Energy Debates Help Summer Heat Up

Energy Fairness is on the road again, enjoying 110 degree highs in Phoenix. Back in D.C., energy debates are heating up the Beltway atmosphere, but we also found some bright spots to share.

The Senate is working on appropriations bills, but partisan divides mean that many “riders” aimed at rolling back rules and programs set in motion by the Obama Administration aren’t viable this year. For example, language that would halt the unpopular and sweeping “Waters of the U.S.” rule won’t be included.

With Energy Fairness now formally a part of the National Energy & Utility Affordability Coalition (NEUAC) we are encouraged to see appropriators supporting the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) right around the FY18 omnibus amount of $3.64 billion. It’s not full funding, but it’s not the program’s demise some rightly feared when the Administration’s budget zeroed it out.

Last week, the Department of Energy (DOE) shared some good news. The agency’s Office of Nuclear Energy announced $64 million in funding for 89 research projects focused on advanced nuclear technology. Continuing and improving research leads to more knowledge and useful innovations, but also helps sustain the next generation nuclear workforce. Learn more about the projects here.

Thousands are gathered in D.C. for the World Gas Conference. Many events will touch on trends we comment on frequently – growing globalization of the natural gas markets and future price/supply impacts. Case in point, FERC Chairman McIntyre last week described that his agency is receiving so many applications for construction of LNG export terminals, they’ve had to hire outside contractors to handle the workload.

While gas owns the D.C. energy media week, other fuel sources are keeping up the Resilience drumbeat. The Nuclear Energy Institute sent DOE Secretary Rick Perry a strong letter, with an impressive and bipartisan signature list, advocating for policies that keep nuclear in the mix, for the sake of national security and environmental stewardship. As it notes, “nuclear plants have up to two years’ worth of fuel on site, providing valuable fuel diversity and increasing the resilience of our electrical grid by eliminating the supply vulnerabilities that face some other forms of energy supply.”

The Resilience debate will continue to heat up all summer; we’ll come back to this important topic to highlight where common sense ideas (hint – the ones that value keeping a diverse mix of always-on, affordable resources) are prevailing.


Net Metering Debates Heat Up

Net metering policies evolved in several states this year, including Michigan, Connecticut, and Maine. Meanwhile, other states such as Kentucky saw heated battles sure to return.

PACE supports changes in net metering laws that bring more fairness to the system – paying retail rates instead of avoided costs for net metering subsidizes electricity bills for a small number of residents and puts more costs on low and fixed-income families.

Increasingly, states are taking a hard look at their net metering policies and aiming to bring payments in line with market rates, despite strong pushback from the renewable energy industry.

Net metering reform continues as one of the most controversial battles in domestic energy policy. This year, Michigan and Connecticut passed important reforms that bring fairness to net metering payments. Maine’s Governor Paul LePage protected consumers by once again vetoing legislation that sought to undo similar reforms in his state.

At PACE, we support policies that promote affordable energy for all. We absolutely believe in the value of solar as a clean, renewable energy source.

But if states sustain true net metering, they are essentially saying that private solar electrons (rooftop or ground-mount systems at an individual home or business) are worth more and that everyone must chip in to pay for them.

It’s important to protect against policies that allow a small number of customers to have their energy costs subsidized by everyone else, including many low and fixed-income families.

States are right to carefully examine their net metering policies to ensure net metering payments accurately reflect private solar grid benefits and costs, and that those payments don’t distort the energy marketplace by paying excessive rates for private solar generation.

We’ll keep you posted on the latest developments with net metering as debates continue across the country. This fall, watch for an update of our 2017 report. We’ll provide a snapshot by state and U.S. territory of the current policies, recent significant developments, and our assessment of whether policies properly value all consumers.


Hedging Happens Every Day

Everyone needs to manage risk. We do it in our daily lives both personally and professionally. Utilities are no different. PACE has spent the last few weeks highlighting natural gas hedging after the Missouri legislature passed a resolution supporting the continued use of this essential, though often misunderstood practice.

Today’s infographic explains the top five benefits of natural gas hedging, from protecting consumers to supporting national security. We hope you will find this graphic useful as you think about all the ways you manage risk every day. #HowDoYouHedge?