5, 9AM- 12 PM CT. Alliant Energy, MidAmerican Energy and Black Hills Energy will provide an overview of their respective 2019 annual reports, 2020 program performance and a preview for 2021.
How to Get Involved
If you are interested in joining this stakeholder meeting, reach out to Sheila Parker, email@example.com. If you have any questions about Iowa or want to get more involved, contact Samarth Medakkar.
On September 28, AECOM re-filed the second part of a Kansas electricity rate study directed by the Kansas Legislature via SSB 69 in Docket No. 20-GIME-068-GIE. Following their initial filing in July, the Commission issued an order requiring a new public version of the study including justifications of redacted language.
On August 5, Evergy announced their Sustainability Transformation Plan, a strategic five-year (2020-2024) plan designed to deliver additional benefits to stakeholders following the merger which created the company. The plan identifies $1.4 billion in capital investments through 2024 and includes a long-term energy plan in which they set a target for an 85% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 (from 2005 levels). They note expansion of energy efficiency programs and demand-side resources as contributing to this long-term energy plan, while lowering long-term energy costs. They also express their intention to propose adjustments to the Kansas Energy Efficiency Investment Act and offer programs.
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 in state facilities and lands.
Michigan’s legislature continues to meet, with session dates scheduled in October and November. Recently, four Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) bills were introduced. While PACE is statutorily allowed in Michigan, HB 6036 and 6037 would expand measures allowed under commercial PACE and would enable PACE to be used by residential customers. In addition, HB 6038 would let customers pair PACE with funds available through the Water Pollution Control Act to implement water measures. Lastly, HB 6039 would let customers use PACE funds for environmental hazard projects.
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. On July 23, 2020, the Commission issued an order describing utility information, impact analysis and recommendations. In this order, the MPSC said they will not consider recovery costs related to COVID-19 until 2021. In addition, the Commission expressed interest in better linking existing EWR programs and energy assistance to reach more customers who are struggling with energy affordability.
MI Power Grid work groups continue to meet. The Energy Programs and Technology Pilots Work group submitted its final report on September 30. The Grid Security & Reliability Standards Work Group submitted its draft report and is aiming to publish the final report in December. Lastly, MI Power Grid announced the newly-formed New Technologies and Business Models Work Group.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Michigan or to get more involved, contact Maddie Wazowicz.
The Minnesota legislature convened for a fifth special session on October 12, following four special sessions in June, July, August and September. Much of the focus of this special session will be on the state’s bonding package. In the September special session, the Commissioner for the Department of Commerce, Steve Kelley, was removed by a majority vote in the Senate. The Department of Commerce oversees energy efficiency in Minnesota, as the Conservation Improvement Plan is under the oversight of the DOC. In the August special session, Nancy Leppink, Commissioner of Labor and Industry, was also voted out of office by the Senate. The Department of Labor and Industry oversees the state’s adoption of building energy codes.
The Energy Conservation and Optimization Act (ECO) has not been heard in any of these special sessions, as much of the legislature’s attention was on police reform, public safety and COVID-19.
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), but 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 state’s investor-owned utilities submitted their Conservation Improvement Program triennial plans on July 1. These plans outline the utilities’ proposed energy efficiency portfolio for 2021-2023. The CIP plans provide program-level detail, outlining each energy efficiency program’s proposed budget, targeted customer class and estimated energy savings. PUC staff issued their recommendations on September 28, and a final PUC decision is expected in November.
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. Comments for these COVID response dockets will be due in October.
Additionally, the PUC has scheduled 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.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Minnesota or to get more involved, contact Maddie Wazowicz.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has initiated a Missouri 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 will begin with a Virtual Energy Stakeholder Kickoff Workshop on October 29. Interested stakeholders are encouraged to participate.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources issued a request for information (RFI) on financing needs for the state’s energy infrastructure. Specifically, the questions seek to understand the financing needs and gaps of underserved sectors, as well as sources that could address the gaps and projects that could be funded if gaps are addressed. MoDNR requests responses be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by November 19, 2020.
