Partnership for Southern Equity Just Energy Academy (JEA) Program

Our Mission

The Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE) advances policies and institutional actions that promote racial equity and shared prosperity for all in the growth of metropolitan Atlanta and the American South.

Since 2008, the Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE), an Atlanta-based nonprofit, has been advancing the cause of equity through a ecosystem-based model for multi-demographic engagement in the City of Atlanta and the surrounding metropolitan region – a bustling area emblematic of many Southern communities riven by racial, economic and class disparities.

Using its strength in its ability to connect, educate, and empower diverse individuals and organizations to encourage just, sustainable practices for shared prosperity, PSE has stood at the forefront of promoting balanced growth and shared prosperity throughout metropolitan Atlanta and the American South.

Focusing on three key areas: energy, growth and opportunity, PSE has developed strong partnerships, which have resulted in a series of successful policy initiatives that helped elevate and enable the communities we serve.

Dear Equity Leader:  

We invite you and other residents across Georgia to apply to be a part of the first Just Energy Academy (JEA). This seven (7) month leadership development program was created to educate the next generation of equity leaders on energy equity and climate justice issues. JEA is a competitive program for youth and adults who aspire to be energy equity leaders in their communities.

What is Energy Equity?

Against the backdrop of global climate change, “energy equity” translates into the fair distribution of benefits and burdens from energy production and consumption. The Partnership for Southern Equity works with its partners to educate and engage low-income communities and communities of color about the benefits and burdens associated with power generation in Georgia and across the southeast. While unfamiliar to many, these policies significantly impact household utility bills and negatively impact the overall quality of air, water and other natural resources that affect our health and well-being.

Program Specifics:

  • Participants: 15-20 diverse residents of Georgia
  • Age 17 and older; community, non-profit and environmental leaders who are engaged    

and active in their communities and have a vested interest in improving the overall

quality of their community.

  • Time Commitment: 7 months
  • Meet once a month: Seven sessions that meet on Saturday Full-Day (6-8 Hours). The opening session in February will include Friday Evening.
  • Example Schedule:
      • Session One: Friday February 15th 6:00 to 8:00 PM and Saturday, February 16th 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
  • Core curriculum: racial equity, energy policy and planning, advocacy and

environmental justice, community organizing

  • Participants will also work on community projects with their respective community


The main topics addressed in each module will include:

  • Racial Equity, History of Energy and Climate Justice and PSE Equity Ecosystem
  • Energy Policy, Energy Planning and Decision-making
  • Environmental Justice
  • Advocating For Your Community and Community Organizing
  • Partnering and Leveraging Resources
  • Energy Action Planning
  • Looking Ahead: Energy Equity in 10 Years  
  • Energy Action Presentations and Graduation


Program Goals:

  • Understand racial equity, as well as the history and background of Black and Brown
  • people’s contributions to the energy and climate justice movements
  • Highlight PSE’s work in Georgia and the American South
  • Gain a basic understanding of environmental justice principles, concepts, and history
  • Identify the intersection of energy and impacts on health and well-being through the use of tools and other resources
  • Develop community leaders’ understanding of renewable energy (solar, wind, hydro)


Application schedule:  


Date Action Item
January 18, 2019 Application Deadline (see submission instructions below)
Application Review by Staff (Note: All applicants will not be interviewed, but staff reserve the right to interview or send questions to applicants and their references to clarify information submitted through the application or to narrow the pool of applicants)
Candidate Interviews
Selected Fellows Announced and All Applicants Notified.
Program Start Date


Submission instructions:


Applications can be received in one of the following ways: 1) in person at PSE office or PSE community event, 2) by mail, or 3) electronically. Deadline for application is January 18, 2019.

In person or U.S. mail:


The Partnership for Southern Equity

Attn: Just Energy Portfolio

100 Peachtree Street NW

The Equitable Building

Suite 1960

Atlanta, Georgia 30303


Electronic Submittal: Application packets must be emailed to with the subject line – Just Energy Academy or submitted through this google form (preferred).


Below are the descriptive questions and requirements for the application. The online form can’t be saved and resumed once it is started so it may be helpful to prepare these answers prior to opening the online form.



  • Describe your community involvement.
  • Please provide a one-paragraph description of your vision for equity in your community:
  • Please discuss your ability to commit to the Just Energy Academy and what might hinder your commitment to attend the sessions?
  • Provide us with a brief synopsis of your story and how it relates to your interest in the Academy.
  • Describe your special skills and talents that you intend to contribute to the program.



