This is the third in a series of blog articles exploring a report issued by an Ohio legislative committee regarding the future of Ohio’s energy efficiency, peak demand reduction and renewable benchmarks for Ohio regulated electric utilities, as outlined in Ohio Revised Code Sections 4928.64 and 4928.66.

The first article in this series presented the deficiencies of the Energy Mandates Study Committee’s cost-benefit analysis. The second article discussed the Committee’s proposed extension of the “freeze” of the statutory energy efficiency, renewable energy and peak demand reduction benchmarks. This article will discuss the recommendation for an expedited process for Electric Utility Energy Efficiency and Peak Demand Reduction (“EE/PDR”) plans for 2017 and onward.

The Energy Mandates Study Committee’s second recommendation is to “provide an expedited process at the PUCO” in order to review “new utility [energy efficiency and peak demand reduction] plans.” (Report begins at page 13).

The Committee’s stated goal for this recommendation is to ensure that new plans will be effective by January 1, 2017. In addition, the Committee notes concern that interested parties should have the ability to “be heard” on any new plan. This recommendation is unnecessary, given that:

  1. an expedited process (that includes opportunity for input from interested persons) for consideration of EE/PDR plans already exists;
  2. the Commission already addressed the timing issue in a recent Entry; and
  3. four of Ohio’s six investor-owned electric utilities (“IOUs”) have filed their EE/PDR plans

The Committee’s recommendation for “an expedited process” seems unnecessary, as a detailed and prescriptive procedural process exists. It was developed by Commission staff (with the input of several interested parties) and was employed several times (simply search for “electric POR cases”) between 2009 and 2014. The current process, presented in Ohio Administrative Code Section 4901:1-39-04, requires all EE/PDR plans to be filed in a timely manner (by April 15th of every third year). The process includes a brief 60-day window for objections to plan specifics by interested persons and requires a subsequent hearing to determine if the plan is cost-effective. The nearly 8-month window is usually enough to complete the process, from the initial filing by the utility to a final Commission Order. Prior to and between filings, each IOU regularly hosts collaborative stakeholder group meetings to discuss program content, effectiveness, and future plans. Thus the process is already well-organized and expedited.

Ironically, three IOUs recently requested a waiver of the April 15th filing date due to “pending Committee recommendations and potential legislative action with respect to future EE/PDR requirements.” The utilities asked for a six-month delay in order to react to potential legislative modifications of the State’s energy efficiency and peak demand reduction requirements. The Commission granted a two-month waiver until June 15. Uncertainty created by the Committee’s report is the source of the only significant delay in an otherwise consistent, efficient and ongoing process.

Three Ohio IOUs have already filed their EE/PDR plans. The FirstEnergy Companies (Ohio Edison, Toledo Edison and Cleveland Electric Illuminating) filed in accordance with the rule on April 15.

The other three Ohio IOUs will file by June 15. Thus, the Committee should acknowledge the existing process and abandon this recommendation.