center for partnerships & innovation

Emerging Issues

Innovation Webinars

Emerging Issues

Every month, the NARUC Center for Partnerships & Innovation organizes an Innovation Webinar on an emerging issue in electricity regulation. Held on Thursdays from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET, these educational webinars are open to the public.

With support from the U.S. Department of Energy, CPI is pleased to connect its members and the public with new research, subject-matter experts, and diverse opinions on a variety of issues relevant to public utility commissions. Presentation slides and recordings for past webinars are posted on this webpage.

 

Upcoming Innovation Webinars:

 

Leveraging Behavioral Strategies to Drive Building Decarbonization

September 17, 2020 | 3:00 - 4:00 pm Eastern

How can we optimize the use of energy efficiency (EE) programming to meet state goals? Based on a recent report released by Oracle and the Analysis Group, panelists will discuss strategic energy efficiency programming, including the short and long-term benefits of investing in structural energy efficiency (SEE) and behavioral energy efficiency (BEE) programs.  

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Emerging Possibilities for Bulk Energy Storage

October 22, 2020 | 3:00 - 4:00 pm Eastern

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Where the Wind Blows: Offshore Wind Outlook for State Regulators

November 19, 2020 | 3:00 - 4:00 pm Eastern

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Threat Information Sharing Around Cybersecurity

December 10, 2020 | 3:00 - 4:00 pm Eastern

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Understanding and Unlocking the Potential of Cloud Computing and Artificial Intelligence to Improve Utility Service

January 21, 2021 | 3:00 4:00 pm Eastern

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Past Innovation Webinars

 

When regulators consider “renewables,” this often refers to the significant advances in wind and solar energy. This exciting discussion, “Renewable Technologies on the Horizon” will highlight the distinct resources that could be the next household names in renewable innovation. Featured speakers include Jason Feldman, Green Era Co-Founder, Cristina Negri, Director of the Environmental Science (EVS) Division at Argonne National Labs, and Dr. Ufuk Erdal, Senior Vice President, Water Reuse National Technology Director at ARCADIS and Director at the Water Research Foundation. Each expert will share their perspective and experience in how renewable natural gas, sustainable agriculture, and direct potable use water filtration, respectively, might significantly alter how states continue to employ renewable resources.

Moderator: Commissioner Maria Bocanegra, Illinois

Speakers:

  • Jason Feldman, Co-Founder, Green Era Sustainability
  • Cristina Negri, Director of the Environmental Science (EVS) Division at Argonne National Labs
  • Dr. Ufuk Erdal, Senior Vice President, Water Reuse National Technology Director at ARCADIS, Director at the Water Research Foundation

View presentation

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Historically, determining the energy savings associated with energy efficiency programs has been, at best, an annual task, with sometimes tenuous feedback loops for meaningful program improvements. Recent advances in metering infrastructure, computing power, and industry-vetted algorithms are enabling new possibilities. Energy efficiency savings are now measurable on a monthly to near-real-time basis and leading states and utilities are taking meter-based energy efficiency into the field to improve existing programs and support innovative pay for performance program designs. Learn about the basics of the open-source CalTRACK methods and the “OpenEEMeter” codebase, how Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is using energy efficiency procurement to achieve and validate energy savings, and how Energy Trust of Oregon is getting contractors used to new approaches for verifying the quality of their work.

Moderator: Commissioner Kimberly O'Guinn, Arkansas

Speakers:

  • Carmen Best, Director of Policy & Emerging Markets, Recurve
  • Ben Brown, Expert Program Manager, Pacific Gas & Electric
  • Mark Wyman, Senior Program Manager, Energy Trust of Oregon

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On May 29, 2020, the National Association for Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ (NARUC) Center for Partnerships and Innovation (CPI) facilitated a peer exchange among utility commissions across the country on how they have adjusted to conducting commission activities virtually. Five quick-moving commissions (California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Washington) shared insights on what kinds of transition approaches their commissions have used at this point; how they’ve operated from a logistical and tactical perspective; and what strategies they are using to ensure proceedings, workshops, and related activities are meaningful and continuing in the public interest.

View peer exchange summary

States around the country are pricing carbon emissions from electricity generation. How can a carbon price be incorporated into commission decisions from performance-based ratemaking to cost-benefit analyses? Learn from states and experts that are tackling the integration.