Provide contact information for two references that could speak to your leadership potential (references can be personal or professional):


Reference Name Phone Email Address Relationship

You may also submit a résumé, curriculum vitae, or additional information that you feel is important to note when considering your application. Please limit your attachments to no more than three pages.




The Just Energy Academy is a volunteer leadership development opportunity provided by the the Partnership for Southern Equity.  It is also a competitive program. This means that if you are accepted, it is expected that you will commit to fully taking advantage of the opportunity that has been entrusted to you and will be accountable to your peers in the group for your participation.  You will be expected to attend all required training sessions and activities, with only two excused absences allowed. The group will discuss any obstacles that individuals may have to participation, such as child care or transportation, and consider whether it is possible to address those.  You will be provided with training and leadership development, networking opportunities and an opportunity to positively impact your community.


Questions?  Please contact –

Yuri Owens, Just Energy Portfolio Coordinator

Partnership for Southern Equity

P: (404) 454-0785

About Solar United Neighbors of D.C.

How our first solar co-ops got started Solar United Neighbors started as a neighborhood project in Washington, D.C. Formed as the Mt. Pleasant Solar Co-op, …

D.C. is our hometown and where Solar United Neighbors got started. Since 2007, we have been fighting to ensure solar is accessible and affordable to all District residents.

Our vision

We envision a clean, equitable energy system that directs control and benefits back to local communities, with solar on every roof and money in every pocket.

Our mission

We’re a community of people building a new energy system and rooftop solar is the cornerstone. We help people go solar, join together, and fight for their energy rights.

Our partners

We work with amazing partners to spread the solar word. Our partner organizations range from nonprofits to municipal governments, universities to community organizations, and individual “super volunteers” to houses of worship.

Some of our awesome partners in D.C. over the last few years have included:

MONDAY JAN 21ST 2019 – 11:30AM


“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do… you have to keep moving forward.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
We welcome all residents of the District of Columbia and surrounding areas to take part in the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Walk and Parade.

A.C. advisory board

Our D.C. advisory board provides strategic guidance to our work. Members do not have fiduciary oversight but provide strategic direction to the program. They are members of successful solar co-ops, solar champions, and leaders in the community.

Sherrill Berger Born in Uvalde, Texas, but raised in Washington, D.C., Sherrill studied classical ballet at the Jones-Haywood School and later danced as a principle soloist and taught with the well-acclaimed Capitol Ballet Company (CBC). Later she joined the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History, served as an educational tour guide with the Smithsonian Associate International Study Tours in Asia, and Europe, worked for the Carnegie Institution for Science as a prospect researcher, and was instrumental in establishing the Capital Science Lecture Series. She also directed several non-profit organizations, including Saving the DC Public Libraries Renaissance Project, the Mount Pleasant, Brookland, and Bloomingdale neighborhood Main Streets. As a community activist she was a member of Neighbors Inc., Development Corporation of Columbia Heights, founding member of Mount Pleasant Solar Coop, Solar United Neighbors of D.C., PowerDC, Grid 2.0, and co-founder of the re-established DC Consumer Utility Board.
Sylvester Bush Sylvester Bush is a resident of Ward 7 and help form a new solar co-op in Wards 7 and 8, the East Of The River (EOTR) solar co-op. He ensured that residents of ward 7 and 8 were educated and engaged around solar. Sylvester is the owner of a local business, the MGS Group, Inc.
Guy Durant As leader of the first Brookland Solar Co-op, Guy has been instrumental in bringing solar to his community. A technology professional with over 18 years of technology management and SE & IT leadership, Guy currently works at Waterman Engineering and Consulting, LLC. He has a strong background in health IT project management and clinical trials research. He is also an active member of the Plymouth Congregational Church.
Jared Lang Jared Lang, Sustainable Development Manager at National Housing Trust is responsible for integrating sustainability and renewable energy into affordable
housing projects. Jared manages the energy and water components of housing development projects, finances large-scale solar installations, and secures public and foundation incentives for energy projects. Prior to working with NHT, Jared was Program Manager for the National Association of Counties Sustainability Programs, consulting to local officials on strategies for integrating sustainability into their building portfolios. He was also a Sustainability Consultant with Davis
Joelle Novey Joelle Novey directs Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA), which supports hundreds of congregations in the DC area to respond to climate change. She’s grateful for years of partnership with Solar United Neighbors of D.C., helping faith communities to get their facilities’ energy “from heaven” and helping members of area congregations to connect with solar co-ops in their neighborhoods. IPL-DMV’s has put together solar resources for congregations.
Robert Robinson Robert Robinson came to D.C. after 18 months organizing elections in Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Ohio for the Jimmy Carter Presidential campaign. He hired onto the Marion Barry for Mayor campaign in 1977 and worked as an administrator for the Executive Office of the Mayor agencies. He managed successful Council campaigns and a councilmember’s staff. He and his wife Sherrill went solar with the Mt. Pleasant Solar Coop and were founding members of Solar United Neighbors of D.C.

