Regulatory Matters – Second Quarter 2018

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New Standards of Conduct for Door-to-Door Marketing of Electricity

Massachusetts – Electric

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities is implementing new standards of conduct for the door-to-door marketing of electricity that include the following for all personnel: (1) produce and display identification clearly stating the competitive supplier or electricity broker’s name and logo, and the individual’s first name, photo, and identification number; (2) provide a phone number on request that the customer can call to verify the identity of the individual and competitive supplier or electricity broker they are representing; (3) identify the competitive supplier or electricity broker that he/she represents upon commencement of a sales call; and (4) may not represent, in any way, that he/she is affiliated with the local distribution company (the utility) serving the customer.

Legislation for Unaccounted-for-Gas Investigation

Connecticut – Natural Gas

Legislation has been introduced in Connecticut aimed at reducing the threshold amount for which the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority must investigate a gas company regarding unaccounted-for-gas (unaccounted-for-gas is the difference between the total gas that a gas company purchases and the amount it ultimately delivers to customers and includes losses due to leakage, theft and gas use by the company). If approved as currently drafted, the legislation would become effective October 1, 2018 and would reduce from three percent to one percent during a calendar year the threshold for which the Authority would have to conduct a formal investigation. Current law requires a gas distribution company to report leak detection and monitoring procedures, emissions reduction strategies in addition to leak repair, and any other requirements the Authority deems relevant.

Supreme Court Reverses Public Utilities Commission Decision

New Hampshire – Electric & Natural Gas

The New Hampshire Supreme Court issued a decision reversing the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission’s order denying the petition of Public Service Company of New Hampshire d/b/a Eversource Energy and Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC for approval of a Precedent Agreement for firm gas transportation and storage services between Eversource and Algonquin (referred to as the Access Northeast Project). In its order, the Commission concluded as a matter of law that the proposal was in conflict with the New Hampshire restructuring statute. However, in its decision, the New Hampshire Supreme Court stated, “We disagree with the PUC’s ruling that the legislature’s “overriding purpose” was “to introduce competition to the generation of electricity.” Rather, as the statute provides, the legislature intended to “harness[ ] the power of competitive markets,” RSA 374-F:1, I, as a means to reduce costs to consumers, not as an end in itself.” The Court went on the conclude that the Commission erred in dismissing Eversource’s petition as a matter
of law and sends this matter back to the Commission for further proceedings. The New Hampshire Supreme Court acknowledges that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court interpreted its state electric restructuring law differently than the New Hampshire Supreme Court interpreted New Hampshire’s restructuring statute.

New York ISO Issues Power Trends Report

New York – Electric & Natural Gas

The New York Independent System Operator (NY ISO) released its annual Power Trends report, which provides an in-depth look at the forces impacting the future of the New York electric grid. The report discusses new technologies and how the growth of renewables and distributed energy resources are changing the dynamics of energy consumption (and production). NY-ISO has proposals to connect more than 400 MW of battery storage capability to the grid, as well as the first proposed offshore wind project for New York State – a 96 MW project off the coast of Long Island. Major findings include the following: (1) Power plants fueled by natural gas provide 58 percent of New York’s total generating capacity and 48 percent of New York’s total generating capacity is comprised of dual-fuel units. These facilities, predominantly located in downstate New York, offer the flexibility of operating on natural gas or an alternative fuel (typically oil), as determined by market signals or reliability requirements. (2) The New York grid is characterized by stark regional differences, as the downstate supply mix is less diverse than the upstate supply mix. Several factors have resulted in the power demands of New York City and Long Island being served with local generation primarily fueled by natural gas. These factors include transmission constraints and reliability standards that establish local generation requirements in the downstate region. However, many of these are dualfuel units capable of using oil when necessary — which provides fuel diversity and reliability benefits to the system. (3) Low natural gas prices drove low wholesale electric energy costs in 2017. The average wholesale electric energy price ($36.56 per megawatt-hour) was up slightly from $34.28 in 2016.

Rule Changes to Promote Informed Decision Making

Illinois – Electric

The Illinois Commerce Commission has implemented new retail electricity sales and marketing rules effective May 1, 2018 applicable to all retail electric suppliers. The rule changes adopted by the Commission are to allow customers to make informed decisions when choosing an electricity supplier. Some of the noteworthy changes include: (1) agents must provide shoppers with a single-page disclosure statement that clearly explains prices and fees for electric service, the length of contract, whether the rate is fixed or variable, the customer’s right to rescind/cancel, and any applicable termination fee; (2) door-to-door agents must receive training, pass a criminal background check, and be adequately monitored; (3) solicitation phone calls that last longer than two-minutes and every sales call that leads to an enrollment must be recorded and saved by the supplier; and (4) information about the supplier must be available online, and customers must be notified about upcoming rate changes or if a contract is nearing expiration or renewal.

State of Electric Competition

Connecticut – Electric

The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority submitted to the Legislature its annual report on the State of Electric Competition. The report includes various details and statistics on customer complaints; residential and business standard offer service rates; and the number of suppliers and aggregators operating within the state. In 2017, Connecticut had 51 suppliers and aggregators serving approximately 475,000 customers including 30% of all electric distribution company customers and accounting for roughly 59% of all electricity sales.

Energy Market and Reliability Assessment – Summer 2018

National – Electric

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued its Summer 2018 Energy Market and Reliability Assessment. This report reflects the Commission Staff’s summer outlook on electricity and natural gas markets and reliability for the upcoming summer season, and includes the following: (1) electric generation capacity is sufficient to meet forecasted demand; (2) the North American Electric Reliability Corporation anticipates that power resources will be able to meet required levels in most regions this summer; (3) nationwide, this may be a record summer for natural gas demand for electric generation and the Energy Information Administration forecasts that natural gas production will climb to a near record high through June, July, and August; (4) natural gas will be a significant resource for electricity generation; and (5) the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration forecasts an above-normal chance for higher than average temperatures for the West, South and East for June, July and August (New England has the greatest chance of seeing higher than average temperatures this summer).

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