Moderator: Jackie Ashley, Senior Regulatory Analyst, British Columbia Utilities Commission

Speakers:

  • Long Lam, Managing Consultant, Guidehouse (Formerly Navigant Consulting)
  • David Littell, Senior Advisor, Regulatory Assistance Project
  • Dr. Kevin Rennert, Fellow, Director of Social Cost of Carbon Initiative, Resources for the Future

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Two and a half years after the devastation of Hurricane Maria, many things have changed in Puerto Rico’s energy sector. The U.S. Department of Energy, NARUC, and NRRI have been assisting the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau in their efforts on distribution system planning, resilience, and recovery. Speakers provided a progress update.

Moderator: Carl Pechman, Director, NRRI

Speakers:

  • Ferdinand Ramos, Commissioner, Puerto Rico Energy Bureau
  • Samir Succar, Director, Distributed Energy Resources, ICF
  • Jennifer DeCesaro, U.S. Department of Energ

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Increasing the capacity and performance of electric transmission is key to achieving state goals, from increased resilience to integrating renewables. On this webinar, experts discussed improvements in advanced transmission technologies and regulatory options for deploying these solutions.

Moderator: Chairman Sally Talberg, Michigan Public Service Commission

Speakers:

  • Jennie Chen, Senior Counsel, Federal Energy Policy, Duke University Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
  • Bruce Tsuchida, Principal, The Brattle Group
  • Kerinia Cusick, Co-Founder, Center for Renewables Integration
  • Jon Wellinghoff, CEO, GridPolicy Inc., and former Chairman, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

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    Last year, NARUC’s Center for Partnerships and Innovation and the National Council on Electricity Policy released a Mini-Guide on State Agency Coordination During Energy-Related Emergencies. This webinar provided an overview of that document and highlighted key takeaways. Webinar participants learned more about:

    • How state energy offices, public utility commissions, and state emergency management agencies coordinate prior to and during energy emergencies: What works well? What doesn’t?
    • What traits states with good energy emergency coordination possess.

    Panelists discussed their experiences coordinating with their state partners during energy emergencies and relayed the methods they use for improving state preparedness.

    Moderator: Commissioner Jay Balasbas, Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission

    Speakers:

    • Megan Levy, Local Energy Programs Manager and Energy Assurance Coordinator at the Wisconsin Office of Energy Innovation
    • Lisa Gorsuch, Emergency Preparedness Manager, Oregon Public Utility Commission
    • Patrick Cox, Deputy Director, Operations Division at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management

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    How can utilities help large customers achieve their own renewable energy goals as they approach very high penetrations of renewables? Panelists provided multiple perspectives that highlight differing views on the future of electric utility regulation in this context as states seek to achieve a reliable, affordable, and flexible power system.

    Moderator: Julie Baldwin, Manager, Renewable Energy Section, Michigan Public Service Commission

    Speakers:

    • Jeff Lyng, Director of Market Development and Regulatory Affairs, Xcel Energy
    • Daniel King, Team Lead - Product Strategy and Development, Xcel Energy
    • Stephen Chriss, Director, Energy and Strategy Analysis, Walmart Stores, Inc.
    • Lori Bird, U.S. Energy Program Director, World Resources Institute
    • Lisa Schwartz, Deputy Leader, Electricity Markets and Policy Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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    How do research institutions (National Labs, utilities, universities, entrepreneurs) connect with regulators? Panelists reviewed the nexus between R&D and utility regulation, and shared some exciting programs to lift innovation off the ground.

    Moderator: Commissioner Sarah Freeman, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission

    Speakers:

    • Janet Besser, Managing Director of Regulatory Innovation & Utility Business Models, Smart Electric Power Alliance
    • Cyril Yee, Principle, RMI Ventures
    • Paul Loeffelman, Director of Environmental Public Policy, American Electric Power

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    Attendees heard about new analysis showing that energy efficiency can be a cost-effective option for meeting peak power needs, and how utilities are using their EE programs to reduce peak across the grid. Historically, quantification of the costs and benefits of electricity efficiency programs have focused largely on the economic value of annual energy reductions. With increasing need for a more flexible and resilient electricity system, and changing costs for generation, utilities must take into account all characteristics of efficiency programs — including peak demand reduction — to ensure a reliable system at the most affordable cost.

