NC Sustainable Energy Association

NCSEA Work at NCUC

Generic Utility Dockets

E-100, Sub 83 - Net Metering

"True" net metering is a billing arrangement that allows individuals with distributed renewable energy generation to receive a one-to-one offset of their retail rate for all the electricity generated.

NCSEA began working at the Commission over 10 years ago to get a net metering standard implemented. NCSEA’s goal is to move North Carolina’s regulated utilities towards a robust net metering policy that would provide incentives to individuals and businesses to install small scale renewable energy systems to offset their energy use. As a result of NCSEA's efforts, North Carolina's net metering standard continues to improve. The latest net metering policy expands eligible resources to include all those renewable resources and facilities included in the REPS, expands the eligible system size to 1 MW, eliminates the aggregate system limit on net metered systems, allows customer-generators to choose their underlying rate schedule, and allows customer-generators who participate in a time-of-use demand rate to retain all of their RECs.

Order Amending Net Metering Policy, March 31, 2009

E-100, Sub 101 - Interconnection

Interconnection is the process whereby the owner of an energy generation facility connects to the electricity grid.

Interconnection allows renewable distributed energy generation ("DG") systems to leverage the benefits of the electricity grid. Once connected, the DG system can use the electricity grid to supply electricity when the system is not meeting the load at the generation site. The DG system can also put excess electricity back onto the electricity grid when the system is producing more electricity than the load at the generation site needs, thereby eliminating the need for an on-site electricity storage system. 

NCSEA's work on this issue focuses on easing the interconnection process for owners of renewable DG systems. In the latest round of this proceeding, the utilities proposed that they be allowed to require owners of renewable DG systems less than 10 kW in size to install an external disconnect switch. NCSEA presented evidence to show that such requirement would be redundant and result in raising the cost of renewable DG systems. As a result, the Commission ruled that utilities could require that an external disconnect switch be installed on renewable DG systems less than 10 kW in size but that the utilities would be responsible for paying all of the costs associated with installing the switch.

Revised Interconnection Standard, May 20, 2009

Order Amending Interconnection Standard, December 16, 2008

E-100, Sub 113 - REPS Rulemaking

In 2007, North Carolina enacted its Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard ("REPS").  This docket sets the rules for complying with the REPS as well as defining the parameters for the development of the renewable energy compliance market in North Carolina.

NCSEA has been extensively involved in this docket since its inception.  NCSEA's overarching approach to the myriad of issues contained within this docket is to expand the economic development opportunities within North Carolina by removing barriers to indigenous renewable energy generation. 

Orders

Order on Joint Motion to Approve Collaborative Activity on Poultry Waste Set-Aside Requirement, June 25, 2010

Order on Pro-Rata Clarification of Aggregate Swine and Poultry Waste Set-Aside Requirements, March 31, 2010

Clarification on Set-Asides, September 22, 2009

Clarification on "New" Renewable Energy Facilities, July 27, 2009

Determining In-State vs. Out-of-State RECs, July 13, 2009

Clarification for Hydroelectric Facilities, Tennessee Valley Authority, and Electric Membership Corporations, June 17, 2009

Clarification of Various Aspects of the Carve-Out Requirements, In-State vs. Out-of-State RECs, Sale of Excess RECs, May 7, 2009

Clarification of Electric Power Suppliers' Annual REPS Requirements, November 26, 2008

Order Amending Final Rules, March 13, 2008

Order Adopting Final Rules, February 29, 2008

Reports

2009 Annual REPS Report, October 1, 2009

2008 Annual REPS Report, October 1, 2008

Biennial Report Regarding Energy Efficiency and Demand-Side Management Proceedings for Electric Utilities, October 5, 2009

E-100. Sub 116 - 2008 Investigation into Rate Restructuring

The legislation that produced the REPS ordered the Commission to initiate a proceeding to investigate and prepare an analysis of whether rate structures, policies, and measures that promote a mix of generation involving renewable energy sources and demand reduction instituted in other places should be implemented in North Carolina. 

NCSEA's comments and analysis on these issues focused on eliminating supply-side disincentives to conserve electricity and creating demand-side incentives through rates. Much of this analysis was included in the Commission’s final report.

