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
- Webinar Series: Roadmap to Resilience
- State Updates: IL / IN / 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 are either adjourned or 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. Efficiency workforce and programs have been greatly impacted as a result of the economic slowdown and social distancing in late spring that carried into the summer. Utilities and agencies are determining how to resume their energy efficiency programs and in what capacity. Some utilities and agencies are back in-field entirely or have detailed plans to go back in-field. Others are taking a wait-and-see approach and most utilities are emphasizing virtual or remote programs.
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 Series: Roadmap to Resilience
SAVE THE DATE: Wednesday, October 7, 1-2 PM CT (Webinar 1)
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 a webinar series that will cover the facets of this project and feature community leaders and experts in resilience planning. Register 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 previously suspended energy working groups will reconvene into the fall. The four working groups focus on power sector, transportation, equity and commercial/industrial/buildings-related energy efficiency issues. MEEA sits on the commercial/industrial/buildings EE working group that will focus on principle number eight.
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.
The Illinois Commerce Commission approved revised deadlines for the comment period in 20-NOI-01, a Notice of Inquiry containing specific questions for utilities and interested parties to weigh in on energy assistance and energy efficiency programs as they relate to energy affordability.
- September 30: Initial comment deadline
- October 30: Reply comments deadline
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 Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) released its 2020 Report to the 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force (a.k.a. the HEA 1278 Energy Study). The IURC was tasked by the legislature with completing a study of statewide energy transition impacts by House Enrolled Act 1278 (2019). The study includes scenarios that look at the increased adoption of DERs, including EE, by residential and commercial customers in Indiana.
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
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.
The rate study covers 13 topics including cost recovery for infrastructure, electric vehicles, advanced energy solutions, energy markets, resource planning and impact of rates on economic development. Findings showed that high electricity rates have likely contributed to slower economic development relative to peer states. The report recommends that the state determine the desired outcomes of an integrated resource planning process to inform the KCC’s level of prescription in the process, scope and enforcement. It also identifies elements of an IRP that would yield a positive ROI for the planning process; among them is including demand-side resources in screening.
On August 26, Evergy filed 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. Both the Senate Energy and Technology Committee and the House Energy Committee have continued meeting. Much of the focus for the remainder of the legislative session is on balancing the state’s budget.
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. MPSC staff is tasked with writing a report that will combine utility survey responses and stakeholder input in the Energy Waste Reduction Collaborative and Low-Income EWR Work Group meetings. The report, which can be found here, was released on June 15. It provides an update on energy efficiency program continuity and outlines potential next steps for the MPSC, utilities and work groups to take to remain responsive to the challenges of COVID-19. 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 draft report, which can be found here. The final report is expected today, September 30. Comments for the Grid Security & Reliability Standards Work Group draft report were due August 28. 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 fourth special session on September 11, following three special sessions in June, July and August. In the most recent 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) was not 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 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.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Minnesota or to get more involved, contact Maddie Wazowicz.
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.
As described in the Kansas section above, on August 26, Evergy filed 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.
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 ended. With anticipated monthly updates through at least December 2020, the staff’s next report is expected October 15.
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.
On September 28, the procedural schedule in EU-2020-0350, Evergy’s request for an Accounting Authority Order (AAO), was suspended to allow parties to discuss settlement. Evergy will file a status report and advise the Commission on whether a settlement is likely to be reached by October 5. Rebuttal testimony, surrebuttal testimony and position statements were filed as of September 16. On September 9, PSC staff filed the List of Issues, List and Order of Witnesses, Order of Opening Statements and Order of Cross Examination.
On September 15, parties in Spire Gas’ AAO case—a request to track and defer financial impacts due to COVID-19 as a regulatory asset—reached a unanimous stipulation and agreement. The case now awaits review and final order from the Commission.
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 April 9, AEP Ohio filed a motion to set a test period and date for an application to increase its electric distribution rates. On July 23, the Ohio Consumers' Counsel recommended denying AEP’s request for an administrative fee on any non-mandated energy efficiency programs, which the company expressed interest in implementing in testimony. The OCC clarified that their position on the administration fee is in line with PUCO’s decision to strike the shared savings mechanism proposed by Duke (details below), because both are profit for the company for non-mandated programs.
AEP Ohio filed an application to amend their time-of-use rate option for default service customers to generate greater bill savings through energy savings during peak usage. The deadline for reply comments was July 24.
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.
How to Get Involved
Governor Evers’ Task Force on Climate Change has one final meeting scheduled for October 1. The Task Force, chaired by Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, is expected to finalize policy recommendations proposed by the three task force subcommittees. The final report will consist of policy recommendations and pathways to achieve them. It is expected by October 31.
The Wisconsin legislature has adjourned for the year. Committees may continue to meet in the coming months.
How to Get Involved
For more information about Wisconsin or to get more involved, contact Nick Dreher.
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.
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)
On May 15, the House passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES) Act. Among other provisions, the bill would increase low-income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP) funding to $1.5 billion through 2021, expand the Payment Protection Program and supply another $1,200 direct payment to eligible individuals. The bill has not been called to a vote in the Senate.
How to Get Involved
For more information about how this federal activity will impact the region or to get more involved, contact Nick Dreher.
- Missed Opportunities: Lowering Deferral Rates on Efficiency Programs
- Assessing COVID-19's Impact: How Will the EE Workforce Bounce Back?
- Federal Relief for Small Businesses
- How to Pursue Industrial Efficiency in a Changing Policy Environment
Recent Fact Sheets