The Policy Tracker: March 2016

While some may view it as “the winter that wasn’t,” early 2016 in fact hosted a flurry of energy efficiency program approvals and policy shakeups, both at the state and federal level. While more than one Supreme Court decision brought energy policy to the the nightly news, long-awaited orders from the New York Public Service Commission, Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, and Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (et al.) are fundamentally changing the the way we look at energy efficiency program planning. 

Major Recent Orders and Plan Approvals

At the state level, regulators issued major orders, approved efficiency program plans, and accepted notable filings in several jurisdictions. Below is a state-by-state look at what NEEP’s been following: 

New York - The New York Public Service Commission issued final orders on NYSERDA’s Clean Energy Fund Proposal, Utility Energy Efficiency Transition Implementation Plans, and the REV Benefit Cost Analysis Framework. For brief summaries of these orders, see NEEP’s CEF Order Summary, and ETIPS Order Summary, and BCA Order Summary

NYSERDA also recently filed the first chapter of its Investment plan with the Commission, which focuses on traditional resource acquisition strategies.

Massachusetts - The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities gave final approval to the proposed 2016-18 statewide energy efficiency plans. Major issues of attention during the proceedings were performance incentives, demand response programs, and the process for mid-term modification of plans. The ambitious plan targets savings at 2.93 percent of retail electric sales, building upon the previous year’s programs which preliminary analysis shows captured electric savings at 3.01 percent of retail sales.

National Grid recently filed the interim evaluation report for its Worcester Smart Grid Pilot. The pilot leveraged advanced metering infrastructure for rollout of time varying rates and demand response.

The company also filed a formal proposal for its Nantucket Non-Wires Alternative Project. The proposal suggests using energy efficiency, demand response, energy storage, distributed generation, and energy storage to ensure reliability during contingency scenarios. 

Pennsylvania - The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is entering the final stages of a proceeding to consider Alternative Ratemaking Methodologies, examining options including but not limited to decoupling. The Commission accepted public comment until March 16, 2016.

The Commission also gave final approval in early March to efficiency program plans submitted by Duquesne Light and the First Energy Companies (Met Ed, Penelec, Penn Power, and West Penn Power). PECO and PPL’s plans remain pending consideration.

Maine - The Efficiency Maine Trust filed an ambitious 2017-19 Triennial Plan with regulators during late 2015, reaching for electric savings between 2.2 and 2.6 percent of 2014 retail sales. However, staff with the Public Utility Commission recently issued a bench analysis memo seeking to deny a portion of the Trusts’ requested funding, and challenging many of the plan’s assumptions — notably with regards to the transformation of the residential lighting market. Suggested revisions would reduce Efficiency Maine Trust’s funding by $45 million over three years.

Maryland - The Public Service Commission will conduct hearings in early May on the efficiency program administrators’ semi-annual reports, as well as recommendations by working groups around natural gas program goals and limited income programs.

Maryland’s program administrators recently petitioned the Public Service Commission for inclusion of non-ENERGY STAR® LED bulbs within their residential lighting portfolio. While the matter is pending resolution, the consumer advocate filed comments in opposition to coverage of such bulbs under the EmPOWER program. 

Rhode Island - In February, the Rhode Island Public Utility Commission opened a scoping investigation under Docket No. 4600, which seeks to create a common framework for measuring costs and benefits of actions taken across the distribution system, in alignment with principles enunciated in the state’s least-cost procurement law. Responding to initial comments, staff issued a memorandum outlining a stakeholder-driven processes for moving forward.

Vermont - Regulators in Vermont issued an Interim Order on Docket 8550, ironing out many of the details around the “Energy Transformation Projects” mandated by Tier III of Act 56. For more background on the law and its associated energy transformation project requirements, see NEEP’s recent blog on the matter.

Connecticut - The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection gave final approval with conditions to the proposed 2016-18 Conservation and Load Management plan.

New Hampshire - New Hampshire continues its move toward establishing an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, with a final technical and settlement conferences scheduled for March 30.

Delaware - The Delaware Energy Efficiency Advisory Council is continuing its progress toward initial efficiency program filings, pending finalization of proposed EM&V regulations.


Federal News: FERC Order 745 and the Clean Power Plan

The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the Court of Appeals’ decision vacating FERC’s Order 745, while also temporarily halting implementation of the Clean Power Plan just days before the unexpected passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. For background on the decision on Order 745, see here.  For insight around energy efficiency’s role in the Clean Power Plan, see our recent blog.  

Stay informed

Stay up to date with the latest NEEP and industry news, policies, and trends to your inbox every so often.