Covers the latest PUC dockets from across the country.
Not rendering correctly? View this email as a web page here.

DocketDigest

News and Insight into the Latest Advanced Energy Dockets

Dear AEE Members and PowerSuite Subscribers,

In this issue of DocketDigest, Hawaii abruptly ends their highly successful net metering program, Arizona agrees to study the costs and the benefits of solar, and America's bird - the bald eagle - gives North Dakota regulators pause on a potential wind farm. In addition, for a deeper dive on community solar, check out our recent blog post.

We would love your feedback. Please send any comments or suggestions to Coley Girouard (cgirouard@aee.net).

Note: All docket links in DocketDigest go straight to PowerSuite. If you don’t have an account yet, you can register here.

This issue covers these topics:

  • Community Solar
  • Demand Response
  • Electric Vehicles
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Fixed Charges
  • Grid Modernization
  • Net Metering
  • Rate Case
  • Rate Design
  • Resource Planning
  • Time Varying Rates
  • Utility Ownership
  • Wind

Community Solar 


Minnesota: 15-825

  • In this proceeding which opened September 10, 2015 Minnesota Power submitted plans for two solar gardens, a 40 kW array and 1 MW array.
  • Initial comment period closes November 5, 2015. Reply comment period closes December 3, 2015. Approval is expected in early 2016.
  • Further Reading: Duluth News Tribune

Oregon: UM 1746

  • The PUC is investigating a community solar program design, as a result of House Bill 2941 passed in June 2015, with a recommendation due to the state legislature by November 1, 2015.
  • On October 16, 2015 there was a special meeting where staff presented 15 attributes for the Commission to include in their final recommendation. The Commission will submit their final recommendation to the legislature on October 30, 2015.
  • Further Reading: House Bill 2941

Wisconsin: 3279-TE-101

  • Madison Gas & Electric Company in this proceeding submitted a proposal to implement a voluntary 500 kW community solar pilot. If approved, up to 250 customers would be able to enter into an agreement for a 250 watt to 3 kW ownership share for a one-time fee of $47.25 per 250 watts. Participants will then receive their pro-rata share of the generation for a fixed price of 12 cents per kWh for up to 25 years. Initial analysis by MG&E said customers would likely receive a payback in 17 years.
  • There is currently no procedural schedule.
  • Further Reading: Journal Sentinel

Demand Response

California: R1309011

  • Opened in 2013, the ultimate goal of this proceeding is prioritizing demand response (DR) as a resource to competitively bid into the CAISO market. On October 16, 2015, Commissioner Florio and ALJ Hymes proposed rulings that addressed the valuation of load modifying demand response and demand cost-effectiveness protocols after 2018. Both decisions determine that event-based load modifying demand response has no capacity value.
  • Opening comments on the proposed decision are due November 5, 2015 with reply comments due November 10, 2015. 

Electric Vehicles

California: A1502009

  • In this proceeding PG&E's original $654 million proposal to build 25,100 EV charging stations through 2022 was denied in favor of more hearings. PG&E was allowed to move forward with a maximum of 2,510 charging stations to be deployed over the next two years. On October 12, they filed a revised proposal with two options. The first proposal is only to move forward with the 2,510 charging stations over the next two years at a rate based cost of $87 million. The second proposal would include an additional 7,500 charging stations over three years at a rate based cost of $222 million. This proposal came as a result of California Executive Order B-16-2012, which set a target of putting 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) on the roads in California by 2025.
  • Intervenors can comment through November 16, 2015. Evidentiary hearings will begin February 8, 2016 and a proposed decision is expected in June 2016.
  • Further Reading: Greentech Media

Energy Efficiency

Minnesota: 15-920

  • This proceeding was opened by Northern States Power (Xcel Energy) for approval of a light emitting diode (LED) street lighting rate. As part of a new five-year $100 million plan they want to replace streetlights with LEDs in all eight states they serve. More specifically, Xcel wants to replace 100,00 streetlights (their entire service territory) in Minnesota over the next five years. This comes on the heels of Xcel in 2013 installing 500 LED streetlights as part of a pilot in West St. Paul. The pilot concluded the new lights provided better illumination, reduced maintenance and fuel costs as well as provided significant energy savings.
  • The Commission has yet to respond to the proposal.
  • Further Reading: Star Tribune

Missouri: EO-2015-0240 and EO-2015-0241

  • These proceedings are KCP&L Greater Missouri Operations (GMO) Company and KCP&L-Missouri's request to establish a demand-side management program that would go in effect from January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2018. GMO's plan proposes to save 232,000,000 kWh over the three year period, compared to realized savings of 115,000,000 kWh over the previous three years. KCP&L-MO's plan proposes to save 234,000,000 kWh over the three year period compared to realized savings of 63,000,000 kWh over the previous three years.
  • Evidentiary hearing is November 3 to 5, 2015 with post-hearing briefs by November 20, 2015.  

