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Saturday, February 11, 2017

National Regulatory Research Institute Colloquium

Meeting Room 3
2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.



Rajnish Barua, PhD, Executive Director, NRRI


Sherry Lichtenberg, PhD, Principal Researcher-Telecommunications, NRRI

Telecommunications Regulation: The Year in Review 2016 and the Outlook for 2017

2016 saw a reduced focus on telecommunications deregulation and an increased focus on growing broadband availability, broadening state universal service fund contributions, and ensuring the availability and quality of emergency services. Only two state legislatures proposed bills limiting commission oversight of wireline services during 2016 (bringing the number of states reducing commission oversight to 41), with no state directly addressing the question of regulating VoIP or IP-enabled services. The early outlook for 2017 shows a potential reversal of this trend, with a bill limiting regulation of incumbent carriers proposed in New Mexico, and a bill limiting oversight of IP-enabled services on the table in Minnesota. This presentation will review the findings from NRRI's 2016 report on changes in telecommunications legislation and provide an early look at bills proposed for the 2017 legislative sessions.

Ken Costello, Principal Researcher-Energy & Environment, NRRI

Bridging Natural Gas to a Low Carbon Future: The Debate

Up until recently there was wide consensus that natural gas could be a bridge fuel for electric generation. Now some environmentalists and others have argued that public policy should bypass natural gas and instead accelerate the penetration of renewable energy. Their reason is that unless we pursue this path climate warming will become an irreversible problem. Several questions arise as to what role natural gas will play in electric generation until 2050.

Tom Stanton, Principal Researcher-Energy & Environment, NRRI

Reimagining State Interconnection Rules for Distributed Generation Plug-and-Play Procedures

Interconnection rules have been adopted by at least 32 states and the District of Columbia. Those rules describe the procedures that applicants and utilities use to ensure that DG interconnection requests are processed expeditiously and will cause no harm to the utility system or any other utility customer’s equipment. This presentation reviews the many changes that are presently being developed in IEEE and UL standards working groups. These include updated standards for advanced inverter capabilities and advanced grid communications protocols. In addition, rapid progress in the modeling software used for evaluating the effects from proposed DG on utility distribution systems are enabling faster interconnection screening and studies of practical mitigation strategies to resolve many interconnection technical challenges. Together, such changes offer the combined promises of: (a) decreased application processing timelines and costs? (b) more, better, and less expensive mitigation tools for ensuring the reliable and safe operations of interconnected DG? and (c) higher levels of distribution system grid hosting capacity for DG.

Kathryn Kline, Research Associate, NRRI

Small Water System Opportunities: Surveying State Utility Commissions for Best Practices

In 2013, NARUC passed a Resolution supporting the consideration of regulatory mechanisms and policies deemed "Best Practices" for the regulation of Small water systems which provided a series of 10 recommendations for how commission staff could encourage regulated small water systems to meet the challenges of continued capital investment required to deliver safe and reliable service to customers. Building off of that work, this presentation examines initial findings from NRRI's survey of states about different methods utilized by state commissions to assist regulated small water systems: What are commissions doing? What has been successful? What is on the horizon?