On October 21, the Commission issued an order approving a stipulation in Spire Gas’ Accounting Authority Order (AAO) case (requesting to track and defer financial impacts due to COVID-19 as a regulatory asset).
Hearing dates in EU-2020-0350, Evergy’s request for an AAO, are expected later this month.
On September 27, Ameren Missouri filed their 2020 Integrated Resource Plan in which they establish a net-zero carbon emissions goal by 2050. Their forecasting incorporates various levels of achievable potential savings from demand side programs, including those from MEEIA programs. Deadline to intervene is October 30. The IRP report is due by March 1, 2021.
As described in the Kansas section above, on August 5, Evergy announced their Sustainability Transformation Plan, a strategic five-year (2020-2024) plan designed to deliver additional benefits to stakeholders following the merger which created the company. They also express their intention to propose adjustments to offer programs similar to those under the Missouri Energy Efficiency Investment Act. On August 13, the PSC opened an investigatory docket to determine if the plan will raise rates or diminish the quality of service. A report from staff is expected by November 13.
In working case AW-2020-0356, the PSC staff filed their initial findings report on Utility Data Request Responses—various data related to disconnections—ordered by the Commission to address reports that warn of a wave of utility disconnections after voluntary suspension of bill collection ends. With anticipated monthly updates through at least December 2020, the staff’s next report is expected late October.
The PSC staff filed their report summarizing the findings and comments in working case AW-2020-0356 regarding best practices for recovery of past-due utility customer payments resulting from the pandemic. Ameren, Evergy, Liberty, Spire and Summit as well as the Office of Public Counsel submitted responses to the findings in this report.
How to Get Involved
There are currently three bills in the legislature that would repeal HB 6—the 2019 law that directed funding to extend coal and nuclear plant viability and repealed the energy efficiency and renewable energy resource standards—and revive the previous energy efficiency standard for utilities. House Democrats introduced HB 738 and House Republicans introduced HB 746. Bipartisan bill SB 346 was introduced in the Senate. All 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.
There have been two hearings in the House Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight on the status of HB 6. 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 significantly excessive earnings determination for an electric distribution utility’s electric security plan. Rep. Lanese, Rep. Greenspan and Mr. Ralph Clark of the Ohio Legislative Service Commission all submitted testimony.
The second hearing on the potential repeal of HB 6 was held September 16th and featured testimony from Evelyn Robinson of PJM and Chairman Samuel Randazzo of PUCO.
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. On June 17, the Commission struck the shared savings provision in the proposal, citing the intent of HB 6 to terminate mandated energy savings programs in favor of market-based approaches and that the purpose of shared savings is instead to incentivize overachieving energy savings (which are no longer mandated). On June 26, Duke withdrew this application for efficiency programs in 2021. However, on October 9, Duke re-submitted an application for energy efficiency and demand-side management programs; the status and details of the docket can be found here.
How to Get Involved
Governor Evers’ Task Force on Climate Change, chaired by Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, is drafting its final report of policy recommendations proposed by the three task force subcommittees. It is expected by October 31. MEEA’s comments to the Energy, Housing and Infrastructure subcommittee can be found here.
The Wisconsin legislature has adjourned for the year. Committees may continue to meet in the coming months.
How to Get Involved
On September 25, the House passed a 900-page energy bill—the Clean Energy Jobs and Innovation Act (H.R. 4447)—which includes much of the “Portman-Shaheen” energy efficiency bill that has been pending in Congress for several years. Among other efficiency pieces, the bill would expand funding authorizations for the Weatherization Assistance Program and authorize funding for a new public private partnership program for retrofitting critical public facilities. On October 19, H.R. 4447 was referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Simultaneous to the House push for H.R. 4447, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee leaders are pursuing the bipartisan American Energy Innovation Act (S. 2657), which includes a number of similar provisions to those in H.R. 4447. The effort to quickly pass S.2657, led by Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), may pave the way for informal conference negotiations in the fall, where the House and Senate would attempt to reconcile differences between H.R. 4447 and S. 2657 and agree on a final package. If negotiations are successful, a final bill could be sent to the President in the lame duck session following the election. (Alliance to Save Energy)
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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