center for partnerships & innovation

State Commission Staff "Surge" Calls

"Surge" calls are forums for state public utility commission staff to share how different commissions are approaching new issues in electricity regulation. These peer exchange opportunities enable staff to learn from each other in an open setting. NARUC staff compile non-attributable summaries of staff comments and discussion after each call. 

The next surge call will take place on Monday, March 25 at 3:00 pm Eastern and will discuss performance-based regulation. Contact Kiera Zitelman for details or to request a discussion topic for a future call. 

 

Next Call

State Surge | Performance-Based Regulation

March 25, 2019 | 3:00 - 4:00 pm Eastern

Most electric utilities operate under cost-of-service regulation, under which utilities request approval from state regulators for net resource and infrastructure investment plus an annual rate of return. In response to emerging technologies, changing customer demands, and public policy goals for the energy system, some commissions have begun working towards performance-based regulation (PBR). Under PBR, utility revenue remains largely cost-based, but additional revenue is earned when utilities meet commission-set performance outcomes such as greenhouse gas reductions. On this call, commission staff from Hawaii, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island share how their states are approaching PBR.

 

Past Calls

State Surge | Community-Based Clean Energy

February 25, 2019 | 3:00 - 4:00 pm Eastern

Community solar is expanding rapidly in dozens of states, with 19 states and the District of Columbia already taking legislative or regulatory actions, or both, to establish programming basics. Plus, there are an additional 23 states where one or more utility-sponsored programs is active. Surveys by the Smart Electric Power Alliance identified 171 active utility programs at the end of 2016 and 229 at the end of 2017. GTM Research shows community solar growing rapidly, and estimates the community solar market potential is as large as 60 to 80 gigawatts by 2030, with cumulative capitalization in the range of $100 billion. Plus, there is growing interest about how to extend the benefits of community solar to also apply to community storage or even more generally to any kinds of community clean energy. During this reprise of an engaging panel from the 2019 NARUC winter policy summit in Washington, DC, speakers shared lessons learned and visions of what is on the horizon.

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State Surge | Natural Gas Storage

January 28, 2019 | 3:00 - 4:00 pm Eastern

Natural gas storage for end use in heating and electricity generation is an important component of energy security in many states. Gas is typically injected underground for storage in natural formations including depleted reservoirs, aquifers, and salt formations, and withdrawn as needed. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that 2.5 trillion cubic feet of gas is stored in the lower 48 states and another 50 billion cubic feet is stored in Alaska. Public utility commissions are one of several entities at the state and federal level responsible for regulating gas storage facilities. On this call, commission staff from Alaska, Michigan, and Pennsylvania share perspectives on their oversight of storage operators, focusing on how commissions evaluate upgrades or modifications to existing storage facilities.

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State Surge | Hosting Capacity Analysis

November 26, 2018

With many states responding to growing penetrations of distributed energy resources, state public utility commissions are using a number of strategies to improve the planning and operation of these resources to benefit the grid as a whole. During the NARUC Annual Meeting, the Staff Subcommittee on Energy Resources and the Environment hosted a session on hosting capacity analysis, an emerging tool to visualize the distribution grid. The Interstate Renewable Energy Council defines hosting capacity as "the amount of distributed energy resources that can be accommodated on the distribution system under existing grid conditions and operations without adversely impacting operational criteria or requiring significant infrastructure upgrades." On this surge call, speakers from the panel reprised their discussion of hosting capacity analysis for commission staff. 

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State Surge | Electric Vehicle Rate Design & Ownership

October 29, 2018

With electric vehicle (EV) sales rising, drivers need charging stations available in homes, workplaces, public buildings, and along roads. State public utility commissions have a key role in defining charging infrastructure ownership and rate design. Well thought-out rate design can make EVs a grid resource by encouraging EV owners to charge at off-peak times or during periods of high renewable production. On this call, commission staff from California, Oregon, Hawaii, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky discussed how their states are approaching commercial EV charging rates, offering ideas for how other states might wish to proceed.

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State Surge | IEEE 1547 Implementation

September 24, 2018

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) released a revised distributed energy resource interconnection standard in April 2018, called IEEE 1547-2018. The purpose of the revised standard is to increase DER hosting capacity while improving system reliability. However, IEEE 1547-2018 is not a plug-and-play standard. Via an Authority Governing Interconnection Requirements (AGIR), States must choose performance technologies, define use cases, select inverter settings and functionality, set timelines, and update other relevant standards. In general, the AGIR is the State Commission. On this call, Michelle Rosier from the Minnesota Public Utility Commission walked state staff through Minnesota's experience with IEEE 1547-2018. 