Montana: D2014.6.53

  • The Montana PSC voted to get rid of a Lost Revenue Adjustment Mechanism (originally approved in 2005) which allowed NorthWestern Energy to raise rates in order to cover lost demand from energy efficiency programs. This decision will result in $12.7 million in reduced revenues for NorthWestern Energy next year and has the potential to negatively effect existing utility energy efficiency programs. 
  • The Commission said the LRAM does not eliminate the throughput incentive and have opened the door to consider decoupling, if proposed by NorthWestern Energy in a separate docket.
  • Further Reading: The Montana Standard

North Carolina: E-2 Sub 936

  • In this proceeding Duke Energy Progress proposed on October 2, 2015 modifications to their residential home energy improvement program. Interesting things they have proposed include: replacing the single incentive provided for the installation of high efficiency HVAC equipment with a three-tiered incentive structure based on the efficiency of the HVAC system, and providing Wi-Fi-enabled smart thermostats that are programmed at the time of installation.
  • The Commission has yet to respond to the proposed modifications. 

Fixed Charges

Arizona: E-01345A-13-0248

  • Arizona Public Service (APS) proposed an increase to their interconnection fee for rooftop solar customers from an average of $5 to $21 per month. On September 25, 2015 APS offered to withdraw their proposal if the ACC promptly scheduled hearings to investigate the broader question of the value of distributed solar on the grid and a cost of service analysis. On October 8, 2015 APS filed a cost of service summary which concluded it costs $118 per month to serve a typical residential solar customer. On October 20, 2015 the Commission approved the application of APS to withdraw their proposal.
  • The ACC agreed to study the costs and benefits of solar between now and June 1, 2016 in a separate docket.
  • Further Reading: AZ Central

Grid Modernization

Minnesota: 15-556 

  • This proceeding was opened as an electric utility grid modernization proceeding with a focus on distribution planning. The first meeting on September 25, 2015 covered issues MN is facing with the current grid.
  • The next two stakeholder meetings focused on distribution planning will be held on October 30 and November 20, 2015. By February 2016 the PUC is expected to issue a summary report on the meetings and recommended next steps. 

Net Metering

California: R1407002

  • In 2013, AB 327 was signed into law which directed CPUC to design a successor or alternative tariff for net metering and to grow customer-sited renewables in low-income communities. In this proceeding SDG&E, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Southern California Edison filed plans on the future of net metering. The utilities proposed below retail electricity rate remuneration for distributed power sent to the grid. Their proposals range from $0.08 per kWh to $0.11 per kWh, while their average retail electricity rates range from $0.15 per kWh to $0.23 per kWh. On October 8, 2015, AB 693 was signed into law that creates the Multifamily Affordable Housing Solar Roofs Program. The Commission is ordered to allocate funds from 2020 through 2026 for the program.
  • The ALJ has requested comments by October 30, 2015 on how the statutory requirement of AB 327 should tie into the program created by AB 693 with reply comments due by November 11, 2015.
  • Further Reading: GreenTech Media

Hawaii: 2014-0192

  • The Hawaii PUC in this proceeding, closed traditional net metering for new customers and subsequently approved two new interconnection tariffs. The first tariff is a "self-supply" option, which does not allow customers to export energy to the grid and includes a $25 minimum bill for residential customers and $50 minimum bill for small commercial customers. The second tariff is a "grid-supply" option, which will credit customers at a fixed rate (below retail) between 15 and 28 cents per kWh, depending on the island the customer lives on. The Commission also has ordered the HECO companies to re-file their TOU proposals to provide DER customers with more effective pricing signals to drive efficient electricity consumption behavior. 
  • The new options are available to customers starting October 21, 2015. By November 11, 2015 the HECO companies must re-file their TOU proposal. Phase II of this proceeding, focused on policies to further integrate DER, will begin with a technical conference by or before November 11, 2015. 
  • Further Reading: Pacific Business News

Iowa: NOI-2014-0001

  • This proceeding was opened in January 2014 to gather information related to policy and technical issues, including net metering and interconnection, associated with distributed generation. On September 1, 2015 the Board issued an order that opened a workshop to discuss proposed changes to interconnection rules.
  • Comments in response to the workshop on October 6, 2015 are due November 6, 2015 with reply comments due by December 1, 2015.
  • Further Reading: Iowa Utilities Board

