QUARTER 1 HIGHLIGHTS: JANUARY - MARCH 2021 We use color-coded tags on individual highlights to help you find the news important to you. The tags in this edition include:
Energy Efficiency Policy State and Local Updates Alabama Alabama Power Rate Case: On December 8, 2020, the Alabama Public Service Commission approved a rate increase that took effect on January 1, 2021. The average residential customer will see a $4 bill increase. Alabama asked for the rate request in order to recover increased expenditures and decreased revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Arkansas Entergy Arkansas: Due to cold winter weather, Entergy Arkansas asked customers to reduce their electricity use in the evening to avoid a mandatory outage.
Winter Storm Task Force: In response to the February winter storm that severely affected Texas, Arkansas governor, Asa Hutchinson, created an Energy Resources Planning Task Force to assess the state’s ability to withstand future events. Florida PACE Accessibility: State Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez filed a bill in February 2021 proposing reforms to a state financing program to help homeowners pay for energy efficiency and storm hardening upgrades. FEECA Rules: On March 31, Twenty seven local elected officials, representing constituencies from across Florida, filed a letter calling on the Florida Public Service Commission to modernize its practices for setting energy efficiency goals.
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Resilient Florida Grants Program: Florida plans to leverage federal COVID-19 relief funds to double the size of a new state climate resilience initiative, the Resilient Florida grants program. Public Service Commission: On February 18, Gov. Ron DeSantis named Julie Brown to be the next Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, creating a vacancy on the Florida Public Service Commission. For more on how Florida Public Service Commissioners are appointed, see our State Guide to Utility Energy Efficiency Planning for Florida. Utility Disconnections: In December 2020, six utilities including, Duke, Florida Power & Light, Florida City Gas, Gulf Power, TECO, and People’s Gas filed required customer impact data with the Public Service Commission (PSC). Collectively, the six utility companies disconnected more than 330,000 residential customers between August and December 2020. Consumer Advocate Appointed: In February, the Joint Legislative Committee on Public Oversight unanimously named Richard Gentry, a veteran lobbyist, to be the chief lawyer representing consumers in utility rate cases before state regulators. Gentry replaces J.R. Kelly, a lawyer who previously held the position for 14 years. Rate Cases • Florida Power & Light (FPL): In mid-March FPL requested a four-year rate proposal to increase investment in resiliency and sustainability in response to climate change and more intense storms. FPL customers could see a phased in base rate hike starting in 2022. • Duke Energy Florida: After months of negotiation, Duke Energy Florida and community groups have reached an agreement that sets the utility’s base rates through 2024. Duke Energy Florida previously had a base rate freeze in place through December 31, 2021. On December 31,
2020, the utility filed for rate increases that would start on March 31, 2021. Docket No. 20210016 Georgia Public Service Commission: Incumbent Lauren “Bubba” MacDonald was reelected to the Georgia Public Service Commission in a January 5 runoff with Daniel Blackmon. Preemptive Building Code Legislation: In March, Georgia lawmakers passed HB 150, which prohibits local governments from adopting building codes based solely on the energy source, such as natural gas. Sustainability Bond: Georgia Power announced its first sustainability bond, and the first sustainability bond for a domestic utility in the U.S. on February 2, 2021. The bond’s proceeds will be spent on engaging diverse and small business suppliers and investments in renewable energy projects. Plant Vogtle: Southern Company has identified a likely one-month delay on one nuclear unit at Plant Vogtle. Docket No. 29849 Georgia Power Smart Usage Plan: Customers with new homes built after January 1 will be automatically placed on the utility’s Smart Usage rate plan. The Smart Usage plan has always been a rate choice along with the standard rate plan. The plan charges customers higher rates during peak hours to encourage a shift in energy use and also includes an additional demand charge for the highest kilowatt usage in any 60-minute period during the billing month. Kentucky Kentucky Power Rate Case: In July 2020, Kentucky Power’s request for a rate increase was suspended for five months. On January 13, 2021, the Kentucky Public Service Commission issued a final order approving a base revenue increase of $52.4 million which includes an increase in monthly customer charges from $14 to $17.50. The utility
