On August 4, the Mississippi Public Service Commission took a huge step forward in supporting energy efficiency by issuing an order proposing energy efficiency programs and standards. Prior to this order, the state did not have any utility efficiency regulations in place.
The order comes after the Commission opened a docket (2010-AD-2) to investigate developing energy efficiency in January 2010 and then held Collaborative meetings in the third quarter of 2010.
The Collaborative process was funded by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) though stimulus funds. The stimulus funds were dollars well spent, as the Commission’s order yesterday can save all of Mississippi rate-payers money on their energy bills both now and well into the future. Although NARUC funded the Collaborative, it did not dictate the results of the process. Information on the Collaborative, the process used and the intervenors is included in the final report for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.
25 x ’25, the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) and the Sierra Club participated in the Collaborative process on behalf of the energy efficiency community in the Southeast. As shown by the Commission’s order, which drew heavily upon the language suggested by SEEA and 25 x ’25 in a draft rule submitted to the Collaborative, their involvement was important to the outcome we have today.
The proposed rules require electric and gas utilities with more than 25,000 customers (which includes Mississippi Power, Entergy Mississippi,Center Point Energy and Atmos Energy ) to file a “Quick Start” plan with the Commission three months after the rules are finalized, and then follow up with a comprehensive plan 36 months after the rules.
The Commission is using the “Quick Start” plans to achieve a number of objectives:
- Develop increased utility program capability and infrastructure,
- Expand efficiency expertise throughout Mississippi,
- Identify successful program delivery strategies, and
- Deliver energy savings to a significant number of utility customers
As the name indicates, Quick Start programs must be capable of being implemented within four months and use commercially available technologies. The utilities must also provide energy efficiency programs for all customer classes – residential, commercial and industrial.
The rule also provides the utilities with cost recovery for efficiency program costs, and allows the utilities to propose an approach to earn a return on energy efficiency investment. This allows the utilities to earn a profit for selling OR saving electricity, and it is critical for utilities to aggressively implement efficiency.
Given the positive economic and environmental benefit of energy efficiency, SACE hopes that the utilities will support these rules and help their customers save money on their energy bills.
Tags: comprehensive portfolio energy efficiency, efficiency regulation, energy efficiency programs and standards, Mississippi, natural gas energy efficiency, public service commission, quick start energy efficiency
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