Contact the D.C. team

The Keystone State may have found the key to the next wave of transportation electrification

Pennsylvania’s combination of guiding principles, legislation and collaboration among a broad array of stakeholders may show how to move the EV market into its next phase of development.

Pennsylvania’s breakthrough collaboration of private sector, utility, legislative and regulatory leaders may be the template for a national transportation electrification program that can drive the next wave of market expansion.

Supportive policies in California, New York and Washington have led to market-leading EV sales. But policymakers in states like Ohio, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are working on laws, regulations and guidance to drive the next stage of growth. Some say Pennsylvania has put together the right mix.

Pennsylvania has already taken three big steps. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)-led Drive Electric coalition drafted an EV Roadmap. A November Public Utility Commission (PUC) ruling clarified private sector charger providers’ rights to set their own prices. And a utility’s pilot charger deployment proposal was endorsed by a major private provider because of the principles it embodies.

ChargePoint, the global charging station leader, supports the six Guiding Principles in the Duquesne Light Company proposal to own and operate charging stations, Director of Policy Kevin Miller told Utility Dive. Among current state policy efforts, these principles “are a landmark in utility program design because they allow utilities to complement the competitive market and increase customer choice,” he said.

Growing EV markets

The PUC ruling, the Drive Electric Pennsylvania coalition’s collaboration and the Duquesne Light proposal’s principles are the kinds of things that grow EV markets, Miller said. The Duquesne principles are particularly important because they “preserve site host control over charging stations” and, therefore, “fit with the many kinds of programs needed for the many different kinds of utility service territories.”

A further element in the mix, and a prime focus of the collaboration, has been House Bill (HB) 1446. It would accelerate electric vehicle (EV) adoption, charging station deployment and supporting policies. It did not get out of committee in 2018, but Republican Senators Bob Mensch and Robert Tomlinson have announced a new push is coming in 2019, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Transportation Policy Analyst Noah Garcia told Utility Dive.

HB 1446 could “help Pennsylvania stake out a leadership position in electric vehicle policy nationally,” Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) Market Development VP Matt Stanberry emailed Utility Dive. By making clear the state’s commitment, “it would provide an important welcoming signal for new investments.”

Though still in its early stages, the national transition to electricity-powered transportation is accelerating, with more EVs sold and charging stations deployed every year. The U.S. now has more than 1 million EVs on its roads, with California in the lead, followed by New York, according to the Edison Electric Institute.

“We’re at a tipping point toward mass adoption of transportation electrification and states are working on the many ways utility programs can be structured to complement the private market.”

Kevin Miller

Director of Policy, ChargePoint

But it is Pennsylvania, 12th in 2017 EV sales, where the combination of guiding principles, legislation and collaboration among utilities, private providers, policymakers and regulators may add up to a template for how to move the market into its next phase of development.

SCANA deliberately misled regulators overseeing nuclear project, South Carolina PSC concludes

Dive Brief:

  • South Carolina regulators on Monday concluded SCANA executives acted “imprudently” by deliberately misleading the Public Service Commission (PSC), the Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS), the public and investors about the financial condition of the V.C. Summer nuclear project.
  • The vote came as the PSC rejected appeals to their December decision, allowing Dominion Energy to acquire SCANA and its subsidiary, South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G). The new finding will not impact the acquisition or a planned rate decrease, but could signal greater scrutiny down the line.
  • Dominion stepped in to acquire SCANA as controversy swirled over who would pay for the failed V.C. Summer project, which went billions over budget and was scrapped in 2017. Now, regulators say the company intentionally kept them in the dark

Dive Insight:

The PSC had previously declined to make a finding of imprudence, but local media reported pressure from state House Speaker Jay Lucas, R, may have played a role in the “surprising reversal.”

Earlier this month Lucas filed comments with the PSC, arguing “the record in this case is replete with evidence that supports the Commission making a finding of imprudence.”

The Securities and Exchange Commission in 2017 launched an investigation, following allegations in a shareholder class action lawsuit that SCANA executives made “false and misleading statements” on the Summer project. A 2015 analysis of the project by construction giant Bechtel concluded the project timeline was too ambitious and costs were skyrocketing, but those warnings were removed from the final version presented to state officials.

