The Policy Tracker: August 2016

With summer in full swing and the mercury rising almost as high as system loads, now is the perfect time for a brief review of the latest in energy efficiency policies and proceedings throughout the region. We’re closely monitoring New York’s CEAC processes, while also keeping an eye on key regulatory proceedings in Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont with the potential for major impacts on energy efficiency in the region. Read on for more.

New York – The New York Public Service Commission hosted several influential orders and filings during early summer 2016. Most importantly, the Commission issued its long-awaited Order Adopting a Ratemaking and Utility Revenue Model Policy Framework. Based on its proposed framework, the Commission has directed the utilities to propose specific earnings adjustment mechanisms and value-added services in their next rate cases. For more information, review NEEP’s Issue Brief summarizing the order. Additionally, ConEdison, Orange & Rockland, Niagara Mohawk, NYSEG/RGE, Central Hudson issued their distributed system implementation plans, which include an overall summary of various tenets of the NY REV proceeding, including planned non-wire alternatives projects, investments in advanced distribution system automation, and the widespread rollout of advanced metering infrastructure (et al.). Comments on the Distribution System Implementation Plans (DSIPs) are due September 12. A supplemental DSIP, developed jointly by all utilities, remains pending November 1. Outside of the Public Service Commission, New York’s Clean Energy Advisory Council (CEAC) and its working groups are beginning to flesh out the details of various sub-topics, including energy efficiency best practices. For more information on the CEAC process, review NEEP’s Issue Brief summarizing the working groups, key deliverables, and participants. Key amongst those deliverables is a report from the Efficiency Procurement and Markets working group that will set targets for energy efficiency savings. The report is due to the CEAC to the steering committee by December 22.

Maryland – In late May, the Maryland Public Service Commission issued a final order on its Semi-Annual EmPOWER Maryland program hearings, voting to approve funding expansion requests in compliance with last summer’s order directing program administrators to target savings at two percent of retail sales. Most notably, the Commission declined to set any of the targets recommended by its natural gas working group, while at the same time noting that that it will “[L]look forward to the review of cost-effective and appropriate proposals by natural gas companies consistent with the planning and review processes currently utilized by the EmPOWER Utilities today.” The Commission also agreed to the inclusion of non-ENERGY STAR® LEDs within residential programs until the program cycle ends in 2017. Finally, the Commission directed staff to convene a marketing work group “[F]or purposes of assessing opportunities to enhance the transparency of EmPOWER billing, benefits reporting, and marketing activities,” with an assessment due to the Commission by September 15. Shortly after the order, Governor Hogan nominated Anthony O’Donnell as his third appointment to the five-member Public Service Commission.

Vermont – Regulators in Vermont issued a final order in its Renewable Energy Standard (RES) proceeding, which provides detail for how the distribution utilities may satisfy their energy transformation project portfolio requirements (et al). NEEP published an issue brief on the order, which is available here. Outside the RES proceeding, we’re also following the Public Service Board’s Docket 8488, which covers recommendations regarding energy data aggregation, access, and transfer; a workshop in this docket covering the initial working group recommendations has been planned for September 16.

Massachusetts – At the end of May, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities issued an interlocutory order regarding the scope of the Commonwealth’s Grid Modernization proceeding. It found that rate design and time varying rates were outside the scope of the grid modernization proceeding, but left the door open to consideration in subsequent proceedings. It is unclear how this determination will affect the cost-effectiveness of proposed advanced metering infrastructure investments. The Department of Energy Resources (DOER) also issued a major update to its Alternative Portfolio Standard Regulations, which, once finalized, will allow renewable thermal projects such as air source heat pump installations to satisfy the distribution utilities’ alternative portfolio standard requirements. The Commonwealth also passed a major piece of energy legislation during the last day of the session, requiring utilities to procurement large-scale wind and hydroelectric resources, enabling the DOER to set targets for energy storage deployment, and legislatively enabling a commercial property assessed clean energy (C-PACE) program.

New Hampshire – In early August, the New Hampshire Public Utility Commission issued a long-awaited order establishing an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS). The order adopted the April settlement agreement unaltered, funding savings at 1.3 percent of retail sales by 2020. Additionally, in early July, the Commission issued an order approving the final settlement agreement considering divestiture of Eversource New Hampshire’s generating facilities. Supplementing an earlier commitment by Eversource’s subsidiary Northern Pass to commit $20 million to clean energy innovation, the settlement agreement mandates that Eversource commit $5 million to a clean energy fund. The Commission’s grid modernization working group is in the midst of a summer hiatus.

Maine – In early July, the Maine Public Utility Commission issued an order approving a stipulation agreement provided by the parties. The agreement targets electric savings between 2.1 and 2.5 percent of retail sales, positioning Maine’s statewide energy efficiency programs as one of the top three in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region.

Delaware – The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC)’s Proposed EM&V Regulations remain pending finalization, with a public hearing tentatively planned for late August.

Connecticut – Following a recent comment solicitation regarding the scope of Connecticut’s State Energy Plan, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is set to issue a draft state energy plan for comment in early fall. Also pending are revisions to the 2016-18 Conservation and Load Management plan for 2017, as well as the state’s cost-effectiveness screening protocols.

Rhode Island – The Rhode Island Public Utility Commission’s Docket 4600 is continuing its forward momentum, with the state’s distribution utility having filed a draft cost-benefit framework for discussion in future working group meetings. Rhode Island’s stakeholder energy efficiency council (EERMC) remains in the process of developing targets for the state’s 2018-20 Least Cost Procurement Plan, with a first draft of plan due to the EERMC by September.

New Jersey – The Office of Clean Energy issued a request for comment on a proposed FY17 Draft Comprehensive Resource Analysis (CRA) and Budget, as well as compliance filings of the varying program administrators. Notable within these filings is an embrace of non-ENERGY STAR® LEDs. In late June, he Board of Public Utilities approved both the CRA and proposed programs.  FY17 savings targets represent a 15 percent increase over FY 2016 targets.

Pennsylvania – After unanimous approval of Governor Wolf’s third nominee to the five-member Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) by the state’s Senate, Commissioner David Sweet took his seat at the Commission in mid-June. The Pennsylvania PUC’s docket examining alternative ratemaking methodologies [M-2015-2518883] remains pending.

The District of Columbia — The Public Service Commission’s Grid Modernization Docket [FC 1130] remains pending after several public hearings and comment opportunities during the first half of 2016. After denying a petition for rehearing regarding the Exelon-Pepco merger, the Commission also denied a request by the Office of People’s Counsel (et al.) that funding resultant from the merger be held in abeyance. This includes $11.25 million for energy efficiency and conservation and $21.25 million for grid modernization pilot projects.

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