Iowa: FCU-2015-0009

  • This proceeding was opened by Eagle Point Solar (EPS) to dispute Interstate Power & Light's net metering tariff. Today, large general service (LGS) customers are not eligible to net meter, which EPS claims is illegal under Iowa law. Additionally, some existing LGS members want to be able to switch to general service (GS) in order to net meter and to eliminate their demand charge. Unfortunately the way it is set up today, if your demand is greater than 20,000 kW for any month during the year you cannot switch rate classes. EPS is claiming this has trapped LGS customers for a minimum of twelve months who wish to install renewable energy generation to reduce their usage numbers.
  • IPL and other intervenors were allowed to file comments up until October 23, 2015. No further schedule has been set. 
  • Further Reading: Midwest Energy News

New York: 15-01526/15-E-0407

  • On October 16, 2015 the NY PSC suspended all caps on retail net metering until the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) proceeding sets the value of DER.
  • REV is not supposed to reach a final decision on the value of DER until the end of 2016. All six IOUs in NY must file net metering tariff revisions by October 30, 2015 which will go into effect November 6, 2015.
  • Further Reading: Utility Dive

Rate Case

California: A1509001

  • This is Pacific Gas & Electric's proposed 2017-2019 general rate case. If approved, electric and gas bills would increase by 3% for the typical customer.
  • A prehearing conference is set for October 29, 2015 with comments on the conference due by October 23, 2015 The conference will decide on, among other things, a procedural schedule. PG&E initially proposed a final decision by December 2016.
  • Further Reading: Zacks

Idaho: AVU-E-15-05

  • This is Avista Utilities' general rate case. On October 19, 2015 a joint settlement was reached which would increase the monthly electric bill for a residential customer by 0.9 percent and increase their base rate revenues by $1.7 million next year. They also agreed on a 9.5 percent ROE (down from a 9.9 percent proposed ROE).
  • A final decision is expected in December 2015.
  • Further Reading: The Spokesman-Review

Missouri: ER-2016-0023

  • Empire District Electric Company has filed for a general rate increase with the MPSC. They are seeking an annual base rate increase of $33.4 million (7.3 percent) which would increase the average residential customers bill by $12 a month. Empire said they are seeking the increase because of increased transmission, maintenance, and administrative expenses as well as to pay for a mandated solar rebate program.
  • Applications to intervene are due by November 4, 2015 and a prehearing conference is scheduled for November 10, 2015. The tariffs will not be effective until September 14, 2016.
  • Further Reading: MarketWatch

Texas: 44941

  • This is El Paso Electric's general rate case. Interesting components of the proposal include an $8.41 monthly increase for the average residential electricity customer (11.8 percent average increase), a special rate for solar customers which would add $12 to their average monthly bill (23.56 percent average increase), a proposed return on equity of 10.1 percent, and experimental DR and EV pilots.
  • A decision is not expected until the second quarter of 2016.
  • Further Reading: El Paso Inc.

Rate Design

Wisconsin: 6630-TE-101

  • In this proceeding, Wisconsin Electric Power (WEPCO) proposed an experimental economic development rider which would allow a printing company, Quad Graphics, and potentially other manufacturers to buy additional power at wholesale market prices, increasing the value proposition to expand operations in Wisconsin. WEPCO has ample excess capacity and so they contend that offering this discounted rate will not cost other ratepayers. In addition the Commission ruled that other companies that want to apply for this rider must have over 5,000 employees in Wisconsin, and must have applied for at least $15 million in tax credits to expand in the state.
  • Applications for the rider will be accepted until June 2016.
  • Further Reading: Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel

Resource Planning

Idaho: AVU-E-15-01 and PAC-E-15-03

  • This proceeding was opened to modify the terms of PURPA purchase agreements. In the original decision in Order 33357, the Commission reduced the length of IRP-based PURPA contracts from twenty years to two years. On September 10, 2015 Clearwater Paper and J.R. Simplot Company petitioned for reconsideration, claiming the new two year term limit fails to provide each QF with a fixed price for energy and capacity calculated at the time the QF obligates itself to sell its output to an Idaho utility.
  • The Commission granted the petition for reconsideration and will issue a final order by November 5, 2015.