Lucas’ office did not respond to requests for comment on the PSC’s decision, but his filing with the commission was made in support of a petition by ORS for a specific ruling on SCE&G’s imprudence.

ORS Executive Director Nanette Edwards issued a statement applauding the decision, which concluded SCANA executives acted imprudently beginning March 12, 2015.

“We believe it is of vital importance that a legal finding of imprudence on the part of the utility be issued not just to satisfy the law but to send a message to all utilities regulated by the PSC that statutory compliance, transparency and accountability are requirements that cannot be violated without penalty,” Edwards said.

A spokesman for ORS said there would be “no discernable impact,” from the PSC’s decision, calling it “just a legal requirement that was oddly not met previously.”

Electricity Rates in Your State 2019 :(last updated Jan. 8, 2019)

Electricity Rates in Your State

Here we’ve compiled data to show you just how much energy costs can vary, including historical electricity prices from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Information on recent rates and fluctuations may help you understand your bill or decide to change your energy plan.

Familiar with energy choice and want to sign up for a new plan? Enter your ZIP code above for rates you can secure today.

States with Lowest Rates | Residential Rates by State | Commercial Rates by State |

Where you live affects your electricity rate

October 2018 data, the latest available, show that the average U.S. price – 12.87 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) – rose 0.5% compared with a year ago. If you live in Louisiana, you paid the lowest average residential electricity rates of any state in the country – 9.11 cents per kWh. The next lowest rate is in Arkansas, where residents pay an average of 9.34 cents per kWh.

Below are the cheapest 10 states to live in based on residential electricity rates:

Rank State October 2018 Electric Rate
1 Louisiana 9.11
2 Arkansas 9.34
3 Washington 9.68
4 Utah 10.32
5 Idaho 10.33
6 Tennessee 10.70
7 Missouri 10.71
8 Kentucky 10.77
9 North Dakota 10.83
10 Georgia 10.96


Also once again, Hawaii residents pay the highest electricity rates in the country. Below are the 10 most expensive states to live in based on residential electricity rates.

Rank State October 2018 Electric Rate
1 Hawaii 32.46
2 Alaska 22.51
3 Connecticut 21.87
4 Rhode Island 21.46
5 Massachusetts 21.30
6 New Hampshire 20.23
7 New York 19.29
8 Vermont 18.42
9 Maine 16.47
10 California 15.73


Looking deeper: Residential electric rates through the year

The average home in the U.S. consumes 897 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per month. Bills vary by state and region, as cost per kWh differs. To estimate average monthly energy bills, multiply the average home’s electricity usage (897 kWh) by the cost per kWh in your state for that month. For example, the average cost per kWh in October for Iowa homes was 12.82 cents, which amounts to an average bill of about $115 (12.82 cents x 897 kWh) that month. Find your state on the interactive map below to see the latest average rate, its rank among other states and the percentage change from the previous month.



Residential Electricity Rates by State

(cents per kWh for latest month available)

State Average Electric Rate:

October 2018

Average Electric Rate:

October 2017

% up/down Choose Energy Price Index

(see below)

Index rank
Alabama 12.42 12.66 1.9 130.3 48
Alaska 22.51 21.78 3.4 114.8 41
Arizona 13.26 12.78 3.8 118.0 44
Arkansas 9.34 10.17 8.2 87.4 12
California 15.73 15.70 0.2 74.4 4
Colorado 21.87 21.29 2.7 73.6 3
Connecticut 22.05 21.26 3.7 134.4 49
DC 13.60 13.44 1.2 94.5
Delaware 13.89 14.20 2.7 113.7 39
Florida 11.67 11.85 1.5 113.3 37
Georgia 10.96 11.52 4.9 107.8 34
Hawaii 32.46 29.30 10.8 141.7 50
Idaho 10.33 10.26 0.7 85.1 10
Illinois 13.23 13.12 0.8 83.8 9
Indiana 12.39 12.75 2.8 104.4 30
Iowa 12.82 11.77 8.9 95.7 19
Kansas 13.32 13.38 0.4 103.5 27
Kentucky 10.77 11.17 3.6 104.3 29
Louisiana 9.11 9.93 8.3 97.6 23
Maine 16.47 16.05 2.6 77.7 5
Maryland 14.19 14.37 1.3 122.0 46
Massachusetts 21.30 20.45 4.2 110.3 36
Michigan 15.42 15.12 2.0 89.0 15
Minnesota 13.72 13.36 2.7 90.6 17
Mississippi 11.22 11.10 1.1 116.7 43
Missouri 10.71 11.15 3.9 96.4 21
Montana 11.48 11.23 2.2 80.7 7
Nebraska 11.23 10.89 3.1 94.4 18
Nevada 12.16 12.79 4.9 97.2 22
New Hampshire 20.23 19.87 1.8 105.6 32
New Jersey 14.96 14.66 2.0 89.3 16
New Mexico 12.97 12.96 0.1 70.7 2
New York 19.29 18.74 2.9 99.2 25
North Carolina 11.94 11.45 4.3 113.6 38
North Dakota 10.83 10.94 1.0 97.9 24
Ohio 12.48 12.81 2.6 96.1 20
Oklahoma 11.00 11.17 1.5 103.9 28
Oregon 11.24 10.89 3.2 88.5 13
Pennsylvania 14.10 14.60 3.4 102.5 26
Rhode Island 21.46 19.55 9.8 108.7 35
South Carolina 12.43 13.01 4.5 124.1 47
South Dakota 12.35 12.48 1.0 104.7 31
Tennessee 10.70 10.61 0.8 114.5 40
Texas 11.69 11.09 5.4 116.8 44
Utah 10.32 10.51 1.8 66.9 1
Vermont 18.42 17.97 2.5 87.4 11
Virginia 11.90 11.79 0.9 115.2 42
Washington 9.68 9.76 0.8 79.9 6
West Virginia 11.27 11.97 5.8 107.3 33
Wisconsin 14.94 14.71 1.6 88.2 14
Wyoming 11.08 11.56 4.2 81.4 8