NCUC Report to the Governor, Environmental Review Commission, and Joint Legislative Utility Review Commission, September 2, 2008

E-100, Subs 117 and 127 - 2008 and 2010 Biennial Avoided Cost Proceedings

Avoided costs are the costs that a utility avoids by purchasing power from an independent producer rather than producing the energy themselves. The two parts of the avoided cost calculation include the avoided capacity cost of constructing new power plants and the avoided energy cost of fuel and operating expenses.  The Commission conducts avoided cost proceedings every two years to update the utilities’ avoided cost rates.

NCSEA participates in the avoided cost proceedings to ensure that renewable energy generators are treated equitably and that they are compensated according to the capacity and energy benefits they provide to the utility.

E-100, Sub 127 - 2010 Biennial Avoided Cost Proceeding

Order Establishing Biennial Proceeding, Requiring Data, and Scheduling Public Hearing, May 5, 2010

E-100, Sub 117 - 2008 Biennial Avoided Cost Proceeding

Order Establishing Standard Rates and Contract Terms, May 13, 2009

E-100, Subs 118, 119, 124, 125, 126 and 128 - Integrated Resource Planning Proceedings, Compliance Plans, and Smart Grid Plans

The integrated resource planning (IRP) is a biennial proceeding in which the Commission reviews the regulated electric utilities' plans for meeting the long-range electricity needs of the State. The plans are updated in the intervening years. The Commission revised the rules regarding IRP filings to include the utilities' REPS compliance plans as a result of the REPS rulemaking docket (E-100, Sub 113) and to include the utilities' smart grid technology plans as a result of the EISA docket (E-100, Sub 123).

Utilities that are not required to file their REPS compliance plans as part of the IRP proceedings are required to file their compliance plans separately (E-100, Sub 119 is the 2008 REPS Compliance Plan proceeding).

NCSEA participates in the IRP and REPS compliance plan proceedings in order to identify any overarching and utility-specific issues affecting utilities' REPS compliance plans and to assess the market conditions for renewable energy generation, energy efficiency measures, and demand-side management programs in North Carolina.

NCUC Docket No. E-100, Sub 118 - 2008 Integrated Resource Planning

NCUC Docket No. E-100, Sub 119 - 2008 REPS Compliance Plans

NCUC Docket No. E-100, Sub 124 - 2009 Integrated Resource Planning

NCUC Docket No. E-100, Sub 125 - 2009 REPS Compliance Plans

NCUC Docket No. E-100, Sub 126 - Inegrated Resource Planning Smart Grid Technology Plans

NCUC Docket No. E-100, Sub 128 - 2010 and 2011 Integrated Resource Planning

NCUC Annual Report Regarding Long Range Electricity Generation Needs, December 15, 2009

E-100, Sub 120 - Consideration of NC SAVE$, Public Benefits Fund

Public benefits funds ("PBFs") are typically used to support energy efficiency efforts and are financed through a surcharge on ratepayers utility bills.  The funds are generally directed, managed and meted out by a third-party administrator.  There are various models of PBFs that can be implemented to best suit the needs of the citizens and ratepayers of a state or utility.

The Commission found that it was not in the public interest to adopt the NC SAVE$ model.    

Order Denying NC SAVE$, December 2, 2008

E-100, Sub 121 – North Carolina Renewable Energy Certificate Tracking System (“NC-RETS”)

Renewable energy certificate ("REC") tracking systems are used throughout the country to facilitate compliance with states' renewable energy portfolio standards and renewable energy market development. In these systems, information about RECs is uploaded and tracked and, when the time comes, RECs are retired either voluntarily or for compliance by the purchaser or generator of the RECs.

In July 2008, NCSEA petitioned the Commission for a generic formal proceeding to investigate, evaluate and adopt elements and criteria for a RECs tracking system. The Commission decided to implement a system for North Carolina named the North Carolina Renewable Energy Certificate Tracking System ("NC-RETS"). The Commission established a working group process to develop the criteria for NC-RETS and the request for proposals for vendors. NCSEA was part of the working group and extensively participated in the process. NC-RETS began operations on July 1, 2010. 

NC-RETS website

NCUC Docket No. E-100, Sub 121 - NC-RETS

E-100, Sub 122 - Investigation into Adopting Guidance or Rules for Electric Utilities to Assess the Capabilities of the Wholesale Market in Making Resource Additions

When the wholesale electricity market is considered as a possible resource when utilities are deciding to make resource additions, the ratepayers receive the benefit of getting a true least-cost mix of generation resources.

