The Policy Tracker: February 2017

It may have taken a few months of frigid weather, but the snow is finally flying here in the Northeast. At the same time, we’re seeing a flurry of bills from recently convened legislative sessions in the NEEP states, as well as some developments of interest on the regulatory front. Read on for a summary of the latest on energy efficiency policies in the NEEP region.


New York – In a move that stands squarely in support of the ambitious goals of New York’s State Energy Plan, Governor Cuomo recently endorsed a declining cap of approximately three percent per year on emissions under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which is a major source of funding for energy efficiency programs in our region. NYSERDA issued a revised chapter of its Clean Energy Fund Investment Plan which details an initiative known as M-Corp which is meant to link clean-tech startups to manufacturers. Meanwhile, the New York Public Service Commission’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) proceeding continues at Clean Energy Advisory Council, which received several working group draft reports relevant to our industry, including:

  1. A guide to energy efficiency best practices under REV (p. 15-40);
  2. A report on detailing clean energy best practices in the low-to-moderate income sector (p. 28-82)
  3. A report on clean energy performance metrics (p. 63-75);
  4. A report on program administrator coordination (p. 13-22).


Massachusetts – The Massachusetts Energy Efficiency Advisory Council hosted presentations on 2017 priorities as well as savings opportunities in the commercial and industrial (C&I) sector. Notably, the consultants and program administrators predict greater investment in the C&I sector to make up for reductions in savings that had previously been available in the residential lighting market segment, and suggest there will be a continued emphasis on peak demand reduction. The Department of Energy Resources decided to set targets for energy storage, with a decision on actual targets due by July 1. The decision comes shortly after Lazard released a new study evaluating the levelized cost of energy storage in ISO-NE (et al.). Relatedly, Eversource has proposed investing in four energy storage facilities—as well as “make ready” infrastructure for more than 4,200 electric vehicle charges—in an update to its Grid Modernization Investment Plan. National Grid has filed a similar proposal for approximately 1,200 chargers. 


Connecticut – While we eagerly anticipate the rollout of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP)’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy in the next month or so, developments at the Energy Efficiency Board and in DEEP’s Grid-side Enhancement Project docket have captured our attention. At the Energy Efficiency Board, program administrators gave a recent update on their demand resource pilots and provided an overview of what program strategies might fill the void left by declining savings from residential lighting measures. Notably, they identify fuel-switching as a possible source of new savings, depending on policy directives that from the state’s pending Comprehensive Energy Strategy. The program administrators have also been ordered to propose changes to the cost-effectiveness screening strategies by March 1; such changes may help promote fuel-switching. DEEP also recently issued a notice of final determination regarding both Eversource and United Illuminating’s grid-side enhancement projects. Notably, DEEP approved portions of each proposal related to DER hosting capacity analysis, targeting of DERs, and DER forecasting, but rejected proposals for investments in energy storage citing a lack of cost-benefit analysis.


New Hampshire – The Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy (EESE) Board in New Hampshire is convening a series of workshops during February and March to examine details related to the state’s Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS). Meanwhile, the New Hampshire legislature is in full swing with several bills related to energy efficiency already having been heard in committee. These include a RGGI repeal bill, a bill that would require the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to implement time varying rates, and a bill that would require legislative approval for any increase in the systems benefit charge, possibly limiting the ability of program administrators to comply with the PUC’s recent EERS order.


Rhode Island – Rhode Island’s Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council recently published a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan, the latest in a series of policy guidance documents suggesting extension of the state’s least-cost procurement policies to delivered fuels. The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources has also agreed to participate in the National Governors Association’s Grid Modernization Policy Academy, which focuses on the changing utility business model, opportunities for advanced metering infrastructure, electrification, and distribution system planning. This focus mirrors much of the work being done within the Rhode Island Public Utility Commission’s Docket 4600. For background on the proceeding, and how it may impact the distribution system planning process, a recent memo developed by Synapse Energy Economics may be informative.


Maryland – In February 2017, the Maryland Public Service Commission issued its order on questions that arose during October 2016's semi-annual hearing, which examined results of EmPOWER programs during Q1/Q2 of 2016. Notably, the order requires utilities to track actual energy savings alongside modeled savings for Home Performance with Energy Star (HPwES) program offerings. The Maryland legislature is also poised to weigh in on energy efficiency programs during the 2017 session, with S.B. 184 potentially codifying the Commission’s previously prescribed savings goal of annual savings at two percent of retail sales.


District of Columbia – The District’s Public Service Commission released its report on Modernizing the Energy Delivery System for Increased Sustainability (MEDSIS), recommending regulatory definition changes for generation and setting parameters for pilot projects, but withholding recommendations in several categories it examined due to ongoing proceedings related to the issue. The Commission is accepting comments on the document until March 27.


Maine – We continue to watch two proceedings at the Maine Public Utility Commission that may impact energy efficiency programs. The first is the docket related to Efficiency Maine Trust's Triennial Plan, which is awaiting final resolution of details relating to the state’s natural gas programs. The second is a docket related to procurement of a non-transmission alternative coordinator, which is scheduled to host a final settlement conference at the end of March.


Delaware – The Delaware Energy Efficiency Advisory Council will be voted on February 15 to approve Delmarva Power and Light’s Energy Efficiency Program Portfolio. This move represents a significant step towards rollout of full-scale energy efficiency programs in the states.


New Jersey – The New Jersey Clean Energy Program is continuing to hold stakeholder focus groups to coordinate a strategic plan for FY 18 (which begins July 2017).  The most recent focus group examined the role of distributed energy resources on February 14.

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