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was awarded a 9.3% return on equity, instead of the requested 10%. The commission also denied the Grid Modernization Rider intended to recover expenses associated with AMI deployment. The order disallows Kentucky Power from charging customers late payment charges. The commission delayed a final decision on the utility’s proposed changes to the net metering tariff. Docket No. 2020-00174 Online Affordability Resources: The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Office of Energy Policy has expanded its online resources through a new energy affordability webpage. The site provides a comprehensive network of resources to help families locate affordable housing, and get utility bill assistance. It also provides educational resources and helpful tips to reduce energy costs in the home. Louisiana Public Service Commission: On January 12, 2021 the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) accepted a joint request from June 18, 2020 from LPSC Staff and Atmos Energy for an increase in base revenues to account for adjustment of revenue. Base revenues will increase $14,780,953 and customers will see an increase on bills in July. Docket No. U-35525 CenterPoint Energy Return on Equity Request: On January 12, 2021 LPSC approved CenterPoint Energy’s request for Return on Equity filed in November 2020. A decrease of approximately $936,242 is expected due to 2020 over earnings. Docket No. U-35739 Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO): On March 25, SWEPCO requested approval of an Energy Efficiency Cost Rider (EECR) and an Energy Efficiency Cost Rider for Public Entities (EECR PE) to support energy efficiency program fees. Residential customers will see bill increases starting in May. The riders are required by the Louisiana Public Service Commission will increase rates by $0.000436 and $0.000590 (EECR PE and EECR respectively) Docket No. R-31106
Mississippi Mississippi Power Company Integrated Resource Plan (IRP): On February 25, Mississippi Power Company held its first Technical Conference as required by Rule 29. Docket No. 2019-UA-231 Mississippi Power Company Rate Case: On March 15, Mississippi Power Company filed for a temporary rate increase for the April billing cycle in its 2021 performance evaluation plan. Docket No. 2019-UN-219 Previously, on March 2, the Mississippi Public Service Commission approved Mississippi Power Company’s Ad Valorem Tax Adjustment Rider (ATA-2). The ATA-2 rider will increase an average residential customer’s bill by approximately $3.88 per month. Docket No. 2021UN-29 Preemptive Utility Connection Legislation: On March 17, Governor Tate Reeves approved HB 632, the “All Fuels Act of 2021,” which prohibits the connection or reconnection of any utility service based upon the type or source of energy or fuel passed both the Mississippi House of Representatives and Mississippi State Senate. Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO): The Mississippi Public Service Commission is examining the benefits, costs, and commitments of Entergy Mississippi becoming a participating member of MISO. North Carolina Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs): • Duke Energy: Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress jointly filed their IRPs with the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) on September 1, 2020. • Dominion Energy: Dominion Energy NC filed its IRP on May 1, 2020. On March 12, 2021 NCUC rescheduled the March public hearing which is still yet to be determined. Docket No. E-100 Sub 165 Dominion Energy Rate Increases: NCUC approved three rate increases for Dominion Energy North
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Carolina on January 29. Docket Nos. E-22 Sub 588, E-22 Sub 589 and E-22 Sub 590 Leadership: Governor Roy Cooper named Dionne Delli-Gatti Secretary of the Department of Environment Quality, which houses the state energy office, among other responsibilities. DelliGatti replaces Michael Regan, who was confirmed as the first Black male administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Clean Energy Merger: In March, the N.C. Clean Energy Business Alliance and S.C. Solar Business Association announced they were merging to increase collaboration and advocacy efforts between the two states. Coal Plant Closure: In February, Duke Energy announced it would close its 270 MW Allen Unit 3 coal plant by March 31. The Allen plant is scheduled to be fully retired by 2024. South Carolina LED Street Lights: In March, North Augusta City Council approved a municipal lighting agreement with Dominion Energy South Carolina to convert its streetlights to LED fixtures to save money. Incentives for Business Energy Efficiency Upgrades: Dominion Energy South Carolina’s