The Policy Tracker: December 2016

Yes, it’s already mid-December; that time of year best known for office holiday parties, well-deserved vacation time, and — perhaps most importantly — the big push to make end-of-year deadlines. Just in case the holiday season has you either with your head in the clouds or your nose to the grindstone, you can read on for a summary of the latest on energy efficiency policies in the NEEP region.


New York - The biggest news out of New York is the Supplemental Distributed System Implementation Plan (SDSIP) filed by the joint utilities in early November. The SDSIP covers a range of topics including a proposed suitability criteria for non-wire alternative projects, a process for developing plans to electrify the transportation sector, and discussion of energy data access protocols. Also of note are two filings from the Clean Energy Advisory Council: (1) The Energy Efficiency Metrics and Targets Options Report and (2) the EM&V Guidance Final Recommendations. The first filing proposes metrics for measuring energy efficiency savings including system-wide energy usage intensity (et al.). The second filing describes best practices for program evaluation, measurement, and verification, notably recommending that costs for auto Measurement & Verification (aka EM&V 2.0) be spread across both the implementation and evaluation budgets of a program. 


Connecticut - The Green Bank recently issued a first-of-its kind evaluation framework, suggesting a cost-benefit analysis that includes: (1) societal benefits measured through jobs supported and Greenhouse Gas emissions reduced, (2) participant benefits measured through savings to investment ratios and total cost savings, and (3) green bank benefits measured through public cost of clean energy (public dollars invested/attributable clean energy delivered). This framework will facilitate the goals of the Bank’s FY17/FY18 Plan, which includes support for renewable thermal technologies and alternative vehicles. On a related note, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Planning (DEEP) is still sharpening a draft of the state’s long-awaited Comprehensive Energy Strategy. For preliminary insights into the strategy’s recommendations, look toward DEEP’s two technical sessions held in the lead up to the its release, which examined demand reduction strategies, as well as opportunities to embrace renewable thermal technologies, such as air source heat pumps. DEEP also saw some administrative changes recently, with Deputy Commissioner Katie Dykes moving on to chair the state’s Public Utility Regulatory Agency.


Rhode Island - Stakeholders in Rhode Island recently filed a settlement agreement pertaining to the state’s 2017 energy efficiency program plan, with a hearing at the Commission scheduled for December 8. The settlement reaches for electric savings at 2.60 percent of retail sales and natural gas savings at 1.10 percent of retail sales. The plan is innovative for many reasons, but one particularly forward-looking aspect is its adoption of NMR’s recent valuation of low-income health benefits, which tripled the cost-effectiveness of low-income electric programs, and doubled the cost-effectiveness of low-income gas programs. If you don’t have time to read through all 221 pages of the agreement, have a look at our recent blog which covers the key takeaways within the plan. Also of note in Rhode Island is the ongoing Rate Modernization working group, which is working towards a benefit-cost matrix that will examine DERs like energy efficiency, demand response, combined heat and power, and photovoltaics on an even playing field. If you’re interested in further insights into how this matrix might be applied, review this recent filing with the group from Synapse’s Tim Woolf.  


Massachusetts - The Department of Public Utilities recently published a revised procedural schedule for its Grid Modernization proceeding, which had been suspended in August and will now re-open in February 2017. In related matters, the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) is seeking comment through mid-December regarding whether it should set a target for energy storage in the Commonwealth. A major recommendation of the DOER’s “State of Charge” report was that the state’s utilities amend their grid modernization filings to include sizable investments in cost-effective energy storage. The Commonwealth’s Energy Efficiency Advisory Council also hosted presentations on the program administrators’ ongoing and proposed (slide eight) demand response demonstration projects; notably, National Grid was able to secure ~1,700 participants and called more than 25 events during 2016, the first summer of the program.


New Hampshire - Program administrators are still in the process of implementing their Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, having filed their 2017 Transition Year Plan in late September. The plan reaches for electric savings at 0.60 percent of retail sales, and natural gas savings at 0.66 percent of retail sales. In order to facilitate the ramp-up of programs following the transition year, stakeholders will convene a working group to identify and quantify non-energy impacts for inclusion in programs’ cost-effectiveness screening. Also of note is a mid-October order from the Public Utility Commission specifying that the entire $20 million of funding directed to clean energy in Northern Pass’s application for public utility treatment will in fact go towards energy efficiency.


Vermont - The major distribution utilities in Vermont recently filed plans to satisfy their Energy Transformation Portfolio obligations, which included support for air source heat pumps, electric vehicles, electric vehicle supply equipment, and whole-home weatherization (et al.). While the plans have not been published on the web, they have been circulated to Docket 8550’s service list and are available upon request. In the state’s Demand Resource Plan Proceeding, parties filed initial modeling proposals and comments, and are now awaiting a potential study due by January 17, 2017. A workshop soliciting public comment will be held the week following publication.


Maine - While several aspects of Efficiency Maine’s 2018-20 Plan remain pending resolution at the Public Utility Commission, its docket investigating designation of a statewide non-transmission alternative (NTA) coordinator, is seeing renewed activity. For example, in a late October bench memorandum, the Commission suggested the NTA Coordinator should be a non-utility entity, but that utilities would be free to proposed solutions that are a hybrid between non-transmission alternatives and wire-based upgrades. The Governor’s Energy Office will also be experiencing some administrative changes with Patrick Woodcock’s announcement that he would be moving on, citing the detrimental influence of special interests in energy policy discussions.


Maryland - While we await an outcome regarding the most recent round of semi-annual hearings, stakeholders should be aware of a recent survey from George Mason University, which found that approximately seven in 10 Marylanders support the state’s low and middle income energy efficiency programs. The same survey found that most Marylanders are likely to embrace aspects of a smart grid, but significant population was also concerned about smart meters’ effect on public health. On a related note, the first hearing in the Commission’s Grid Transformation proceeding is was held on December 8.


District of Columbia - After years of drafting, comment, and revision, the District of Columbia recently published a draft of its Climate and Energy Plan. The plan includes an extensive commitment to energy efficiency and provides concrete recommendations for increasing savings attributable to the Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU), including: (1) providing DCSEU better access to building performance and utility data access, (2) adopting a standard for verifying behavioral programs, (3) enabling the DCSEU to undertake projects that take more than a year to complete, (4) allowing the DCSEU to support energy code compliance, and (5) permitting the DCSEU to claim savings on a fuel neutral basis. 


Pennsylvania - The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s Robert Powelson was elected as the 128th President of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissions in late November. He will replace outgoing President Travis Kavulla of Montana. Also of note in Pennsylvania is a recent report prepared for Delaware Riverkeeper by Synapse Energy Economics and EQ research that maps out a pathway to reach 100 percent renewables in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by 2050. The pathway includes an extensive embrace of energy efficiency, electrification, decoupling, and performance-based rates as a cornerstone policy.


New Jersey - The New Jersey Clean Energy Program is developing a strategic plan that will serve as a roadmap for its programs beginning in July 2017. After a round of focus groups in December, the group plans to post a survey soliciting feedback.

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