Driving energy efficiency too slow

This blog was written by John D. Wilson, former Deputy Director for Regulatory Policy at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Guest Blog | October 22, 2011 | Energy Efficiency, Utilities

Just a brief update for those who are interested in why Florida is moving so slowly on energy efficiency. As recently noted by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, “regulators in Florida … took actions to render their energy savings target ineffective.” Similarly in response, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is protesting the regulatory decision to effectively eviscerate the energy efficiency goals set by the Florida Public Service Commission for Florida Power and Light and Progress Energy Florida.

Yesterday, we filed our brief protesting the rollback decision. Essentially, we are asking the Commission to reconsider its decision under a corrected interpretation of Florida law. Here’s the crux of our legal argument:

The Commission violated Fla. Stat. §366.82(7) … by relying on this statutory provision as authority to effectuate a change in FPL’s and PEF’s applicable conservation goals. This is a clear procedural violation as §366.82(7) only allows the Commission to, following the adoption of goals pursuant to the goal setting provisions of the statute, approve, modify, or deny DSM plans submitted by utilities to ensure the plans meet applicable goals. The Commission simply cannot adopt or change goals pursuant to §366.82(7); rather, the statute is clear and unambiguous in that goals can only be adopted or changed pursuant to §§366.82(2), (3) and (6), Fla. Stat.

… the legislative history of the 2008 amendments to the statute is clear that the Legislature intended for more robust conservation goals to be set, and that the Commission must find ways to meet the goals in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. Thus, the Commission’s orders are in direct contravention to legislative intent.

The brief asks the Commission to either approve the plans submitted earlier this year by the utilities (which the utilities believe will achieve the goals), or to approve the parts of the plans that the Commission believes are reasonable. If the commission only approves part of the plans, it should direct the utilities to file improved plans.

The process for reviewing these plans has now stretched to over a year and a half. During that time, SACE has continuously argued that Florida’s utilities have proposed energy efficiency plans with bloated costs. (See our comments filed here, here, here, here, and hear. Hear! Hear!) Then, Florida utilities have argued that those bloated costs are the reason that the programs should be rolled back. The Florida Public Service Commission’s responsibility is to direct the utilities to develop cost-effective plans that reflect industry best practices, as Susan Glickman recently reminded us.

In their Original Plan Filings, Some Florida Utilities Proposed Energy Efficiency Programs with Bloated Costs

Notes: “Saved Energy Cost” is calculated as the total cost to the utility (program costs plus incentives) per total annual energy savings attributed to those programs, irrespective of measure life. A program with a saved energy cost of 40 ¢ per kWh with an expected measure life of ten years would cost about 4 ¢ per kilowatt hour per year. See tables 2 and 3 of our findings for the data illustrated above.

Ironically, on the same day that the Florida Public Service Commission argued that helping customer save energy was too expensive, it also approved a program that will require existing customers to subsidize the energy bills of new businesses, but the Commission did not examine the costs and rate impacts of that program. Deeply hypocritical and misguided, as energy efficiency promotes job growth and helps existing businesses manage their bottom line.

Guest Blog
My Profile