EnergyWise for Your Business Program is offering up to $100,000 in incentives for lighting and efficiency upgrades for eligible businesses. Dominion Energy South Carolina Integrated Resource Plan (IRP): Dominion Energy South Carolina has refiled its IRP, which includes updated plans to retired all coal-fired power plants in the state by 2030 and meet the energy efficiency requirements of the Energy Freedom Act. Last year, the utility’s IRP was rejected by the South Carolina Public Service Commission because it did not include renewables and energy storage before 2026 or close coal-fired power plants before 2028. Docket No. 2019-226-E Dominion Energy Rate Case: In January, Dominion Energy agreed to drop its request for a 7.7% rate increase and to not request another rate increase
for six months after receiving a letter from the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) and hearing testimony from Walmart, AARP, and environmental advocates opposing the rate hike. South Carolina Energy Efficiency Roadmap: The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University released their South Carolina Energy Efficiency Roadmap, which explores opportunities to increase the deployment of energy efficiency in South Carolina. Grid Resilience: On February 19, Governor Henry McMaster asked ORS to conduct a review the state’s public and private power grid to evaluate resiliency following the impacts of the February 13-17 winter storm in Texas. Santee Cooper Sale: On January 26, the South Carolina House voted again to explore selling the public power and water utility, Santee Cooper. Tennessee Memphis, Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW): MLGW is still unclear on plans to leave the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and explore new power suppliers. In October 2020, the Memphis City Council voted against a contract with GDS Associates to bid out Memphis’ power supply and the cost of potential transmission lines. TVA Performance Study: A new study released in February praised the performance of the TVA. The study was commissioned by the TVA board in November 2020 after the past two U.S. presidents proposed selling some or all of the governmentowned utility. Integrated Community Sustainability Plan Support: Nine of the 15 mayoral candidates in Chattanooga endorsed the Integrated Community Sustainability Plan developed over the past two years by nearly 175 environmental, community, and business leaders that includes sweeping energy goals including carbon neutral by 2050, affordable and easy transit, and equity measures.
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Low-Income Energy Efficiency Funding Matrix: The Department of Environmental Conservation updated its Low-Income Energy Efficiency Funding Matrix, providing Tennesseans with energy efficiency-related programs and resources targeted to low-income residents in the state. Virginia First Carbon Allowance Auction: On March 5, Virginia conducted its first auction of carbon allowances since joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and generated more than $43 million, half of which will be devoted to lowincome energy efficiency programs administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development. Rate Cases: • Appalachian Power: In March, Appalachian Power filed its periodic rate adjustment clause (RAC) to account for transmission infrastructure. The change will increase the monthly bill for a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours by $11.52, or roughly 11 percent, effective in July 2021. The State Corporation Commission (SCC) approved Appalachian Power’s fuel recovery rider. Appalachian Power is waiting on a response to its request an increase in revenue. Docket No. PUR-2020-00015
residential customer using 1,000 kilowatthours. Docket No. PUR-2021-00034 • Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: In response to Virginia becoming a full member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), Dominion Energy filed a petition to establish a new rate adjustment clause to recover participation costs. Docket No. PUR2020-00169 Clean Economy Act: In May 2020, Dominion Energy filed its 2020 IRP, its first to comply with Virginia’s Clean Economy Act. The plan was approved by SCC on February 1 and will go into effect on July 1. Docket No. PUR-2020-00035
Energy Efficiency Policy: Regional, National, and Federal Updates Clean Energy Jobs: Nationally, nearly 17,000 jobs in the clean energy and energy efficiency sectors were added in December. However, 70% of the clean energy jobs lost in the pandemic have not yet recovered and would take two and a half years to return to pre-pandemic levels. Safe During COVID: A new study from Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions found that prohibiting utility shutoffs and evictions helped slow the spread of COVID-19.