The Commission conducted an investigation as to how electric utilities should assess the capabilities and options available of the wholesale market when making resource additions and whether the Commission should issue any formal guidance or rules to direct the utilities to make those assessments. NCSEA argued that the utilities should be given more formal direction by the Commission.  The Commission decided against issuing any formal guidance or rules at this time but did direct the utilities to file their approaches regarding using the wholesale market in the integrated resource plan proceeding (E-100, Sub 118).

Order Holding Docket in Abeyance, August 11, 2009

E-100, Sub 123 - Consideration of Adopting Certain Standards of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA)

On December 19, 2007 the President of the United States signed into law the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 ("EISA"). Pursuant to this act, the Commission opened a proceeding to consider whether it was in the public interest to adopt certain standards related to: modifying the integrated resource planning process to establish cost-effective energy efficiency as a priority resource; modifying rate designs to promote energy efficiency investments; requiring utilities to consider smart grid investments before investing in traditional grid technologies; and establishing standards for smart grid information related to supplying pricing and usage data to electricity consumers.

Having extensively participated in proceedings in front of the Commission concerning integrated resource planning and rate structures to promote efficiency, NCSEA took this opportunity to provide support for the consideration of smart grid technologies. Smart grid technologies present a potential win-win-win situation for all parties involved - utilities, ratepayers, and renewable energy generators - by enabling beneficial rate structures, real time management of the electricity grid, and smoother integration of non-utility owned renewable distributed generation facilities.

The Commission chose not to adopt the EISA standards but did decide to require the utilities to file their respective smart grid plans for review (E-100, Sub 125).

Order Declining to Adopt Federal Standards, December 18, 2009

Specific Utility Dockets

Progress Energy

Proposed Merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy

Duke Energy and Progress Energy have applied to the Utilities Commission for approval of their proposed merger. NCSEA intervened in the proceeding. NCSEA’s Executive Director, Ivan Urlaub, testified at the hearing on the matter. NCSEA submitted a brief in November 2011 opposing an unconditional merger approval and advocating for any merger to be conditioned on limited allowance of third-party sales of renewables, the creation of an on-bill financing program for energy efficiency improvements, and the creation of a public benefits fund. A ruling on the merger is expected in 2012.

NCUC Docket Nos. E-2, Sub 998 and E-7, Sub 986
 

Energy Efficiency and Demand-Side Management Programs

Progress Energy has proposed a number of energy efficiency and demand-side management measures and programs for approval at the Commission. NCSEA has participated in two of the proceedings to date.  Much of NCSEA's involvement in these proceedings has centered on Progress Energy's proposed compensation mechanism and cost-recovery for these programs.

NCUC Docket No. E-2, Sub 926 - Proposed Distribution System Demand Response Program

NCUC Docket No. E-2, Sub 928 - Proposed Residential Home Advantage, Industrial, Commercial, Governmental New Construction Programs

Energy Efficiency/Demand-Side Management Riders

Progress Energy’s energy efficiency ("EE") and demand-side management ("DSM") riders seek to recover through rates EE/DSM program costs, lost revenues from these programs, and performance incentives. The riders are updated annually to reflect new programs as well as measurement and verification results from existing programs. As with the program proceedings, NCSEA's participation in these proceedings focuses on the proposed compensation mechanisms.

NCUC Docket No. E-2, Sub 977 - 2010 EE/DSM Rider

NCUC Docket No. E-2, Sub 931 - 2008 EE/DSM Rider

REPS Riders and Compliance Reports

Each year, Progress Energy petitions the Commission for approval to establish a rider to recover the incremental reasonable and prudent costs incurred for adopting and implementing the REPS, specifically its renewable energy and renewable energy certificate purchases.

In the initial REPS rider proceeding, NCSEA weighed in on Progress Energy’s definition of a customer-account for REPS reporting purposes.  In the initial and subsequent proceedings, NCSEA's focus is on how the renewable energy market is developing in North Carolina and the on the prudence of Progress Energy’s renewable energy contracts.

