Visual Primer: State Commissions Grapple With Impacts of Utility Disconnection Bans

In light of the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, state utility commissions are taking different approaches to mitigate the impacts on utilities and ratepayers. Several states have extended moratoriums on service terminations while directing utilities to proactively engage in outreach programs to inform customers about payment assistance and plans. Others have allowed utilities to resume disconnections for nonpayment as costs of unpaid bills continue to mount.

FERC Opens Wholesale Electricity Markets to Distributed Energy Resources

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Sept. 17 approved a long-awaited rule, directing regional grid operators to open their markets to distributed energy resource aggregations. The order removes barriers preventing these resources from competing on a level playing field in the wholesale capacity, energy, and ancillary services markets. The rule requires regional grid operators to…...

Florida Commission Approves Reduction in Gulf Power’s Storm Restoration Costs

The Florida Public Service Commission on Sept. 15 authorized a settlement allowing a $5 million reduction in Gulf Power Company’s restoration costs related to Hurricane Michael, which caused widespread power outage and infrastructure damage upon making landfall in October 2018. In a November 2019 filing, the company requested approval to recover about 295 million. As…...

Michigan Regulator Slashes Consumers Energy’s Natural Gas Rate Increase by 40 Percent

The Michigan Public Service Commission on Sept. 10 ratified a settlement allowing Consumers Energy Company to increase its natural gas rates by $144 million, which is approximately 40 percent less than the utility’s initial request. Under the new rates, effective Oct. 1, residential customers will see a 9.1 percent increase in their monthly bills. In its…...

California Takes Steps to Ensure Equity for Disadvantaged Communities in Climate Adaptation Strategies

The California Public Utilities Commission on Aug. 27 issued a decision providing guidelines on how regulated energy utilities should address vulnerabilities caused by climate change and engage with disadvantaged communities on adaptation measures. The decision ensures equitability by requiring utilities to minimize the climate-related impacts of infrastructure, operations, and service changes for the most vulnerable…...

Michigan Regulator Orders Utilities to File Distribution Plans to Advance Grid Modernization

The Michigan Public Service Commission on Aug. 20 ordered DTE Electric Co., Consumers Energy Co., and Indiana Michigan Power Co. to file electricity distribution and maintenance plans consistent with the goals set forth in MI Power Grid – Michigan’s grid modernization initiative.  MI Power Grid,  launched in October 2019 with support from Democratic Governor Gretchen…...

EnerKnol’s Visual Primer – Distributed Generation Compensation Evolves to Reflect Benefits With Greater Accuracy

Recently, state regulators have stepped up efforts to value distributed energy resources (DERs) more accurately while looking for ways to better reflect the costs they impose on the grid. Among recent actions, New York adopted a mechanism to move the market towards more cost-reflective rates, while California decided to include avoided transmission costs in the valuation, and Connecticut unveiled a study on quantifying the benefits of these resources.

New York Imposes $10.75 Million Fine on Con Ed, Orange & Rockland for Inadequate Storm Response

The New York Public Service Commission on Aug. 13 adopted a settlement with Consolidated Edison Company of New York Inc. and Orange and Rockland Utilities Inc. resolving an investigation into the utilities’ response to power outages during two consecutive winter storms in 2018.  The joint agreement provides ratepayer value of $10.75 million paid for by…...

Illinois Regulator Probes Utility Practices to Ensure Safety, Reliability

The Illinois Commerce Commission on Aug. 12 opened an inquiry to gather information regarding its rules and regulations governing public utilities, in order to ensure safe and reliable electricity and natural gas services. The move follows a gas explosion in Baltimore, Maryland on Aug. 10 wherein a property in the northwest region of the city…...

Indiana Commission Extends Payment Arrangements for Customers Affected by Pandemic

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission on August 12 issued an order directing  jurisdictional utilities to maintain their policy of offering extended payment arrangements for a minimum of six months to all customers through October 12. The order pertains to the first phase of the commission’s investigation into the impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic on…...

Over 85 Percent of U.S. Power Plants Switched From Coal to Natural Gas Since 2011: EIA

From 2011 to 2019, the U.S. repurposed 121 coal-fired plants to burn other fuels, of which 103 switched to natural gas, according to an Aug. 5 report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The agency attributed the trend to stricter emission standards, low gas prices, and more efficient natural gas turbine technology. Of the 316.8-gigawatts…...

Florida Utilities Receive Approval to Advance Storm Protection Plans

The Florida Public Service Commission on Aug. 10 approved agreements on the storm protection plans filed by four of the state’s investor-owned utilities. A 2019 law directed utilities to file 10-year plans to reduce restoration costs and outage times associated with extreme weather events and enhance reliability. The agreements resolve issues in the plans filed…...