Author Archives: Josh Craft

Energy Efficiency Policy Tracker: February 2014

Here’s our brief rundown on key developments in energy efficiency policy from around the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states NEEP is keeping tabs on.

Data Moment: Electricity Use Decoupling from Economic Growth, BP Finds

Source: BP, Annual Energy Outlook for 2035, p. 16

Source: BP, Annual Energy Outlook for 2035, p. 16

Last month, Brad Plumer of the Washington Post reported that BP found in its Annual Energy Outlook for 2035 that energy consumption is gradually decoupling from economic growth. The graph below is yet more evidence that we are making significantly progress, through policy and through markets, to become more energy efficient.

New England Governors’ Statement on Energy Infrastructure

The New England Governors released a statement in December calling for the states to work together on a regional energy infrastructure investment initiative that “diversifies our energy supply portfolio while ensuring that the benefits and costs of transmission and pipeline investments are shared appropriately among the New England states.” While the governor’s statement was widely seen as expressing their intent to expand gas pipeline capacity and create new electric transmission to bring hydropower from Canada into the region (for which the New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE) has petitioned ISO-New England’s assistance), they also re-iterated their support for energy efficiency as a key resource to be included in load forecasting and transmission planning. The recent electricity price spikes in our region demonstrate the importance of our natural gas energy efficiency programs to ensuring reasonably-priced electricity.

ISO-New England & Energy Efficiency

  • ISO-New England is undertaking two initiatives that have significant implications for energy efficiency resources in the Northeast region. First, it has release a preliminary draft of its 2017-2023 Energy Efficiency Forecast. The forecast, which predicts energy and capacity savings based on state energy efficiency budgets, shows that energy efficiency resources will reduce annual electricity consumption by about 1,550 GWh and peak demand by 210 MW per year. The result according to ISO: “Generally, energy remains flat in the region with notable reductions in energy in VT and RI.” ISO welcomes comments on the draft through March 3 at eeforecast@iso-ne.com.
  • ISO-New England has also filed a proposal with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to alter the Forward Capacity Market (FCM) by creating a “Pay-for-Performance” mechanism. Under the new rules, ISO-NE would require participating resources to perform during shortage events; non-performers would be penalized, while performing resources would be rewarded. A number of stakeholders have expressed concerns with the proposal, in part because it creates uncertainty about whether energy efficiency resources will be able to continue to participate in the FCM under the new rules. Energy efficiency resources are passive by their nature and cannot be dispatched in real-time. For more background as well as an alternative proposal from the Northeast Power Pool (NEPOOL), see ISO’s blog here. A final ruling is expected by FERC by May 14, 2014.
Source: ISO-New England, 2013 Regional System Plan

Source: ISO-New England, 2013 Regional System Plan

Oil Heat Energy Efficiency

The U.S. Congress recently passed the Farm Bill, and along with it, it re-authorized the Oilheat Efficiency, Renewable Fuel and Jobs Training Act, informally known as the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA). NORA allows oilheat retailers to pay a small assessment on heating oil sales in twenty-three states to support programs that benefit oilheat customers. Fifteen (15) percent of these funds will go towards energy efficiency measures and oilheat system replacements, which will allow some oilheat dealers to provide energy efficiency services to their customers. While the impact of such federal action will be impactful, NEEP continues to work with our allies in supporting state oilheat efficiency legislation, such as H. 2741 in Massachusetts that would allow for much greater investments in energy efficiency resources for homes and businesses that rely on oilheat.

State Energy Efficiency Proceedings

  • New York Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS) Restructuring Proposal: New York Public Service Commission (PSC) issued a significant order in December approving many changes to the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS) that were outlined in a proposal  by Department of Public Service (DPS) staff this fall. Importantly, the PSC sets in a motion a process to create a new stakeholder advisory board that will replace the current advisory groups, require NYSERDA and the utilities to work together to benchmark their energy efficiency programs and reduce duplication, and revise cost-effectiveness screening methods to move away from requiring programs to screen at the measure level.

