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NRRI Insights: Regulatory Questions Engendered by the Texas Energy Crisis of 2021

The February extreme cold weather event in Texas resulted in significant electric outages across the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) system.  The disruptions contributed to the loss of human life, with significant economic harm in the aftermath.  This NRRI Insights paper, by Dr. Carl Pechman and Elliott Nethercutt, delves into the regulatory questions that have arisen from this terrible event.  These questions fall into two general categories: (1) Who should pay the enormous toll of skyrocketing electric prices and how much should be paid? and (2) How do we avoid a recurrence of this failure in the future? 

Download the paper here

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COVID-19 State Response Tracker

NARUC, NRRI, EEI, and other industry groups have coordinated to provide this tool for tracking state responses to COVID-19. This tracker will be updated regularly as additional information becomes available. Click a document type to review its content.

NARUC, NRRI Delegation Supports Puerto Rico Regulatory Training Efforts

As Puerto Rico seeks to rebuild its infrastructure after Hurricane Maria and this year’s devastating earthquakes, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and the National Regulatory Research Institute (NRRI) are working with regulators in Puerto Rico to exchange ideas about similar undertakings on the mainland. To support this effort, NARUC and NRRI are working with the U.S. Department of Energy to establish a regulator-to-regulator exchange of ideas and best practices in the energy, telecommunications, and consumer service areas.

 

NRRI Webinars

Decarbonization and Natural Gas: Industry Perspectives

August 4, 2021 | 2:00 - 3:30 pm (ET)

Register now

Natural gas utilities are planning for a decarbonized future in a variety of ways, including the use of renewable and synthetic natural gas, hydrogen, and high-efficiency gas appliances. The industry also continues to reduce fugitive emissions, an important component of meeting greenhouse gas reduction targets set by many states. At the same time, the role of gas generation in an electric system with increasing amounts of renewable resources is the subject of much analysis and debate. A panel of experts will tackle these and other topics. The webinar will cover the following topics:

  • What are the implications of decarbonization efforts for combined gas and electric utilities?
  • How will renewable natural gas and hydrogen be regulated? Who will regulate price, safety, and availability?
  • What are the latest developments in decarbonizing end-uses for natural gas?
  • What capital investments in gas infrastructure will be needed to support decarbonization?

Moderator:   Jeffrey Loiter, Principal Researcher, NRRI

Panelists:     Hon. Julie Fedorchak, Chair, North Dakota Public Utility Commission

Dr. Susan Stuver, Senior Manager, Hydrogen Technology Center, Gas Technologies Institute

Richard Meyer, VP Energy Markets, Analysis and Standards, American Gas Association

Melissa Adams, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer, Washington Gas & Light

 

Recent Research Papers, NRRI Insights and more

NRRI Insights: Regulatory Questions Engendered by the Texas Energy Crisis of 2021

The February extreme cold weather event in Texas resulted in significant electric outages across the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) system.  The disruptions contributed to the loss of human life, with significant economic harm in the aftermath.  This NRRI Insights paper, by Dr. Carl Pechman and Elliott Nethercutt, delves into the regulatory questions that have arisen from this terrible event.  These questions fall into two general categories: (1) Who should pay the enormous toll of skyrocketing electric prices and how much should be paid? and (2) How do we avoid a recurrence of this failure in the future? 

Download the paper here

NRRI Insights: Rethinking FERC

This paper reviews FERC's mission and its role in carbon mitigation and customer protection. As former FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee opined "the days of FERC being referred to as an obscure agency are over." By regulating the nation's organized markets for wholesale electric and natural gas, FERC plays a critical role in the health of the US economy. It will also play a vital role in determining the success or failure of the country's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect consumers, and move to a more environmentally just society.

Download the paper here

NRRI 19-03 State Responses to Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Restoring Internet Freedom (RIF) order was released in December 2017 and published in the Federal Register on February 22, 2018. The order redefines Broadband Internet Access Service (BIAS) as an information service, regulated under Title I of the Telecommunications Act, rescinds the Commission’s 2015 Open Internet order to oversee Internet Service Providers1 (ISPs) under Title II of the Act, and removes FCC oversight of net neutrality rules. State responses to the RIF order were immediate, although approaches have varied.

Download the paper here

NRRI Insights: Solar Energy that Pays for Low-Income Customers and Communities

This paper highlights the key aspects of program design and implementation that are helping providers deliver cost-saving solar energy and associated products and services to low-income consumers, organizations that provide services to low-income clientele, and disadvantaged communities. The paper also briefly reports on some of the most successful efforts to date.

Download the paper here

NRRI 19-02 State Universal Service Funds 2018: Updating the Numbers

Universal Service is a key component of both federal and state communications policy. Its goal is to ensure that regardless of where they live, all citizens have access to robust, reliable communications services, including broadband connectivity, at affordable rates, with “reasonably comparable service” across the country. The four Federal Universal Service funds (FUSF)—High Cost/Connect America (CAF), Schools and Libraries (E-Rate), Lifeline, and Rural Healthcare—provide financial support to carriers (and, in the case of the Lifeline fund, consumers) to bring 21st century communications services to users across the country.

Download the paper here

NRRI 19-01 Review of State Net Energy Metering

The objective of this paper is to summarize actions now being taken in many states to change rate designs for distributed energy resources (DER) on the customer side of the meter. Net energy metering (NEM) has been the most common rate design used for customers with small-scale generators that provide what is sometimes known as self-service power. Recently, there has been considerable interest in finding alternatives to net metering by legislatures and public utility commissions (PUCs), with some related deliberations underway or recently concluded in at least 48 states and the District of Columbia. These actions sometimes arise from preexisting legislative or regulatory requirements that trigger reviews when the total installed NEM system capacity or energy production, either for individual utilities or statewide, reaches a predetermined threshold. In other cases, regulatory reviews have been requested by utility companies through proposals to replace net-metering with other alternatives.

Download the paper here

NRRI Insights: Telecommunications Questions to Consider as Schools and Businesses Go Online

The COVID-19 virus will have impacts on telecommunications services and systems across the country. This NRRI alert provides some thoughts regarding questions commissions may wish to consider as we move to a “virtual world.”

Download the paper here