    Moderator: Wally Nixon, Arkansas Public Service Commission

    Speakers:

    • Natalie Mims Frick, Energy Efficiency Program Manager, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)
    • Rachel Gold, Senior Manager, Utilities Program, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE)
    • Angela Long, Planning Manager, Customer Solutions, PacifiCorp

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    Funds from the Volkswagen Settlement present an excellent one-time opportunity for states to shore up their electric vehicle charging infrastructure—if they can navigate the required interagency coordination.

    Moderator: Commissioner Maria Bocanegra, Illinois Commerce Commission

    Speaker:

    • Nick Nigro, Founder, Atlas Public Policy
    • Hanna Terwilliger, Economic Analyst, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
    • Dan Weekley, Vice President of Energy Innovation Policy & Implementation, Dominion Energy

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    Wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, and other natural disasters are growing more frequent and severe. These events have the potential to cause widespread, prolonged outages. On this webinar, speakers shared strategies on collaboration between the federal government, state public utility commissions, utilities, and other stakeholders to ensure that energy infrastructure, particularly the electricity distribution system, is resilient to these growing threats. The discussion offered perspectives on the following questions:

    • How are utilities hardening distribution infrastructure to deal with extreme weather?
    • What does resilience mean to energy regulators, and how is it measured?
    • What tools are available to understand the costs and benefits of storm hardening and resilience investments?

    Moderator: Commissioner Tim Echols, Georgia Public Service Commission

    Speakers:

    • Craig Zamuda, Senior Policy Advisor, U.S. Department of Energy
    • Pete Larsen, Deputy, Electricity Markets & Policy Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab
    • Brian D'Agostino, Director of Fire Science & Climate Adaptation, and Katie Giannecchini, Meteorologist, San Diego Gas & Electric

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    Across the electric power industry, a diverse stakeholder community applies a variety of methodologies to assess the value of different actions. These options range from investments in generation, transmission, or distribution assets to compensation mechanisms for distributed technologies. The resulting value assessments often vary widely for the same or similar types of projects. In response to this phenomenon, the Valuation Framework Guidelines document offers a framework that provides guidance to those who seek or rely on valuation studies for:

    • Implementation of clear, transparent, and repeatable valuation processes; and
    • Practices that can generate results that are easier for decision makers and the broader stakeholder community to understand, interpret, and compare.

    The Valuation Framework Guidelines document is an output of the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium project, “Grid Services and Technologies Valuation Framework Development”. A team of national laboratory personnel have organized its development through a review of existing valuations and standards, experience with valuation exercises, and discussions with a stakeholder advisory group (SAG) comprised of industry, regulators, and other organizations.

    View presentation

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    Valuation Framework documents:

    Cybersecurity threats to infrastructure are growing and consequences could be devastating. This webinar highlighted key cybersecurity principles and how electric and gas utilities implement them to enhance resilience.

    View recording

    Energy efficiency (EE) programs have reduced electricity consumption and saved ratepayers money for decades. With new technologies entering the market, how are states changing the way they look at EE programs? This moderated discussion provided an overview of state efforts to enhance EE programs to deliver environmental, economic, and social benefits by expanding the definition of energy efficiency, directing strategic utility investments, and improving cost-benefit analyses of a wide range of EE solutions. Panelists discussed recent legislation and regulatory developments in Massachusetts that can serve as learning opportunities for other states as well as a broader view of other efforts to grow the EE toolkit.

    Moderator: Commissioner Ann Rendahl, Washington Utilities & Transportation Commission

    Speakers:

    • Maggie McCarey, Energy Efficiency Division Director, Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources
    • Todd Olinsky-Paul, Project Director, Clean Energy Group
    • Pat Stanton, Director of Policy, E4TheFuture

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    Stakeholders are a key party for all Commissions though stakeholder engagement techniques vary from state to state. On this webinar, we took a closer look at a recent, robust stakeholder process in the District of Columbia, called "Modernizing the Energy Delivery System for Increased Sustainability" (MEDSIS).

    Moderator: Wally Nixon, Commission Legal Advisor, Arkansas Public Service Commission

    Speakers:

    • Naza Shelley, Attorney Advisor, DC Public Service Commission
    • Susan Mora, Director of Utility Innovation, Exelon/Pepco
    • Sharon Allan, Chief Innovation Officer, Smart Electric Power Alliance

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    This webinar explored what regulators can learn from past efforts to use performance incentive mechanisms (PIMs) to enhance utility regulation. PIMs are one regulatory, outcome-based, revenue recovery augmentation tool that provides a financial incentive for the utility to meet performance goals. Traditionally, PIMs have been used to drive improvements in specific public policy goals such as energy efficiency, service quality, and, at times, demand response and customer service. Lately, states are looking to apply PIMs to broader public policy goals and increased utility performance overall.