The PSC is also exploring new energy and environmental goals for its EEPS programs for the years beyond the 2015, when the current set of programs is set to end. New York is widely seen as having an excellent policy, but has not been able to reach its aggressive energy efficiency goals. Advocates hope that this order can be the first step in re-vamping their energy efficiency programs (NEEP’s comments on the EEPS Restructuring proposal can be seen here).­

  • EmPOWER Maryland 2015-2017 Programs: Maryland stakeholders, led by the Maryland Energy Administration, continue to move forward to renew and continue their energy efficiency programs beyond 2014, when the current program year ends. The EmPOWER Working Group is seeking to alter its avoided cost methodology, how it screens programs for cost-effectiveness, and create a potential study to set savings targets for future years. NEEP has recently worked with MEA and other advocacy groups to provide comment to the Cost-Effectiveness working group and our comments can be seen here.
  • Vermont Demand Resources Plan: The Vermont Public Service Board has begun to consider savings targets and budgets for its 2015-2017 electric energy efficiency utilities as part of the latest Demand Resources Plan proceeding (EEU 2013-01). Among the various scenarios being considered is an aggressive savings level of 3 percent of electric sales by 2019 proposed by VEIC. Comments on the various scenarios are due to the Public Service Board by March 12, with a final decision expected on budgets and savings targets expected in May.

State Legislatures & Energy Efficiency Bills

State legislatures around the region have begun their 2014 legislative sessions. While most will have short sessions because of upcoming mid-term elections, there are still important energy efficiency measures on the table. We are paying particularly close attention to Delaware, where a major energy efficiency title, HB 179, is under consideration, as well as New Hampshire, which continues to discuss how to expand its investments in energy efficiency. And as it’s early in the year, much more is surely on its way. For a list of energy efficiency legislation NEEP is tracking, click here.

December Energy Efficiency Policy Tracker

Christmas fire worksAs 2013 nears its end, important work on energy efficiency policy and programs is still on going. Below are the important proceedings that NEEP is keeping an eye on. And keep an eye out in January for the release of our 2013 Regional Roundup, which will contain our summation of the biggest state policy developments and trends from this past year.

Additionally, we encourage you to attend the Evaluation Measurement and Verification (EM&V) Forum’s Annual Public Meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire next Thursday, December 12. A great opportunity to mingle with decision-makers from our region and participate in discussion about key energy efficiency evaluation topics like cost-effectiveness testing, energy efficiency and air regulations, and net savings! Check out the agenda and register here.

Continue reading

EmPOWER Planning Process Helps Envision Future of Maryland’s Energy Efficiency Programs

Maryland enacted one of the nation’s most aggressive energy savings laws with the EmPOWER Maryland Act of 2008 , calling for a 15 percent reduction in per capita electricity consumption by 2015. The five-year-old law helped lay the foundation for a strong energy efficiency portfolio by the state’s major electric utilities, leading to energy savings of almost 2,250 GWh and demand savings of 1070 MW to date, according to a recent Public Service Commission report.

Empower Maryland

Now, state officials, utilities, and energy efficiency stakeholders are looking beyond 2015, when the current savings targets expire, and to the future of energy efficiency programs in Maryland. The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) recently submitted a proposal to the Public Service Commission (PSC) that seeks to continue and refine its energy efficiency programs, which are known as the “EmPOWER programs” after the 2008 law (MEA’s proposal can be viewed here). To assist with its recommendations, MEA has convened a stakeholder engagement process, called the EmPOWER Planning Group. Highlights had the opportunity to talk with MEA’s Director of Energy Markets, Kevin Lucas about the EmPOWER Planning process and its role in shaping the state’s energy efficiency programs.

The EmPOWER planning process emerged out of MEA’s EmPOWER Planning report to the Maryland Senate Finance Committee this past January, in which MEA called for Maryland to continue its energy efficiency programs while learning from lessons gained in the past few years. Lucas described the planning process as aimed at allowing Maryland to “take a fresh look” at its energy efficiency programs and savings goals in light of its recent experience and changes in the larger energy landscape. “We envision that this is the process that you undergo to run your next 3-year cycle,” Lucas said. “You’ve got to go back and refresh your data and learn what’s been working or not working.”

maryland sealTo this end, the process will focus less on day to day implementation issues and more on the policy framework around Maryland’s energy efficiency programs. In the proposal submitted in July, MEA lays out what Lucas calls an “analytically rigorous process” for developing the next generation of EmPOWER programs. The schedule begins with determinations on avoided energy costs and cost-effectiveness screening, followed by an energy efficiency baseline potential study, and finishing with recommendations on energy savings goals and program design. The PSC will review the elements of MEA’s proposals and provide guidance at each step.

A key deliverable of the EmPOWER planning process will likely be a revised method for setting energy savings goals. Currently, the electric savings goals are linked to per-capita electricity consumption, which has presented difficulties in evaluating the performance of the utilities’ energy efficiency programs against external factors, such as weather and the economy. Instead, Lucas told us that MEA will use the new potential study to create goals that are tied to the success of the EmPOWER programs. “The better option is to set goals that the utilities have control over-how they run and administer their energy efficiency programs,” Lucas stated.

Additionally, MEA has actively incorporated input from stakeholders who may implement and be impacted by energy efficiency programs through the EmPOWER Planning Group. “We took the opportunity presented by the statute to rethink how we set the goals and how you engage with stakeholders,” Lucas explained. The Group takes its structure from Maryland’s recent Long-Term Electricity Report process, run by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Power Plant Research Project, as well as established energy efficiency stakeholder advisory boards through the Northeast region. Meetings are open to the public and utilities, state officials, contractors, and energy efficiency and environmental advocates have the chance to see the analysis that MEA is developing and provide their perspective on program and policy issues.

Josh Craft, Manager of Public Policy Analysis

Josh Craft, Manager of Public Policy Analysis

The EmPOWER Planning process will be a busy one between now and September 2014, when the utilities are set to submit their post-2014 EmPOWER program plans. Thus far, the process has been well received. According to Lucas, “There has been good responsiveness from the utilities and energy efficiency stakeholders.”

An order from the Public Service Commission in early August demonstrates that the Commission is paying attention, and has opened the opportunity for comment on MEA’s proposal at the upcoming EmPOWER hearings in early October. Next year promises to be a pivotal year for energy efficiency in Maryland, and NEEP looks forward to watching —and engaging — as the process unfolds.

Policy Updates from Around the States

Here’s our brief rundown on key developments in energy efficiency policy from around the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states over the last few months:

Energy Efficiency Program Updates

  • Connecticut Draft Decision on Conservation and Load Management (C&LM) Plans: The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) released its draft determination on the 2013-2015 Conservation and Load Management Plans in late August. In the decision, DEEP authorizes a significant increase in electric and gas program budgets, which would increase to $183.6 million for electricity and $51.4 million for gas annually by 2015. While a marked increase, the amount is lower than the amount requested by the utilities to allow for program implementation to catch up. DEEP is currently taking public comments until September 23, 2013 and is expected to issue a final decision in December.
  • Rhode Island 2015-2017 Energy Efficiency Savings Targets: Rhode Island’s Energy Efficiency and Resource Management Council (EERMC) recently endorsed the energy savings targets for its upcoming 2015-2017 energy efficiency plans. Electric savings goals would be about 2.5 percent and natural gas savings goals would be about 1 percent of 2012 sales respectively. Program budget levels will be determined at a later time.

 

  • Massachusetts Results from 2012 Energy Efficiency Programs: Results from the Massachusetts utilities’ 2012 electric and gas programs is now available on the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council (EEAC) website. Data shows that the programs achieved 88 percent of their annual and lifetime electricity savings goals, while spending 79 percent of their budget— and achieved 96 percent of their gas savings goal while spending 102 percent of their budget. The full annual report will be released later this year.

RGGI State Rulemaking Processes

The states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) issued an updated Model Rule for operating state CO2 Budget Trading Programs from 2014 to 2020 earlier this year. The Updated Model Rule modifies the total CO2 emissions budget for the region to align with the actual emissions level of 91 million tons and makes changes to the use of banked allowances. Several states have held hearings over the summer regarding their individual state RGGI rulemaking processes to hear from the public about its views on the revised RGGI program. Connecticut, Vermont, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York have all finalized their public comment processes and will finalize processes later this year. NEEP has submitted comments to these states in support of the updated RGGI Model Rule and will continue to monitor the rulemaking process here and around the region (see more on our State Activities pages).

Legislators Return for Fall Sessions

Josh Craft, Manager of Public Policy Analysis

Josh Craft, Manager of Public Policy Analysis

 

Serafina Zeringo, Public Policy Intern

Serafina Zeringo, Public Policy Intern

Lastly, some states in the Northeast are resuming legislative activity now for the fall session. NEEP will be paying particularly close attention to action in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, as are considering important bills regarding their energy efficiency programs.

 

From the July/August Highlights: Delaware, Maine Strive to Advance Strong EE Policy and Funding Frameworks

NEEP's Policy Highlights Newsletter Banner

Check out our In Focus piece from our July/August edition of Highlights, our public policy newsletter! Natalie has some great discussion about the exciting policy developments in Delaware and Maine.

The end of the legislative session brought cliff hangers for major energy efficiency bills in two states- one a stunning bipartisan rebuke of Maine’s Governor LePage with passage of an omnibus energy bill. The other ending in mild disappointment as the clock ran out for Delaware to pass a bill that would finally create a sustained funding source for its energy efficiency programs.

Maine: Omnibus Bill Will Provide Sustained Efficiency Funding

Efficiency Maine is preparing to greatly ramp up investments in efficiency, thanks to the June 26 passage of LD 1559,  “An Act to Reduce Energy Costs, Increase Energy Efficiency, Promote Electric System Reliability and Protect the Environment.”