NCUC Docket No. E-2, Sub 974 - 2009 REPS Compliance Report and 2010 REPS Cost-Recovery Rider

NCUC Docket No. E-2, Sub 948 - 2008 REPS Compliance Report and 2009 REPS Cost-Recovery Rider

NCUC Docket No. E-2, Sub 930 - 2008 REPS Cost-Recovery Rider

Duke Energy

Proposed Merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy

Duke Energy and Progress Energy have applied to the Utilities Commission for approval of their proposed merger. NCSEA intervened in the proceeding. NCSEA’s Executive Director, Ivan Urlaub, testified at the hearing on the matter. NCSEA submitted a brief in November 2011 opposing an unconditional merger approval and advocating for any merger to be conditioned on limited allowance of third-party sales of renewables, the creation of an on-bill financing program for energy efficiency improvements, and the creation of a public benefits fund. A ruling on the merger is expected in 2012.

NCUC Docket Nos. E-2, Sub 998 and E-7, Sub 986

2011 General Rate Increase

Duke Energy proposed a rate increase at NCUC. NCSEA intervened. NCSEA filed a targeted brief in opposition to Duke recovering any costs under the rider associated with its abandoned offshore wind energy project. The rate increase was approved in January 2012.

NCUC Docket No. E-7, Sub 989

Renewable Energy Projects

E-7, Sub 836 - Application for Solar Photovoltaic Distributed Generation Project

In 2008, Duke Energy applied for Commission approval to build its own solar distributed generation facilities. Initially Duke proposed a 20 MW, $100 million project. NCSEA and other solar energy advocates and developers were encouraged by Duke’s ambition. The parties were concerned, however, that the magnitude of the project might stunt the development of North Carolina's emerging solar energy market by eliminating the need for Duke to enter into additional contracts with local developers to meet its REPS solar set-aside requirements. Based in part on these concerns, the Commission approved a 10 MW, $50 million project. To date, Duke has secured sites for 4.375 MW of aggregate capacity.

2010 Annual Cost Update, February 2, 2010

Order on Reconsideration, May 6, 2009

Order Granting Certificate of Convenience and Public Necessity with Conditions, December 31, 2008

E-7, Subs 939 and 940 - Registration Statement for Renewable Energy Facility at Buck Steam Station, Units 5 and 6, Registration Statement for Renewable Energy Facility at Lee Steam Station, Units 1-3

In 2010, Duke Energy sought to register two of its existing steam stations as renewable energy facilities. In conventional steam plants, the prime mover is a steam turbine and the steam used to drive the turbine is produced in a boiler where fossil fuels are burned. Duke Energy's calculus in seeking to register these stations as renewable energy facilities hinges on considering whole trees as biomass assets and using those assets to co-fire the existing steam turbines. The Commission ruled that all wood, including whole trees, is an eligible biomass resource that can be used for REPS compliance. In August 2011, the  NC Court of Appeals affirmed the Commission's ruling.

NC Court of Appeals Opinion

Energy Efficiency and Demand-Side Management Programs

In 2007, Duke Energy proposed its Save-A-Watt program ("SAW").  The SAW program consisted of a suite of energy efficiency and demand-side management measures. SAW was remarkable not because of the particular suite of proposed measures but because of its proposed compensation mechanism which was tied to Duke’s version of its avoided costs. The proceeding is on-going and evolving.

E-7, Sub 831 - Petition for Approval of Save-a-Watt Approach, Energy Efficiency Rider and Portfolio of Energy Efficiency Programs

REPS Riders and Compliance Reports

Each year, Duke Energy petitions the Commission for approval to establish a rider to recover the incremental reasonable and prudent costs incurred for adopting and implementing the REPS, specifically its renewable energy and renewable energy certificate purchases. 

In the initial REPS rider proceeding, NCSEA weighed in on Duke Energy’s definition of a customer-account for REPS reporting purposes.  In the initial and subsequent proceedings, NCSEA’s focus is on how the renewable energy market is developing in North Carolina and the on the prudence of Duke Energy’s renewable energy contracts. 

NCUC Docket No. E-7, Sub 936 - 2009 REPS Compliance Report and 2010 REPS Rider

NCUC Docket No. E-7, Sub 872 - 2008 REPS Compliance Report and 2009 REPS Rider

Specific Non-Utility Dockets

Pantego Wind Energy

Pantego in 2011 applied for a certificate of public convenience and need (CPCN) for its proposed onshore wind farm in Eastern North Carolina. NCSEA intervened. NCSEA  worked with Pantego's legal counsel and the Public Staff to submit a stipulated joint order to the Commission recommending the grant of the CPCN conditional upon meeting specific provisions regarding environmental and bird and bat monitoring. A ruling is expected in 2012.

NCUC Docket No. EMP-61,Sub 0

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