    Moderator: Commissioner Marion Gold, Rhode Island Public Utility Commission

    Speakers:

    • Commissioner Abigail Anthony, Rhode Island Public Utility Commission
    • Peter Cappers, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

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    Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) shared updates on state approaches to distribution system planning, grid modernization, and integrated resource planning. Topics included analyses of the accuracy of past integrated resource planning (IRP) load forecasts and utility procurement.

    Moderator: Commissioner M. Beth Trombold, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio

    Speakers:

    • Juan Pablo Carvallo, Sr. Scientific Engineering Associate, LBNL
    • Lisa Schwartz, Deputy Leader/Energy Efficiency Team Lead, LBNL
    • Natalie Mims Frick, Energy Efficiency Program Manager, LBNL

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    While there is clear evidence that energy demands by the water sector are rapidly evolving, there has been no comprehensive effort to project these changes into the future. To fill this gap, energy to provide water services was mapped at the regional, state and county level for the contiguous U.S. This study estimated electricity use in 2012 and project to 2032 for large-scale conveyance, agricultural pumping, drinking water, and wastewater services. These projections are important for forecasting future energy loads posed by the water sector and for identifying regions where rapid change is possible.

    • Moderated by Vice-Chairman Jack Betkoski, III, Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority
    • Presenters: Vincent Tidwell, Sandia National Laboratories
    • Guest Panelists: Katie Couglin, LBL; Peter Keegan, American Water

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    This webcast was part of a four-part series on the water-thermoelectric energy nexus in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories.

     

    Performance of 1,080 thermoelectric plants across the contiguous US under future climates (2035–2064) was evaluated. Joint consideration of engineering interactions with climate, hydrology and environmental regulations reveals the region-specific performance of these energy systems. Despite climate–water constraints on individual plants, the current power supply infrastructure shows potential for adaptation to future climates by capitalizing on the size of regional power systems, grid configuration and improvements in thermal efficiencies.

    • Moderated by Commissioner Mary-Anna Holden, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities
    • Presenters: Ariel Miara, City University of New York; Jordan Macknick, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
    • Guest Panelists: Emily Gruber, Georgia Tech

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    This webcast was part of a four-part series on the water-thermoelectric energy nexus in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories.

    Consideration of water supply in transmission expansion planning (TEP) provides a valuable means of managing impacts of thermoelectric generation on limited water resources. Toward this opportunity, thermoelectric water intensity factors and water supply availability (fresh and non-fresh sources) were incorporated into a recent TEP exercise conducted for the electric interconnection in the Western United States. The goal was to inform the placement of new thermoelectric generation so as to minimize issues related to water availability. Conduct of this exercise highlighted the importance of integrating water into all phases of TEP, particularly joint management of decisions that are both directly (e.g., water availability constraint) and indirectly (technology or policy constraints) related to future thermoelectric water demand, as well as, the careful selection of scenarios that adequately bound the potential dimensions of water impact.

    • Moderated by Chair Nancy Lange, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
    • Presenters: Vincent Tidwell, Sandia National Laboratories
    • Guest Panelists: Carl Zichella, NRDC; and Michael Bailey, WIEB

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    This webcast was part of a four-part series on the water-thermoelectric energy nexus in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories.

    Estimates of operational water withdrawal and water consumption factors (i.e., gal/MWh) for electricity generating technologies in the United States were developed. Estimates were collected from published primary literature and were not modified except for unit conversions. Estimates were distinguished by fuel type, prime mover, cooling type, emissions controls, and location. More recently, power plant operations have been shown to impact water use through the idling and cycling of power generation.

    • Moderated by Commissioner John Rosales, Illinois Commerce Commission
    • Presenters: Jordan Macknick, National Renewable Energy Laboratory: and Vincent Tidwell, Sandia National Laboratories
    • Guest Panelist: Robert Lotts, Director, Palo Verde Water Resources, Arizona Public Service

    View presentation

    View recording

    This webcast was part of a four-part series on the water-thermoelectric energy nexus in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories.