In November 2018, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) issued an order setting a date of June 30, 2020, for Consumers Energy Company (Consumers) and DTE Electric Company (DTE) to file updates to their five-year distribution investment and maintenance plans. The order provided guidance on what should be included in the next versions of the plans.
On November 1, 2018, Northern States Power Minnesota, d/b/a Xcel Energy, filed its first Integrated Distribution Plan (IDP), fulfilling the requirements of an IDP Order issued by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) on August 30, 2018. The comprehensive filing includes a wealth of information regarding the current state of the distribution system, notice of near-term investments, and a 15-year roadmap of potential future investments. The plan highlights Xcel Energy’s focus on customers, linking the grid investments to the expected customer benefits and new offerings. Xcel Energy notes that it intends to formally request approval for the investments and bring forward the costs and benefits for the MPUC’s approval through future IDP/grid modernization filings or as part of a general rate case.
In April 2017, Duke Energy proposed a $13 billion, 10-year plan to modernize North Carolina’s electric system. Dubbed the Power/Forward Carolinas initiative, Duke had proposed grid hardening, resilience, advanced metering infrastructure, and smart grid investments. However, after opposition from environmental groups, the plan was scaled down to $2.5 billion over a three-year period. Although settlement was filed with the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) on June 1, 2018, on June 22, 2018, the NCUC rejected the Power/Forward Carolinas initiative outright without taking into consideration the settlement agreement.
On October 8, 2018, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) of Nevada approved an Order requiring Nevada’s public electric utility, NV Energy, to incorporate Distributed Energy Resources (DERs), such as solar and energy storage, into its three-year system plan. The Order, in meeting the requirements of Senate Bill 146, requires NV Energy to submit a Distributed Resources Plan (DRP) as part of its triennial integrated resource plan.
On September 10, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown, signed Senate Bill 100 (SB 100) into law. SB 100 commits California to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045. With SB 100, California joins Hawaii and New Jersey as the first states committing to 100% carbon-free energy.
On April 10, D.C. Council members Mary Cheh and Charles Allen introduced the Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Authority Act of 2018, calling for several notable and unprecedented changes to distribution planning. Specifically, the bill introduces a new independent body that would undertake several activities normally performed by electric utilities, including non-wires alternative (NWA) planning and evaluation, customer data sharing, and distribution resource plan (DRP) development.
On April 11 and 12, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) held a technical conference to address the participation of distributed energy resource (DER) aggregations in markets managed by independent system operators (ISOs) and regional transmission organizations (RTOs) and, more broadly, the potential effects of DERs on the bulk power system (Dockets RM 18-9 and
In February 2018, the Missouri Senate passed a bill aimed at simplifying the rate case process and providing incentives to encourage Missouri utilities to invest in infrastructure improvements. Senate Bill 564 (SB 564) will affect Missouri utilities Ameren Missouri, Empire District Electric Company, Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L), and KCP&L Greater Missouri Operations (GMO). This bill now lies with the Missouri House of Representatives, where the House Utility Committee has proposed HB 2256, an amended version of SB 564. If passed by the House in an upcoming vote, the bill will head back to the Senate for further legislation and negotiation. Previous attempts to modernize the current rate case framework have not been fruitful; however, a successful outcome for this bill could offer Missouri utilities an improved rate structure by January 2019.
On November 8, 2017, Rhode Island energy agencies submitted to Governor Raimondo a report which outlined recommendations for transforming the state’s electrical grid and utility business models. The report, “Rhode Island Power Sector Transformation,” is the latest development in a proceeding initiated by Governor Raimondo in April in which she challenged the state’s energy agencies to consider three broad questions related to the future of the state’s electric grid:
In May 2017, FERC held a technical conference on wholesale energy and capacity market design that focused on Regional Transmission Operators (RTOs) and Independent System Operators (ISOs) in the Eastern Interconnect, including ISO New England (ISO-NE), New York ISO (NYISO), and PJM Interconnection (PJM). The goal of the conference was to examine emerging issues between state policies and wholesale power markets, but little consensus emerged, as participants focused on the issues and remedies that hit closest to home.
California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) staff have estimated that “more than 80% of California’s investor-owned utility (IOU) customers will get their electricity from alternative sources by 2025, and at least 30% will have done so by the end of this year.” Among alternative electricity supply options, Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs) are proving exceptionally popular, with growth outpacing expectations. Local governments and municipalities in California are increasingly using CCAs to achieve more control over electricity supplies, driven by the desires of many citizens for cleaner, cheaper sources of electricity and CCAs’ focus on renewable energy supply options.
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