Industry leaders launch initiative to evolve state regulatory processes for energy industry

Published on March 20, 2019 by Kevin Randolph

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A group of national nonprofit organizations and industry leaders announced Monday an initiative that aims to evolve state regulatory processes for the power sector.

The Renovate initiative is convened by the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA). Janet Gail Besser, who recently joined SEPA as a managing director, will lead the initiative.

“I am thrilled to be joining SEPA at this pivotal moment in the organization’s focus on regulatory innovation,” Besser said. “This groundbreaking initiative will help address the challenges in meeting customer needs and increased expectations for a modern grid enabled by new technologies, while continuing to provide clean, affordable, safe, and reliable electric service.”

A task force identified problem statements to guide the initiative’s focus to begin the initiative. The problem statements include issues related to the steep learning curve for all industry participants, managing system risk and uncertainty, managing the increased rate of change and the balancing and cross-coordination of multiple priority sets.

“Through Renovate, we have a great opportunity to come together as an industry to resolve regulatory challenges in order to better serve our customers and the communities we serve,” Adam Benshoff, executive director of regulatory affairs at the Edison Electric Institute, said. “The key is finding solutions that keep energy reliable, affordable, secure, and increasingly clean for everyone in a rapidly changing world.”

The Renovate initiative is launched in partnership with the American Public Power Association (APPA), Edison Electric Institute (EEI), Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC), National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissions (NARUC), National Association of State Energy Offices (NASEO), National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), National Governors Association (NGA), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI).

“State commissions are focused on balancing the needs of many stakeholders and have constrained resources for developing processes to better understand emerging innovations and issues,” NARUC President Nick Wagner said. “That is why we are pleased, and find it important, to have partnerships such as we have with the Renovate Initiative and its wide range of stakeholders.”

The next phase of the initiative will involve working with a task force of stakeholder representatives and partners to identify a set of solutions to designated problem statements. It will also include identifying, assessing and benchmarking existing regulatory innovations, both domestically and globally, and developing and publishing key illustrative case studies.

“Our nation’s clean energy transition will go faster and more smoothly if we can change how utilities are regulated, so that rather than relying so heavily on trial-type procedures, final decisions reflect more flexible and collaborative approaches,” Ralph Cavanagh, energy co-director of the climate and clean energy program at the NRDC, said. “Otherwise costs and delays will remain excessive, and public involvement will suffer.”