The bill, passed by gubernatorial overrides of 121-11 in the House and 35-0 in the Senate, will have significant implications for Maine’s energy future, including expanding natural gas pipeline capacity, increasing funding for thermal efficiency, dramatically ramping up efficiency funding and authorizing the Public Utilities Commission to approve the budget of the Efficiency Maine Trust. This bipartisan bill is being hailed a landmark by business leaders and environmental advocates alike.

Continue reading

June-July Public Policy Tracker: Energy Efficiency Funding Legislation, New York’s Moreland Commission, and Obama on Appliance Standards

Josh Craft, Manager of Public Policy Analysis

Josh Craft, Manager of Public Policy Analysis

The spring 2013 legislative sessions have once again breezed by! This Policy Tracker focuses on the recent developments in energy efficiency policy in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.

Good News, Bad News for Energy Efficiency Programs in the States

Northeast MapRevenue for energy efficiency programs is critical to achieving the energy savings goals in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.  While hydropower from Quebec grabbed the spotlight for legislators this session, both Connecticut and Maine enacted measures that should boost funding for the state’s energy efficiency programs. Connecticut HB 6360, the comprehensive energy strategy bill pending signature by Governor Malloy, creates a new funding mechanism that could double money for electric and natural gas energy efficiency programs in future years. It also promotes revenue decoupling, an important step for promoting utility investment in efficiency. And in Maine, legislators overrode a veto by Governor Paul LePage of LD 1559, a significant and bi-partisan omnibus energy bill.  The bill marks a shift back in favor of energy efficiency there, providing new funding for thermal efficiency program, dramatically increasing efficiency funding for the Efficiency Maine Trust, and restoring Public Utilities Commission (PUC) authority over the budget of the state’s efficiency programs.

Continue reading

The Courage to Act: President Obama’s Climate Action Plan

Obama+2013+Photo+10“The courage to act before it’s too late.” That’s how President Obama framed his address on Tuesday on climate change. Speaking to students at Georgetown University, the President asked for a new generation’s help to keep “the United States of America a leader in the fight against climate change.” The speech laid out a new climate change action plan that includes placing limits on the carbon dioxide emissions from power plants under the Clean Air Act, creating new federal appliance standards that will bring emissions down by 3 billion tons by 2030, as well as programs to increase the efficiency of our commercial, industrial, and multifamily buildings by 20 percent by 2020 (see the details of from the White House here).

Continue reading

State RGGI Raids: A Real Head Scratcher

The diversion of state RGGI funds has everyone scratching their heads.

The diversion of state RGGI funds has everyone scratching their heads.

Some things just make you scratch your head. As Jim’s piece earlier this week illustrated, Connecticut is going to tap funds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to plug holes in the state budget. In the past, New York, New Jersey, and New Hampshire have done the same. The move has provoked strong opposition from a broad array of clean energy and environmental advocates in the region. And for good reason. Even in these tight fiscal times, state lawmakers must keep their hands out of the RGGI “jar” for the sake of their economy and the climate. Continue reading

In Focus: NEEP Congratulates the Boston City Council for Enacting Building Energy Disclosure

Boston SealIn a 9-4 vote, the Boston City Council voted  to adopt energy benchmarking for its large buildings last week. NEEP congratulates Mayor Thomas Menino and the Council for their hard work to advance this landmark energy and environmental initiative. By enacting Docket #726, Boston will become the first city in New England and the eighth nationwide to provide for energy transparency in their buildings.

Manager of Public Policy Analysis

NEEP believes strongly that the new benchmarking ordinance can unlock tremendous energy and carbon savings in Boston’s commercial and industrial building sector, which is responsible for almost half of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.  As we have noted on our blog, evidence from existing programs suggests that benchmarking will drive significant energy savings in Boston’s building stock. And, according to First Fuel Software, almost half of savings in commercial buildings are achievable through low-cost operational improvements. It’s no wonder that such a broad array of groups backed the measure, including Boston Properties, Beacon Capital Partners, Jones Lang Lasalle, Winn Companies, as well as Saunders Hotel Group, the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, A Better City, Boston’s Green Ribbon Commission, and the Boston Society of Architects (BSA).

Building Energy Policy Associate

NEEP is especially proud of the nine councilors who supported this common-sense policy in the face of a desperate campaign to mischaracterize it by a small minority led by the Greater Boston Real Estate Board. Working together, the councilors addressed the concerns raised by residents and tenants and revised the ordinance where necessary. Contrary to opponents’ claims, property values will not be harmed and rents for residents will not rise. In fact, we are confident that the majority of building tenants and operators will achieve cost savings through energy efficiency.

