Mighty Mississippi: Energy Efficiency Plans Approved for State’s Investor-Owned Utilities

Home of the Delta blues and promising new requirements for utility-run energy efficiency programs, Mississippi went down to the crossroads and took a huge step forward toward a cleaner, more efficient energy future.

crossroadsOn June 20, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) submitted comments to the Mississippi Public Service Commission (MPSC) on its recent approval (Order Numbers 2014-0006-330141 and 2014-0010-330143) of two proposed Quick Start Energy Efficiency Plans (Docket Numbers 2014-UA-006 and 2014-UN-10).

The state’s investor-owned electric utilities, Entergy Mississippi and Mississippi Power Co., filed the proposed plans in January 2014 to meet the requirements of the MPSC’s Rule 29, which as we discussed in 2013, calls for the establishment of initial portfolios of three-year energy efficiency programs by the state’s utilities. The plans will be in place from mid-2014 through 2016, and the MPSC will review the resulting energy savings in its consideration of subsequent Comprehensive Portfolio Plans. SACE looks forward to actively engaging in that process and in future MPSC reviews of the programs.

The companies’ efficiency plans will help residential, commercial and industrial customers to reduce their electricity consumption through programs that provide incentives for efficiency investments such as heating and air-conditioning upgrades, improved insulation and air sealing, and the use of efficient compact-fluorescent and LED lighting.

We commend the companies and the MPSC for their efforts to quickly establish initial portfolios of energy efficiency programs, but it is worth noting that there are several areas for improvement in the specific plans that were approved. First, the energy efficiency impacts projected by the companies are very modest, and we recommend that the MPSC establish savings targets that, at a minimum, would put Mississippi on track to meet the energy efficiency goals recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency as part of its proposed Clean Power Plan for reducing the emission of carbon dioxide. We are particularly concerned that the approved programs’ energy efficiency impacts are expected to decline or remain flat in the final year of the Quick Start Plans.

We also provided information on several other topics, including: (1) best practices regarding the recovery of lost revenues, or lost contributions to fixed costs; (2) Quick Start program modifications and additional program offerings for the companies to consider in their Comprehensive Portfolio Plans; (3) sources of clear guidelines for evaluation, measurement and verification; (4) program flexibility guidance for the MPSC to consider as an alternative to the companies’ approaches to addressing over-subscription; and, (5) the importance of establishing a stakeholder working group to discuss the companies’ energy efficiency programs in a non-regulatory proceeding setting.

We are optimistic that Mississippi is building a robust framework for successful energy efficiency programs, and we will be enthusiastically monitoring future developments and providing input as the recently approved plans are implemented and reviewed. With a new path toward energy efficiency, Mississippi may have one less reason to be singing the blues.

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