Virginia: PUE-2015-00035

  • This is Dominion Virginia Power's 2015 integrated resource plan for the planning period 2016-2030. An interesting part of the plan, which Dominion says will help them comply with the CPP, is the construction and operation of 1,453 MW of nuclear-powered generation at the Company's North Anna Power Station. The plant would cost $19 billion and would mean an average rate increase of approximately 25.7 percent over current Virginia retail residential rates.
  • The Commission (SCC) held a hearing on October 20, 2015. The Commission has an obligation to review and report to the Governor and the General Assembly on the Company's 2015 Plan by December 1, 2015.
  • Further Reading: Energy Collective

Virginia: PUE-2015-00006

  • On October 20, 2015 the State Corporation Commission (SCC) denied an application from Dominion Virginia Power to construct a 20 MW solar facility (their first utility scale facility) because it did not seek third-party alternatives. A new state law requires the utility to provide evidence whether lower-cost alternatives exist.
  • The docket was closed and Dominion has to refile an application that meets all of the statutory requirements if they wish to proceed.
  • Further Reading: The Energy Fix

Time Varying Rates

California: R1206013

  • On June 21, 2012, the CPUC instituted this rulemaking to examine current residential electric rate design, including the tier structure in effect for residential customers, the state of time variant and dynamic pricing, potential pathways from tier to time variant and dynamic pricing, and preferential residential rate design to be implemented when statutory restrictions are lifted. On September 24 the Commission directed SCE, PG&E, and SDG&E to each prepare a menu of at least three opt-in time-of-use rate design pilots to begin in 2016. One pilot must include a rate design with a more complex combination of seasons and time periods than traditional TOU and start by October 1, 2016. All other pilots must start by June 1, 2016. On October 16, the ALJ issued a scoping ruling on Phase III of this proceeding which will focus on: interpretation of Public Utilities Code Section 745 (default TOU Rates), changes to the California Alternative Rates for Energy (CARE) program, requirements for supporting information for the 2018 residential rate design window (RDW) applications and general TOU pilot implementation issues.
  • TOU pilot proposals must be submitted by January 1, 2016. On November 17, 2015 there will be a residential electric rate summit. In the first quarter of 2016 there will be a CARE program restructuring workshop. Opening Briefs on Pub. Util. Code § 745 issues due by December 23, 2015 with a proposed decision by February 2016.
  • Further Reading: California Public Utilities Code Section 745

Utility Ownership

District of Columbia: FC1119

  • This proceeding is on the proposed Exelon-Pepco merger. The deal puts the Exelon-owned Baltimore Gas & Electric, PECO Energy and Commonwealth Edison together with the PEPCO Holdings-owned PEPCO, Delmarva Power, and Atlantic City Electric. The DC PSC rejected the merger on August 25, 2015. On October 16, 2015, DC Public Power, filed a notice of intent to purchase PEPCO's DC assets. The newly formed non-profit claims the move would be a win-win, allowing Exelon to move forward with the merger in all other states, and saving ratepayers in DC as much as $1.2 billion over the next twenty years.
  • By October 16, 2015 the PSC had requested comments on whether or not to accept Exelon's motion for reconsideration. DC Public Power has requested a hearing on their proposal, and they say if approved the Exelon merger could move forward as early as October 29, 2015. However, the Commission has yet to make a decision on DCPP's proposal or Exelon's motion for reconsideration and the case could possibly stretch into early next year.   
  • Further Reading: GreenTech Media and Seeking Alpha

Ohio: 14-1693-EL-RDR

  • American Electric Power, similar to First Energy, have proposed to buy power from their own power plants through a PPA. AEP argues that the long term contracts are necessary to ensure their power plants stay open and to ensure reliability. In February, the commission rejected a smaller but similar plan as part of their electric security plan but left the door ajar by saying it was legal if it benefited customers. On October 9, 2015 the Commission Staff recommended to reject the proposal.
  • It is unclear when the Commission will make a ruling.
  • Further Reading: The Columbus Dispatch

Texas: 45188

  • On September 29, 2015, Hunt Consolidated and various other investors filed for approval to acquire the largest T&D utility in Texas, Oncor. If approved, Hunt would take control of Oncor, valued at $17.6 billion, and convert it into a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). Hunt would restructure the utility into two parts, as an asset company and an operating company. PUCT Commission Anderson and others have raised concerns over the REIT structure, and its effect on their borrowing ability and how they would react to potential disruptions in revenue.
  • A technical conference has been scheduled for October 28, 2015. The Commission is required to make a final decision in this docket by March 27, 2016.
  • Further Reading: SNL

Wind

North Dakota: PU-15-124

  • This proceeding was opened in March 2015 by Rolette Power Development LLC for a site permit for a $175 million, 100 MW wind farm. In June 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said there were several bald eagle nests in close proximity. This testimony has caused some pause on moving forward and Rolette Power Development has said that if approved this issue may delay development by up to a year.
  • An additional hearing is set for November 2, 2015 to gather more information on the potential impact.
  • Further Reading: The Bismark Tribune