The Policy Tracker: Fall 2016

As the days grow shorter, the broader electric grid is now on entering its shoulder months, a time of rest and repair for the electric grid with few forecasted peaking events. Yet, while the grid is beginning to show signs of cooling, the energy efficiency landscape remains red hot. Read on below for the latest state-by-state summaries…


Massachusetts — The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources released its long awaited report on opportunities for advanced energy storage, entitled “State of Charge.” The report provides an in-depth analysis of the potential for cost-effective energy storage in the Commonwealth, suggesting a procurement of 600MW in the next five to 10 years. In accordance with last session’s energy bill, energy storage will likely be procured and planned for within the current processes the Commonwealth uses to procure energy efficiency. For a deeper dive on the report, see our recent blog. Contemporaneously, the Baker-Polito administration issued an Executive Order 569, outlining a process for establishing transportation emission reduction goals (comment here) in compliance with a May 2016 Supreme Judicial Court decision mandating Global Warming Solutions Act compliance. Notably, the order also prescribes publication of a state energy plan by September 2018. Meanwhile, at the Department of Public Utilities, grid modernization proceedings have been suspended pending further developments, and a non-wires alternative project planned by National Grid for the island of Nantucket was withdrawn due to an error in calculating the discount rate of the undersea cable that would have been deferred. 

New York — Major news out of New York comes to us via a settlement agreement in ConEdison’s latest rate case, which includes funding for energy efficiency within a utility’s rates, rather than simply through its Energy Efficiency Transition Implementation Plan (ETIP) proposals. If adopted by the Public Service Commission, the framework will enable ConEdison, and other utilities to capture a greater degree of energy efficiency than could have been procured under the previous framework, opening the door to the procurement of all-cost effective energy efficiency that’s less expensive than supply resources. This would be an important new policy for the Public Service Commission (PSC), which proposed in its REV Track I Order that energy efficiency be funded via rates, but clarified in a later order only to funding allocated toward employee hours would be placed in the rates. Final targets for energy efficiency procurement—upon which utilities will base their earnings adjustment mechanism proposals—remain pending a deadline of November 4, but if one takes a literal reading of the PSC’s Clean Energy Standard Order, the utilities may be charged with procuring far more energy efficiency than had been proposed within the ETIPs. Aside from the utilities, NYSERDA also published several new chapters of its Investment plan: Agriculture, Low-to-Moderate Income, Workforce Development, Grid Modernization, Energy Storage, Clean Transportation, and Building Innovations (HVAC). More broadly, the state is beginning to examine the specific frameworks for aggregated distributed energy resources markets, as suggested by the Department of Public Service’s LMP+D+E straw proposal, and the NY-ISO’s straw proposal on Wholesale Market Redesign. This redesign of wholesale markets to accommodate DERs and other clean energy resources mirrors shares many similarities with NEPOOL’s current work on Integrating Markets and Public Policy, or “IMAPP.”.

Connecticut — Program administrators in Connecticut recently released a draft of the 2017 update to their 2016-18 Conservation and Load Management Plans. Notable revisions to the plan include specific details on demand response pilots, as well as a peak time rebate program that will be offered by United Illuminating (Iberdrola) in 2018. The plan also signals a shift in cost effectiveness considerations that may give greater consideration of unregulated fuel savings, allowing for a more rapid deployment of air source heat pumps. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP)’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy update is also rumored to be released this week, with program administrators having mentioned at the last meeting of the Energy Efficiency Advisory Board that they’ve been working with DEEP to incorporate strategies for beneficial electrification into the document. For further information on the opportunities associated with beneficial electrification, readers should review a recent article on the subject in Electricity Journal authored by Ken Colburn, Jim Lazar, and Keith Dennis of the Regulatory Assistance project. 

New Hampshire — After months of proceedings, deliberation, and a final order, New Hampshire is now moving toward the implementation phase for its Energy Efficiency Resource Standard. While 2017 is designated as a transition year during which the savings targets remain relatively stable, program administrators are developing a plan to include demand reduction induced pricing effect (DRIPE) and non-energy benefits such as property value, thermal comfort, home durability, health benefits, within their cost effectiveness screening test. The Commission is also moving forward with grid modernization efforts, facilitated by Raab Associates.

Rhode Island — A final version of Rhode Island’s 2017 Energy Efficiency Program Plan was approved by the Energy Efficiency Resource Management Council (EERMC) in late September and should be available for review at the Public Utility Commission in early October. Meanwhile, the timeline for the state’s 2018-20 least cost-procurement plan has been revised so that both the targets and the standards are proposed for review by the EERMC in mid-December. On the grid modernization front, the Commission’s facilitated working group held their first substantive meeting in Sept 2016, with recommendations planned by late February 2017.

Vermont — The Vermont Public Service Board recently opened a demand resources proceeding, with the state’s Energy Efficiency Utilities (EEUs) having already filed scenario modeling proposals. Efficiency Vermont, the state’s largest EEU filed a proposal for an approximate funding increase of $500,000 annually between 2018 and 2020, building upon its 2017 budget for electric resource acquisition of ~$47 million. The proceeding schedule is available here. Vermont Gas, the state’s gas EEU, is also now in the midst of decoupling proceeding

Maine — While the targets for Efficiency Maine Trust’s Triennial Plan are now mostly settled, a number of issues are scheduled to be resolved in subsequent dockets, including: issues relating to natural gas, low-income programs, measure bundles and LEDs, voltage optimization, large customer opportunities, and issues relative to program evaluation. (Case 2015-00175; Item No. 288)

Maryland — The Maryland PSC is the latest to weigh in on the changing distribution system, planning to hold Public Conference 44 this December to examine transforming Maryland’s Electric Distribution System. The conference will likely cover topics of rate design, benefits and costs of distributed energy resources (DERs), advanced metering infrastructure, energy storage, interconnection, system planning, and low-income impacts. We also continue to watch Maryland’s EmPOWER program for potential funding rollbacks, with a recent Public Service Commission dissent characterizing energy efficiency funding as a “government imposed cost borne by utility customers” rather than as the least-cost energy resource for Maryland ratepayers. In its next round of semi-annual hearings, scheduled for October 25-27, the Commission will consider the recommendations relating to adoption of the ENERGY STAR Retail Products Platform, focusing the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Program on electric savings only, and whether the program administrators should identify the savings provided by EmPOWER on customers’ bills next to the costs of the program. 

PJM (Other)—Aside from Maryland, the Mid-Atlantic remains relatively calm, with Delaware continuing to push forward on development of its EERS, the New Jersey Bureau of Public Utilities having approved 2017 program updates, and no new movement in Pennsylvania’s decoupling proceeding or the District of Columbia’s MEDSIS initiative.

Bonus Federal Update – If you are still interested in the Clean Power Plan as it makes it journeys through the court system, but not interested enough to read the transcripts, audio of last week’s oral arguments can be found here, and here.  

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