CURRENTS: The Rolling Portfolio Framework, the Energy Efficiency Coordinating Committee, and Why to Participate as a Stakeholder in the Program Administrator Business Plan Development

Our Winter 2015 edition of CURRENTS provided some coverage of the CPUC’s Proposed Decision on the new rolling portfolio structure for energy efficiency program planning (first released in August, and updated/rereleased in October), including discussion of the launch of the Energy Efficiency Coordinating Committee.

Since then, we have moved more a third of the way through the eight month process through which energy efficiency program stakeholders have an unprecedented opportunity to get involved, review plans, and provide feedback. And, as Coordinator I’ve heard a lot of questions about this process. The below FAQ seeks to provide an overview of how and why local governments are likely to want to take a look at what’s going on, and get involved – as well as the different options for getting involved.

Overview: Why is there a Rolling Portfolio process, and what is the Energy Efficiency Coordinating Committee (EECC)?

For years, California has allocated ratepayer funding for energy programming to the investor-owned utilities as “Program Administrators” through the decisions made on a three-year cycle by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

This cyclical funding did allow funding to be reassessed every few years to ensure program goals were being met – but, the administrative burden of planning programs, assessing programs, and the uncertainty for those using the programs made this process something many thought could be improved upon. Energy efficiency program stakeholders convened to see if a common solution could be sought, and through coordination with the CPUC, the rolling portfolio developed as it is laid out in the fall 2015 CPUC Decision 15-10-028 (part of the rulemaking 13-11-005). This Decision addresses the request of stakeholders to change the energy program funding cycle from its current 3-year cycle to a “rolling portfolio” cycle. Through this cycle, energy efficiency (EE) program Program Administrators – the four investor-owned utilities, the Regional Energy Networks and, to date, one CCA – are responsible for the creation of 5-year “business plans” that describe their strategy for supporting the state’s EE goals in each sector and seek funding approval. With this new cycle, the Decision established a “coordinating committee” to make the Program Administrator business plan development process accessible to all stakeholders.

So, if you haven’t heard of the Energy Efficiency Coordinating Committee (EECC, or CAEECC), it may be because it’s brand new: the Committee’s first meetings were held in mid-January 2016, and a second set of meetings – which kicked off the first Sub-Committee meetings – started in mid-February and continued into mid-March.

What is a business plan?

A “business plan” is a new term that refers to the energy efficiency programming plan that Program Administrators must develop for each sector and submit to the CPUC for review in September. Requirements for the business plans can be found in the CPUC Decision (linked above).

How Does the EECC communicate?

The EECC communicates by sharing documents, agendas, meeting announcements, and other information via the EECC listserv, and recently launched a website through which any interested party can subscribe to the listserv: www.caeecc.org. The Committee is made up of representatives from the Program Administrators (PG&E, SDG&E, SCE, SoCal Gas, SoCal REN, BayREN, and Marin Clean Energy), the California Energy Commission, workers’ unions, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Office of Ratepayer Advocates (ORA), the Local Government Sustainable Energy Coalition (LGSEC), the Efficiency Council, consultants, trade groups, and local government, and is co-chaired by PG&E and NRDC. Subcommittees are organized by the following sectors, as laid out in the CPUC decision: residential, commercial, public, agricultural, industrial, codes and standards, and cross-cutting.

What is the “rolling portfolio”? What is it working to achieve?

The rolling portfolio is the transition from a 3-year cyclical determination of energy efficiency programming and allocation of funds by those that administer energy efficiency programming (“Program Administrators,” as you’ll see written in CPUC decisions and referred to by the EECC), to a longer schedule that should allow stakeholders to better project what programs will be available – and that aims to cut duplicative administrative burden and increase transparency. The rolling portfolio’s center piece is the extension of the operation of energy efficiency programming out for additional years – but this process also relies on a new engagement with energy efficiency stakeholders during the program planning phase (which is happening right now). The structure of this new process is detailed in the CPUC decision released in its final version last October.

What agencies and organizations are leading these efforts?

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is the regulatory agency that determines on what schedule Program Administrators plan energy efficiency programming, and is the agency that has issued the decisions that enabled the rolling portfolio process.

This funding cycle’s entities entrusted with administering energy efficiency programs (“Program Administrators”) are:

  • the state’s four investor-owned utilities – PG&E, SDG&E, SCE, and SoCalGas;
  • the state’s two Regional Energy Networks (BayREN and SoCalREN, or “The Energy Network”), and;
  • Marin Clean Energy (which applied as a Consumer Choice Aggregation Joint Powers Authority to gain authority to administer energy efficiency programs).

The EE Coordinating Committee is a group of diverse energy efficiency program stakeholders that is overseeing the public process through which Program Administrators assess the market and develop their energy efficiency program business plans for each sector (described above).

Why should local governments care about the rolling portfolio, or participate in the business plan meetings?

The business planning meetings are an unprecedented opportunity for stakeholders interested in leveraging energy efficiency programming to interact with those planning the programs. And local governments are arguably one of the most important stakeholders to weigh in on certain sector business plans (for example, the public sector plan) – and also have valuable insight on how their jurisdictions work that can help shape other sector plans. Also, through local government partnerships with utilities, local governments often have valuable experience implementing and promoting energy efficiency programs in the community.

Regardless of whether local governments choose to participate, it’s likely helpful for local government energy leads to stay tuned in on developments in the rollout of energy efficiency programming – so that they can plan to leverage (and help the community leverage) its resources.

What’s the timeline?

The targeted timeline is to have all presentations to stakeholders completed and business plans finalized for submission from Program Administrators to the CPUC September 1, 2016. This is the timeline laid out in the CPUC decision. Program Administrators are responsible for communicating on the development of their business plans in four stages: Market Assessment & Gaps Analysis (complete); Intervention Strategies and Metrics; Initial Business Plan Chapter Development; Full Business Plan Review and Completion. The original schedule for Program Administrators to move through these stages is available in a blog post I wrote on the 3/16 public sector Stage 1 subcommittee meeting. More information on the schedule’s stages and opportunities for stakeholder response can be found here, or on the CAEECC.org website.

Do I have to make some kind of time commitment to get involved?

No: the meetings are public and open to all. Feedback on the information shared at the meeting is welcome during the public comment periods, and may be made without committing to additional meetings. Comments can also be submitted to subcommittee co-chairs.

Where can I get more information?

You can stay informed on all the of the activities and meetings of the EE Coordinating Committee, or simply of a specific subsector, by signing up for the CA EE Coordinating Committee Constant Contact list on www.CAEECC.org.

If you find yourself interested in other aspects of the rulemaking 13-11-005 covered in the CPUC Decision link above (e.g., High Opportunity Program Projects), you may want to subscribe to the CPUC list for this rulemaking.

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