We thank the Mayor for his leadership on energy and environmental policy. With building energy benchmarking enacted, Mayor Menino will leave office not only with a strong record but also an important tool for his predecessor to build upon.

State Energy Efficiency Policy Rundown

Josh Craft, Manager of Public Policy Analysis

May finds many states in the midst of important legislative and regulatory debates that will impact energy efficiency programs throughout the Northeast region. Below is an overview of some of the key energy efficiency proceedings we are keeping tabs on.

Connecticut

Connecticut is in the midst of serious debate about their energy policy future. We are tracking HB 6360, which would implement the major provisions of the Governor’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy. The bill is out of committee and should be headed for a vote soon. HB 6360 would boost energy efficiency revenue by increasing its system benefits charge from 3 mills/kWh to 6 mills/kWh and require its electric utilities to implement revenue decoupling.  It would also require certain large, non-residential buildings to benchmark and disclosure their energy use on an annual basis.

Legislation is not the only route for change, however. The state’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) is actively considering allowing the utilities to increase investment in energy efficiency through a conservation adjustment mechanism (CAM). That proceeding, part of their 2013-2015 Conservation and Load Management (C&LM) plan proceedings, will be ongoing throughout this year.

Building Energy Codes

NEEP has focused much of our building codes outreach work in Maine, where proposals both to enhance and to dilute the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code (MUBEC) have been floating around this session. Prospects for passage of LD 977, which would restore MUBEC for communities above 2,000 residents, look favorable after it passed the Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development.

Moreover, we are also pleased to see that Vermont is poised to create its first “stretch” energy code as part of their omnibus energy bill, H. 520. The provision would apply to large residential development projects as part of compliance with the state’s Act 250 land use planning process. H. 520 is expected to be signed by Governor Peter Shumlin in the coming weeks.

NEEP is also working with states as part of upcoming rule-makings to adopt the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Rhode Island, Washington D.C., and Massachusetts are all actively working to adopt the 2012 IECC.

Building Energy Disclosure

Building energy disclosure policies are increasingly being discussed at the state level. Connecticut includes a fairly robust energy disclosure package for non-residential buildings as part of HB 6360, with benchmarking beginning for the largest buildings starting in January 2014. Vermont is also attempting to move ahead with building energy disclosure. Vermont’s H. 520 would create a working group to study a “consistent format and presentation for an energy rating” for disclosure purposes.

Oil Heat Efficiency Funding

NEEP continues to advocate for legislation that would extend access to energy efficiency programs to customers who rely on oilheat. We look forward to hearings later this summer legislation in Massachusetts on H. 2741, which would create an oilheat energy efficiency fund to supplement the state’s already strong energy efficiency programs. More information about this important legislation can be found at http://www.oilheatsaveenergycoalition.org/.

 RGGI Bills

States made headlines when they moved to lower their carbon budgets for the second phase of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). This important move will enable the region to continue to drive down greenhouse gas emissions and promote energy efficiency and clean energy. Less attention has been given to a number of proposals that would divert investments from their carbon auctions away from energy efficiency and towards other uses. Three states have proposals we are concerned with:

  • In Massachusetts, the House’s FY 2014 budget would use RGGI proceeds to reimburse communities for certain lost revenues as a result of closing of coal plants.
  • In Maine, LD 1425, supported by Governor Paul LePage, would divert RGGI proceeds away from energy efficiency and towards rebates for natural gas conversion and rate reductions for large customers.
  • In New Hampshire, the majority of proceeds will continue to go towards rebates for customers, and new legislation would divert more funds away from the CORE energy efficiency programs.

NEEP looks forward to working with stakeholders from across the region to ensure that RGGI proceeds are invested in energy efficiency, which independent analysis shows is the most economical use of proceeds.

Federal Policy Update

Federal policy decisions have significant implications for energy efficiency policy in the states. Two potentially important developments are working their way through the Congress that stakeholders in the Northeast should be aware of.

  • FY 2014 Budget Request: President Obama’s FY2014 budget proposal includes $200 million for a “Race to the Top in Energy” initiative. Funding would be made available if the initiative is approved for state and local governments that put in place policy and programs to advance energy efficiency and modernizing the electricity grid. Details are available here (see pdf page 499).
  • S. 761, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competiveness Act: S. 761, the Energy and Industrial Competitiveness Act sponsored by Senators Jean Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) advanced through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The bill would support state updates to building energy codes, support state commercial building energy efficiency financing programs, and programs to support industrial and process energy efficiency. The bill now needs to be considered by the full Senate.