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State Surge | Energy Efficiency Measurement & Verification

August 23, 2018

This staff surge call explored staff questions around energy efficiency (EE) evaluation, measurement, and verification (EM&V) processes. The discussion focused on setting baselines, who performs EM&V analyses, and who identifies and approves EE measures. EM&V documents EE baselines, efficiency actions/measures, and energy savings. State Commissions have an important role overseeing customer-funded EE programs at regulated utilities, with Commission staff looking closely at EM&V and other program data to make determinations about program effectiveness. Steve Schiller from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab served as a guest moderator for a conversation with staff from Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, and Washington about how EM&V works at different commissions.

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State Surge | Community Solar

July 30, 2018

Rooftop solar panels can be inaccessible to low-income residents, apartment dwellers, renters, or other constituencies. Community solar programs have emerged as a way to make solar accessible to everyone by allowing ratepayers to share in an offsite solar facility and receive credit on their electricity bills for their proportion of exported electricity. This call will feature state staff from Illinois, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia to share how community solar programs are structured to increase participation, involve hard-to-reach customers, overcome financing barriers, and contribute to the growth of solar power. 

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State Surge | Preparing for Electric Vehicles

June 25, 2018

Despite varying levels of electric vehicle penetration, many states are preparing for substantial EV growth in the near future. California, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Michigan staff shared how each state is approaching two critical issues for EV growth: rate design for EV owners and deployment of charging infrastructure. 

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State Surge | Evaluating Reliability Investments

May 14, 2018

NARUC’s Center for Partnerships & Innovation and the Staff Subcommittee on Energy Resources and the Environment convened a state commission staff “surge” call, on which state staff from Alabama, Florida, California, and New Jersey discussed how states are considering utility investments in grid hardening and reliability, particularly in the face of higher damages from extreme weather. These states deal with tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms, flooding, and wildfires, and utilities have varying ideas for how to reduce the likelihood of outages. Commission staff shared what investments utilities are making, best practices for rapid recovery, and new tools Commissions should be aware of to improve reliability as the frequency and duration of extreme weather events increase. 

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State Surge | New Approaches to Distribution System Planning

April 9, 2018

NARUC’s Center for Partnerships & Innovation and the Staff Subcommittee on Energy Resources and the Environment convened a state commission staff “surge” call, on which state staff from Hawaii, Washington, Indiana, Ohio, and Rhode Island discussed different distribution system planning (DSP) strategies. Across these five states, there are some clear similarities in goals of DSP: multiple staff cited pursuing least-cost solutions, achieving renewable portfolio goals, and providing the most current information as DSP objectives. Commission staff agree on the importance of stakeholder engagement, improving transparency, and educating commissioners, commission staff, utilities, and others involved in the process. However, states diverge in the paths to these objectives. 

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State Surge | Distribution System Planning for Abundant Distributed Energy Resources

September 18, 2017

With rapid growth in DER installations, utilities and commissions are paying closer attention to the capability of the distribution grid to handle these additional resources. State commission staff from Michigan, California, and Minnesota provided an udpate on where each state is in reassessing distribution system planning policies to integrate DERs. 

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State Surge | The Future of PURPA

July 11, 2017

Passed in the aftermath of the 1973 energy crisis, the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) has now been in effect for nearly four decades. Despite a few PURPA amendments and multiple, broad changes in electricity markets, most states have not significantly updated their PURPA rules and buy-back rates since fairly soon after the law was passed. As a result, large and small qualifying facilities (QFs, in PURPA-speak), including renewable-powered generators and particularly distributed generation, could still have difficulty gaining the market foothold PURPA was initially designed to enable. Several states are reexamining PURPA implementation in light of current conditions. Join state public utility commission staff from Michigan, Oregon, Montana, and Massachusetts to discuss each state's approach to updating PURPA rules and where these efforts might lead the electricity sector. 

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State Surge | Energy Storage Valuation 

March 24, 2017

NARUC's Lab hosted a call on March 24, 2017, as part of our "surge" effort to link state staffers to learn from each other. This call focused on how various state commissions are considering the costs and benefits of energy storage. This document summarizes presentations from Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, and Arizona commission staffers and discussion among other state staffers. 

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State Surge | Wherefore Art Thou, Carbon Trading? 

February 6, 2017

NARUC's Lab hosted a call on February 6, 2017, as part of our "surge" effort to link state staffers to learn from each other. This call focused on carbon trading programs in the northeast and California: the conception and structure of these programs and their future potential for continued operation or expansion. This document summarizes presentations from Maryland and California staffers and discussion among other state staffers. 

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State Surge | Enhanced Oil Recovery

September 23, 2016

State staff came together for a technical assistance "surge" to explore enhanced oil recovery (EOR), and the implications for state regulators.  We summarized the information-sharing that happened in this summary, and it's well worth a read if you want a starting point for understanding how state agencies understand and address this policy topic.  

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State Surge | IT Spending

September 9, 2016

The NARUC Research Lab convened state public utility commission staffers on a "surge" technical assistance call to learn from one another about how much utilities should be spending on information technology (IT) investments. 

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