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:
- Policy Insider Turns 100
- MEEA Policy Steering Committee
- State Updates: IL / IN / IA / KS / KY / MI / MN / MO / NE / OH / WI
- Federal Update
- New Resources & Blog Posts
Policy Insider Turns 100
That’s right – October 2023 is the 100th edition of the Policy Insider! What began as a way to share MEEA’s policy content with members has evolved into an integral component of our general Policy work.
Review the top policy developments in the Midwest that we’ve shared over the years in this new blog post. And thanks for reading the Insider!
MEEA Policy Steering Committee
Are you interested in learning more about energy efficiency policy and getting involved in MEEA’s policy work? Join the Policy Steering Committee! You will attend and engage in our quarterly meetings, with a direct line to our staff policy experts.
Please reach out to Policy Associate Christian Koch with your interest or questions.
Last week, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson unveiled his proposed 2024 city budget recommendations, which includes nearly $2 million in funding to re-establish Chicago’s Department of Environment, $15 million for the electrification of low-income residential homes and $4 million for Chicago’s Climate Infrastructure Grant Program.
The Illinois Legislature will hold six days of veto sessions on October 24-26 and November 7-9, before closing out the session for 2023. In August, Governor Pritzker issued a small series of legislative vetoes, including an amendatory veto of HB 3445, a broad energy bill that would permit the installation of distributed energy generation at public schools and require the Illinois Power Agency (IPA) to conduct policy studies on energy storage, offshore wind and underground transmission. More controversially, HB 3445 also granted downstate utilities a “right of first refusal” (ROFR) for the construction of new transmission lines. Consequently, Governor Pritzker’s amendatory veto struck only the portion of HB 3445 that would have granted this ROFR. It is expected that the Governor’s amendatory veto will stand, and the bill will pass in the legislature without reference to ROFRs, though proponents of ROFRs are expected to push the issue again during the 2024 legislative session.
On October 17, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) again postponed its vote to update Illinois’ state building codes to the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) - either the full unamended version or an amended version. The postposed vote is expected to take place during its next monthly meeting on November 7. Should the JCAR not adopt the full 2021 IECC in place of the state’s current 2018 IECC, Illinois will lose access to millions of dollars in IRA funding that could be used to implement updated state building codes.
On October 18, the Illinois Energy Efficiency Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) released Final Consensus Policy documents for updated versions of its Energy Efficiency Policy Manual (Version 3.0) and Technical Reference Manual (Version 4.0). These manuals are the final products of over 14 months of workshops and negotiations between various energy and regulatory stakeholders. After the Policy Manual Subcommittee completes its review of these manuals for edit-related errors only, Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) staff will file a Staff Report with the Commission, requesting a docket be opened to formally approve the Consensus Policy documents.
Following the final installment of its Equitable Energy Upgrade Program (EEUP) workshop series on October 13, ICC staff concluded that because a designated Program Administrator (PA) is not required by law nor under the Pay As You Save (PAYS)® model, the establishment of a PA cannot be implemented through the EEUP rulemaking process. Despite many workshops focused on the development, responsibilities and procedures carried out by a PA, it will remain unclear which policies will be included in the final EEUP ruling and which policies will need to be addressed outside of this formal process, until the final EEUP rule is released. Though there is no clear timeline, ICC staff believe that the final EEUP rule will be released after the ICC undergoes briefings of its major cases.
On October 12, Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced $21 million in funding for CEJA Contractor Incubator Hubs with the goal of empowering small clean energy businesses to help in the state’s efforts to achieve 100% clean energy by 2050. This funding will help establish a network of 13 community-based hubs across the state that will offer services designed to assist clean energy contractors and small businesses. The locations of the Hubs have been strategically chosen to bolster workforce needs and empower underserved areas. The Hubs will be located in Alton, Aurora, Carbondale, Champaign, Chicago (South Side and West Side), Danville, Decatur, East St. Louis, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford and Waukegan. Qualified community-based entities located in these 13 priority areas have until December 11 to apply for award funding through the CEJA Contractor Incubator Hubs program.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Illinois or to get more involved, contact Christian Koch.
The Indiana legislature has adjourned Sine Die. The Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications Interim Study Committee met on September 14, with discussions centered on annual industry reports and reliability forecasts and nuclear feasibility studies.
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) hosted the 2023 IRP Contemporary Issues Technical Conference on October 20. Email Beth Heline to be added to the distribution list for updates.
2023 Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs) are expected from:
- Investor-owned utilities
- Publicly-owned utilities – expected filing date November 1.
- Hoosier Energy
- Indiana Municipal Power Agency (IMPA)
- Wabash Valley
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.
The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) has hired an independent consultant to guide the review process required by HF 617, which was enacted into law earlier this year. This legislation requires the IUB to lead an independent review (identified as docket NOI-2023-0001) of current Iowa Code provisions and utility ratemaking procedures. The goal is to evaluate cost-effectiveness and ensure utility services are safe, adequate, reliable and affordable.
As part of this process, the IUB is holding policy charrettes and offering the opportunity to submit comments before and after each charrette. MEEA submitted comments prior to both the first charette (available here) and second charette (available here).
The last set of charrettes are scheduled to take place on November 1 and 2. For more details, please click here.
Iowa investor-owned utilities’ Energy Efficiency Portfolio (EEP) planning processes are currently underway, with IOUs filing their new five-year plans (2024-2028). The IUB has set procedural schedules and public hearings for all IOUs.
- Interstate Power and Light (IPL) Company, a subsidiary of Alliant Energy, filed its plan on November 1, 2022, in docket EEP-2022-0150. A public hearing took place on June 8, 2023, and a transcript of the hearing can be found here. On October 18, the IUB found IPL’s methodology for calculating the interruptible credit and the credit amount itself to be reasonable, thus affirming the proposed decision regarding interruptible credits.
- MidAmerican Energy filed its plan on February 1 in docket EEP-2022-0156. Although a public hearing had been slated for August 24, all parties reached a consensus that a hearing was unnecessary. Iowa’s OCA filed a reply brief urging the IUB to accept MidAmerican Energy’s non-residential year-round curtailment credit of $60/kW.
- Black Hills Energy filed its plan on March 31 in docket EEP-2022-0225. The public hearing scheduled for October 25 was canceled, and the remaining procedural schedule has been suspended.
To be added to the EPP stakeholder list and receive updates and meeting information, please email Jennifer Easler.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Iowa or to get more involved, contact Arlinda Bajrami.
On September 1, the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) delivered an order approving Evergy’s Kansas Energy Efficiency Investment Act (KEEIA) plan filing, which confirmed the utility’s 2023-2026 Demand-Side Management (DSM) Portfolio and associated cost recovery mechanisms. Commissioners approved the “Initial Program Settlement” and “Initial Financial Settlement” with certain modifications and conditions, rather than the more recently discussed and less robust “Alternative Settlement.” For a more detailed look at the order and approved programs, read our recent blog post.
The application was initially filed in December 2021, with the proposal including nine programs — four residential, four business and one pilot research program. The full docket can be found here.
The update to Evergy’s Five Year Capital Investment Plan (CIP) was filed under docket 19-KCPE-096-CPL. Evergy released its CIP for Kansas Central and Kansas Metro regions in February 2023 and its 2023 Integrated Resource Plan annual update in June 2023. After months of proceedings and comments, KCC staff released their initial Report and Recommendations on July 10. Staff published additional comments on August 31, recommending the Commission find that the 2023 IRP Filing meets the required framework. Evergy published its response to recent comments by Staff and interveners on October 2, notably responding to Staff’s recommendation on the increasing importance of energy efficiency measures as electrification activities increase.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Kansas or to get more involved, contact Natalie Newman.
The 2023 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly has adjourned Sine Die. The Interim Committee on Natural Resources and Energy met again in August and will continue to do so monthly through November, per previous schedules. The August meeting included discussion of the energy transition happening in PJM territory.
LG&E and KU, including its subsidiary ODP, are hosting a series of Demand-Side Management (DSM) Advisory Group meetings. These are intended to provide a platform for stakeholders to discuss EE and DSM initiatives for existing and new program offerings. Additional details, previous meeting notes and contact information for participating in the group can be found here.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Kentucky or to get more involved, contact Greg Ehrendreich.
Senate Democrats continue to work on their energy package. New substitute versions have been released for SB271, SB273 and SB502. These three bills were heard by the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment on October 25. After voting these bills out of Committee, the bills hit the Senate floor on October 26.
- SB271 (Sen. Geiss) - amends the state’s renewable standard by mandating that electric utilities reach 100% renewable generation by 2035.
- The substitute version of this bill adjusts definitions and timelines, requiring electric utilities to reach 60% renewable generation by 2035 and 100% clean by 2040.
- SB272 (Sen. Shink) - expands the purview of the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) by allowing commissioners to consider climate, health, equity and affordability when analyzing utility plans.
- SB502 has been substituted for SB272. This was mainly a technical change. SB272 amended only one section of code, whereas SB502 amends several sections.
- SB273 (Sen. Singh) - expands the existing energy waste reduction (EWR) framework by adding municipal and cooperative utilities back into the EWR standard and mandating that electric utilities now reach 2% in annual savings.
- The substitute version lowers the mandate for electric utilities to 1.5%, with an incentive structure to encourage utilities to reach 2.17%. The revised bill enables utilities to run efficient electrification programs, includes mandated levels of spending on low-income EWR programs and increases the gas EWR standard to .875%, with incentives to encourage savings of 1.25%.
The original Senate Democrats’ energy package also included the following four bills:
- SB274 (Sen. Shink) - requires the development of a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings.
- SB275 (Sen. Singh) - establishes a standard to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels.
- SB276 (Sen. Bayer) - requires utilities to retire coal-fired generation by preventing them from including the resource in their integrated resource planning process.
- SB277 (Sen. McDonald Rivet) - allows farmers to lease land for solar energy production. This bill has passed the Senate and has been assigned to Committee in the House.
The House also has an energy package. Much of the attention has been on the Senate versions, as that chamber is moving more quickly to advance their bills. The House package includes the following three bills:
- HB4759 (Rep. Coffia) - amends the state’s renewable standard by mandating that electric utilities reach 60% renewable generation by 2030 and 100% carbon-free generation by 2035, excluding hydrogen, nuclear and some other resources.
- HB4760 (Rep. Pohutsky) - expands the purview of the MPSC by allowing commissioners to consider climate, health, equity and affordability when analyzing utility plans.
- HB4761 (Rep. Aiyash) - expands the existing EWR framework by mandating that electric utilities now reach 2.0% in annual savings and natural gas utilities reach 1.5%. The bill also amends EWR filing timelines, prioritizes EWR programs for low-income customers and legalizes electrification within the EWR program.
The MPSC has directed Commission Staff to convene a two-day technical conference on electric vehicle issues. The conference is scheduled for January 24-25 and is set to explore a variety of issues, including managed charging to lessen grid strain, utility charging pilots and programs and the role of utilities in expanding the state’s charging network. More information can be found in Docket U-21492.
Expanding on previous work in the MI Power Grid collaborative, the MPSC has directed Staff to launch a collaborative tasked with developing a new platform for benefit cost analysis that utilities will use for pilot projects going forward. The goal is to increase transparency by demonstrating what inputs, outputs and equity considerations go into determining pilot cost-effectiveness. More information can be found in Docket U-20898.
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.
DTE filed its 2024-25 EWR plan in Docket U-21322. DTE sets a target of 2.00% annual electric savings and 1.05% annual gas savings, planning to spend $197.9 million in 2024 and $209.4 million in 2025 on the electric side and $50.6 million in 2024 and $50.7 million in 2025 on the gas side.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Michigan or to get more involved, contact Maddie Wazowicz.
The state’s investor-owned utilities have submitted their triennial Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) plans. Plans 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
Staff’s proposed decisions were issued on October 23, with comments on these proposals due November 6. The Deputy Commissioner’s final decisions on the plans are now expected December 1.
The Public Utilities Commission continues its work, requesting comments 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 PUC has revised its initial commenting notice and is now asking for comments on an October 24 filing from the Citizens Utility Board. Comments are due November 30, with reply comments due December 29.
CenterPoint has submitted its first Natural Gas Innovation Plan in docket 21-566. The plan details proposed pilots, research and development programs, budgets, energy savings, job impacts and more. Xcel has announced a stakeholder meeting to begin discussing its first Natural Gas Innovation Plan. The initial workshop was on October 11, with additional workshops likely this winter. More information can be found in docket 21-566.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Minnesota or to get more involved, contact Maddie Wazowicz.
Missouri’s triennial Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) process was initiated, with Ameren Missouri releasing their 20-year IRP in late September. The deadline to intervene in Ameren’s IRP process was October 30 and the proceedings can be monitored at docket EO-2024-0020. Commission Staff and other interveners must file reports on the filing by February 28, 2024.
On September 27, the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) approved Evergy’s request to change customers’ default plan under the state’s new time-of-use (TOU) rates in docket ET-2024-0061. The new rates go into effect in Evergy territory starting in October, and the new default plan has a smaller difference between peak and off-peak rates. Evergy withdrew its previous request to make the TOU rates optional on September 18.
On August 23, the PSC approved the Plan Year 2024 Stipulation for Ameren Missouri’s Missouri Energy Efficiency Investment Act (MEEIA) Cycle 3 extension in an order, which took effect on September 2. The Stipulation and Settlement to extend Ameren’s current MEEIA 3 Plan into 2024 was filed in docket EO-2018-0211 on August 3. The parties filed a Joint Status Report and Joint Motion to Adopt Procedural Schedule in docket EO-2023-0136, which the Commission approved in an order adopting the updated procedural schedule on October 4. The amended MEEIA 4 Plan Application date is set for January 16, 2024.
It is expected that Evergy Missouri will also apply to extend their current Plan, with proceedings presumed to begin shortly. Evergy previously filed its MEEIA 3 Plan in docket EO-2019-0132 and most recently submitted its updated Evaluation, Measurement, and Verification (EM&V) Report on September 13.
Through Evergy’s previous MEEIA Plan extension, they agreed to conduct a feasibility and vulnerability study regarding an Urban Heat Island Mitigation program for its next MEEIA application. Evergy has now contracted the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) and other experts on program design. 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. The work group most recently met on October 24 to discuss the pilot program and specific community engagement plans, as well as examples of other UHI mitigation programs. Please reach out to Ryan Umberger at MARC if you are interested in getting involved in the work group.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Missouri or to get more involved, contact Natalie Newman.
Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD), Nebraska’s largest electric utility, received approval for their updated IRP from their board and the Western Area Power Administration on September 14. You can view NPPD’s 2023 IRP here.
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 will engage extensively with various interested parties and the public over the next two years. To participate in a stakeholder workgroup and assist with the program, contact NDEE at NDEE.email@example.com or visit their website.
Additionally, on August 29, the City of Omaha accepted a $1 million grant through the CPRG program to support the city’s climate action, resilience and mitigation plan. For more information on the CPRG program, visit EPA's website.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Nebraska or to get more involved, contact Arlinda Bajrami.
Energy efficiency bill HB79 would allow utilities to establish limited voluntary EE programs. The fourth hearing on the bill was held on June 21, with both proponent and opponent testimony, and the bill was passed out of committee. Observers expected the bill to be put on the House floor for a vote in mid-October, but as of October 25, the bill has not been called.
Maureen Willis, acting legal director of the Ohio Office of Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) has been tapped to succeed Bruce Weston as the head of that agency. She has been at the OCC since 1982. She assumed her new role on October 1.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) granted an application for rehearing in the Columbia Gas of Ohio rate case for the limited purpose of further consideration. However, the stipulated agreement was previously modified and approved, cutting all energy efficiency except for $14 million for low-income energy efficiency programs. The case is ongoing.
AEP Ohio filed an energy efficiency plan as part of its Standard Service Offer approval in 23-0023-EL-SSO. The energy efficiency plan was negotiated away in the settlement agreement, which retains only $12M for low-income weatherization.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Ohio or to get more involved, contact Greg Ehrendreich.
The Senate Committee on Utilities and Technology held a hearing to consider the appointments of Public Service Commissioners Summer Strand and Tyler Huebner. On October 6, the Committee voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Commissioner Strand, sending the appointment to the floor for a full Senate vote. Commissioner Huebner’s appointment is still being considered by the Committee.
Little legislation related to energy has been introduced to date, but three bills preventing the restriction of fuel sources passed both chambers and were subsequently vetoed by Governor Evers on August 4.
- SB49/AB45 would bar municipalities from restricting certain fuel types, effectively preventing jurisdictions from banning the use or installation of natural gas infrastructure.
- SB212/AB142 would prevent state agencies or local governments from restricting the sale or use of motor vehicles based on the energy source used to power the motor vehicle.
- SB213/AB141 would restrict state agencies or local governments from restricting the sale or use of devices based on the energy source used to power the device.
On September 14, the Senate overrode the veto of SB49/AB45. The bill now goes to the Assembly where the chamber will also vote to override the veto. It is unclear if the Legislature will attempt to override the vetoes of the other two bills.
The Public Service Commission issued a memo on cost-effectiveness options for the Focus on Energy Quadrennial IV Plan. The memo covers options on the starting point market-based carbon value, the market-based carbon value escalation rate and a low-income benefits adder. Comments on the memo were due by September 11, with a decision from the Commission anticipated soon. MEEA submitted comments, which are available here. Additional memos are expected in this docket to resolve other details related to the Quad Plan.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Wisconsin or to get more involved, contact Maddie Wazowicz.
On September 30, President Biden signed a continuing resolution to fund the federal government at existing levels for 45 days, through November 17. The intent was to allow the House time to finish consideration of the series of 12 annual appropriations bills; the Senate completed its consideration of the 12 bills some time ago, with bipartisan support. However, the House lost three weeks of legislative time to the process of removing former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and attempting to elect a new speaker. With the election of Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson as Speaker on October 25, the House will be able to return to business, but it is unclear if it can bring the regular appropriation bills to conclusion before the November 17 deadline. If not, the federal government would shut down, except for critical functions. Passage of a new continuing resolution may kick the deadline farther into the future, however.
Earlier work on FY 2024 appropriation bills highlighted significant differences between energy efficiency funding levels proposed by the Democratic-controlled Senate and GOP-controlled House.
Federal agencies continue to roll out programs funded under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
On October 11, the winners of the Buildings Upgrade Prize (Buildings UP) were announced, offering more than $22 million in cash prizes and technical assistance nationwide. This prize is designed to assist teams in transforming existing U.S. buildings into more energy-efficient and clean energy-ready homes, commercial spaces and communities. A total of 45 teams were selected as Buildings UP Phase 1 winners, and they will advance to Phase 2 with potential funding of up to $400,000 each. MEEA has joined forces with its five fellow Regional Energy Efficiency Organizations (REEOs) to serve as Regional Navigators providing technical assistance to the winning teams. To learn more about this opportunity and the winning teams, please visit the DOE’s website.
The US Department of Energy has released updated guidance to states and territories on how to design and implement the Home Efficiency Rebates and the Home Electrification and Appliance Rebates programs created by the Inflation Reduction Act. Most significantly, the guidance directs that states must allow retroactive rebates for the Home Efficiency program for projects started on or after the passage of the IRA on August 16, 2022. The Home Electrification program does not allow retroactive rebates, however. In addition, DOE has begun approving states’ applications for early administrative funds to help set up state programs for disbursement of the home energy rebates, with some states already receiving the funds.
On September 20, the Biden Administration opened competition for the Climate Pollution Reduction Grant program’s competitive funding, with $4.6 billion made available by the EPA 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. The CPRG competitive grants will be awarded in two separate programs, a “general” competition for states and metro areas, and a separate competition for Tribes and territories, with deadlines of April 1, 2024, and May 1, 2024, respectively. Awards are expected to be announced for the general competition in Fall 2024 and for the Tribes/territories competition in Winter 2024-25. US EPA has emphasized that it will prioritize awards for “measures that achieve the greatest amount of GHG reductions.”
The DOE extended the deadline for state energy offices to apply for the 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.
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, contact Jason Liechty.
- Ohio State Fact Sheet
- Non-Energy Impacts of Energy Efficiency Fact Sheet
- Integrated Resource Planning Fact Sheet
- White Paper: Assessment of Combined Heat and Power Systems in the Midwest’s Top Manufacturing Industries
- White Paper: It's Getting Hot in Here: A Roadmap for Stakeholder Involvement in Urban Heat Island Mitigation
- Looking Back on 100 Issues of the Policy Insider
- Lessons Learned from 2023 MES Scholarship Winners
- Energy Efficiency Gets a Jumpstart in Kansas
- A Breakdown of the New Minneapolis Climate Equity Plan
- Urban Heat Islands and the Opportunity for Prevention