• Dominion Energy: Dominion Energy filed for a new rate rider to recover costs for coal ash remediation and received approval for a rate rider to support the mostly coal-powered Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center. Dominion Energy also filed its triennial review for 20172020 earnings. Docket No. PUR-2021-00058
Southern Energy Exchange Market: Duke Energy Progress filed a proposal with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to form the Southeast Energy Exchange Market to facilitate trading among several major utilities in the region. FERC is currently considering public and stakeholder comments on the proposal.
• Old Dominion Power: Kentucky Utilities Companies filed for an increase to its fuel recovery rider on February 16. Kentucky Utilities Company, doing business as Old Dominion Power, customers could see a total bill increase of $1.63 per month for a
Net Zero Business Alliance: Southern Company is among several companies launching the Net Zero Business Alliance. The coalition will work with federal government and U.S. businesses to reach net-zero green net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
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Fuels Transition Research: Southern Company is working with the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) and the Department of Energy to explore blending hydrogen in natural gas using existing gas infrastructure. New Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs): State commissions in Virginia, South Carolina, and Mississippi are asking utilities to resubmit their IRPs to include more carbon-free sources, close coal-powered power plants, add battery storage, and add renewables to their systems. U.S. Secretary of Energy: On February 25, the U.S. Senate confirmed former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm as energy secretary. EPA Administrator: On March 10, former Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Michael Regan was confirmed as the first Black, male administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Energy Justice: In January, Shalanda Baker, a professor of law, public policy and urban affairs at Northeastern University, began a new role as the Secretarial Advisor on Equity and as Deputy Director for Energy Justice in the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the U.S. Department of Energy. She is the current nominee of President Joe Biden to serve as Director of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Her role is the first at DOE to focus exclusively on energy justice. USDA Equity Advisor: In March, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced he would hire Dewayne Goldman as senior advisor for racial equity and launch a commission to ensure equity across all Department of Agriculture programs. Utility and Environmental Justice Relief: The American Rescue Plan, signed into law by President Biden on March 11, included $4.5 billion for the Low-Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), $500 million of assistance with
water bills, and $100 million for environmental justice grants. Low-Income Home Water Assistance Program: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is taking action to develop the LowIncome Home Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), a counterpart to its energy focused program (LIHEAP). Appliance Energy Efficiency Standards: In February, the U.S. Department of Energy is reviewing changes made by the Trump administration to appliance energy efficiency standards. LNG Export Licenses: On December 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy extended five longterm liquefied natural gas (LNG) export licenses through 2050. The authorizations extend export terms for stations in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. 2030 Climate Challenge Finalists: Clean Energy Works, Liberty Homes, and EETility were selected as finalists for the 2030 Climate Challenge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by expanding the use of tariffed on-bill programs for clean energy. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Justice and Systemic Racism Speaker Series: In March, the EPA launched a speaker series that explores how understanding and addressing systemic racism and the roots of disproportionate environmental and public health impacts is key to integrating environmental justice in the policies and programs of EPA and other environmental agencies to achieve environmental protection for all people.
Energy Efficient Transportation State, Local, and Utility Policy Updates Florida EV Charging Infrastructure: Tampa Electric’s proposed EV Pilot was approved by the Florida Public Service Commission on April 1, 2021. The pilot
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will add approximately 200 new electric vehicle charging ports. Docket No. 20200220-EI Electric Buses in Jacksonville, FL: The Jacksonville Transportation Authority has launched an electric bus program. They will start with two 40-foot zero-emission electric buses. North Carolina EV Adoption Progress: A new study shows North Carolina is making progress on electric vehicle (EV) adoption but policy changes are needed to increase EV accessibility for people in low-income and environmentally distressed areas. VW Settlement Funds RFP: The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ’s) Division of Air Quality (DAQ) has an open request for proposals (RFP) for Level 2 charging station projects to be funded by Phase 1 of the NC Volkswagen Mitigation Settlement program. Tennessee EV Fast Charging Network: The Tennessee Valley Authority and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation are partnering to install electric vehicle charging stations along Tennessee’s interstates and major roads. This initiative would add approximately 50 new charging locations, doubling the existing fast charging network. Virginia Funding for EV Incentives: With a state budget constrained by the pandemic, Virginia lawmakers struggle to find funding to create incentives for drivers who want to switch to electric vehicles. Clean Car Standards Bill: On February 19, Virginia lawmakers passed a bill that mandates state car dealers sell a certain percentage of electric or hybrid vehicles beginning in 2024.
Energy Efficient Transportation Regional, National, and Federal Policy Updates Tesla Cars and Batteries Provide Power Backup: Owners of electric cars in Texas used their vehicles for warmth and electricity during widespread outages during the devastating winter storm in February. The Electric Highway Coalition: Several utilities in the Southeast announced a plan to create a seamless network of charging stations along major highway systems. The Electric Highway Coalition is made up of American Electric Power, Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Entergy Corporation, Southern Company, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. The American Jobs Plan: On March 31, President Biden announced the American Jobs Plan, which proposes $174 billion for building a network of 500,00 electric vehicle charging stations, replacing 50,000 federal fleet diesel transit vehicles with cleaner options, electrifying 20 percent of the nation’s school buses, and incentivizing customers to purchase electric vehicles. Towards Equitable Electric Mobility (TEEM) Initiative: SEEA is one of 21 organizations from across the U.S. participating in a newly created initiative by Forth and the Greenlining Institute focused on equity, public health, transportation, and clean energy. Gas Station Ban: In March, the City Council in Petaluma, California approved the first permanent ban on new gas stations in the U.S. The ban halts the development of additional gas stations and prohibits expansion of existing ones. Fleet Transition Report: The Rocky Mountain Institute released a new report assessing how major U.S. fleet managers are approaching the electrification of their fleets.
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Built Environment State, Local, and Utility Policy Updates Arkansas Net-Zero Building Development: Entegrity, an energy service, sustainability, and solar development company, is developing a net-zero apartment and office building in downtown Fayetteville. Florida Building Efficiency 305 (BE305) Challenge: Miami-Dade County has launched the BE305 Challenge, which focuses on improving building energy and water efficiency, leading to reduced operational costs. The county is still recruiting buildings to join the challenge, and all registered participants will be entered to win a free energy and water audit for their building. Building Code Assessment: In its Mitigation Action Portfolio, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) highlights Florida’s building code as the strongest among 18 the coastal states. Climate Gentrification: The Keep Safe Miami program intends to help owners of affordable multifamily housing assess the resilience of their properties to global warming. Kentucky Grant Supports Affordable Energy Efficient Housing: An Office of Energy Policy (OEP) $15,000 grant is aiding efforts to make energy efficient homes more accessible to low- and moderate-income residents in southeast Kentucky. The grant covers costs for training builders to make insulation upgrades, rebates for installing heat pump water heaters, and home inspection and certification costs.
The change would allow builders to bypass basic energy efficiency measures in exchange for voluntary green building standards. Built Environment Regional, National, and Federal Policy Updates Energy Resource for State and Local Governments: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a Benchmarking and Building Performance Standards Toolkit that informs and supports state and local government decision makers who are exploring adopting policies focused on reducing energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing commercial and multifamily buildings in their communities. Federal Resources for Energy Resilience and Disaster Mitigation Planning: The Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs Office, through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, has compiled federally funded and publicly available resilience resources for state energy offices. International Code Council (ICC) Procedural Change: On March 3, the ICC board changed its voting procedure to the system used by the American National Standards Institute, which gives final code approval to development committees comprised of private and public sector stakeholders. Previously, any government code official who applied could vote. In 2019, hundreds applied to vote and overwhelmingly approved stronger energy efficiency standards.
North Carolina Building Energy Code: A proposed change to North Carolina’s building energy code has been sent to the state budget office for fiscal review which could prolong its adoption by up to a year.
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