The Choose Energy Price Index

In 2018, we kicked off the Choose Energy Price Index, a proprietary tool that combines the average electricity rate by state with a state’s average monthly usage to produce a number that reflects average monthly bills for a state. The index is a ratio of that state’s average monthly bill compared with the average U.S. bill.

Other measures alone don’t accurately reflect monthly residential bills. Take the following case:

  • Residents of Virginia paid an average of 11.90 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for their electricity in October, the 20th-lowest rates in the country and well below the U.S. average of 12.87 cents/kWh. However, they use an average of 1,120 kWh per month, well above the U.S. average of 897. That leaves the state with a Choose Energy Price Index score of 115.2, which places it 42nd nationally.

In other words, prices and bills aren’t directly correlated. Choose Energy will track changes using the index on a monthly basis.

Commercial electricity rates through the year

In states with energy choice, the open market is not only for residents. Businesses also can take advantage of pricing and plans available through an energy supplier. In some states, only business customers have energy choice. Across the United States, the average business consumes 6,278 kWh of electricity per month and receives a bill of nearly $655.

Electric rates for companies vary greatly by industry and function. Although homes come in all shapes and sizes, businesses have larger variations with diverse needs – from industrial buildings to mom-and-pop businesses. In October, for example, the average business in Florida paid 12.40 cents per kWh. With this number, we can deduce that on average companies in the state paid about $585 that month for electricity.

See the Choose Energy Business Energy Index for a more in-depth look at commercial and industrial electricity rates.

Commercial Electricity Rates by State

(cents per kWh for latest month available)

State Average rate: October 2018 Average rate: October 2017 % increase/ decrease % of U.S. average Rate rank
Alabama 11.24 11.61 -3.2% 104.7 39
Alaska 19.85 18.6 6.7% 184.8 50
Arizona 10.85 10.89 -0.4% 101.0 36
Arkansas 7.05 8.38 -15.9% 65.6 1
California 17.28 16.9 2.2% 160.9 49
Colorado 10.62 10.16 4.5% 98.9 35
Connecticut 16.8 16.73 0.4% 156.4 46
Delaware 10.21 9.89 3.2% 95.1 28
DC 12.18 11.98 1.7% 113.4 41
Florida 9.32 9.58 -2.7% 86.8 19
Georgia 9.5 10.01 -5.1% 88.5 21
Hawaii 29.85 26.67 11.9% 277.9 51
Idaho 7.82 8.12 -3.7% 72.8 2
Illinois 9.26 9.16 1.1% 86.2 18
Indiana 10.4 10.56 -1.5% 96.8 30
Iowa 9.32 8.56 8.9% 86.8 20
Kansas 10.61 10.68 -0.7% 98.8 34
Kentucky 9.54 9.8 -2.7% 88.8 22
Louisiana 8.19 8.94 -8.4% 76.3 6
Maine 12.34 12.02 2.7% 114.9 42
Maryland 10.6 10.63 -0.3% 98.7 33
Massachusetts 16.92 16.07 5.3% 157.5 47
Michigan 11.21 10.79 3.9% 104.4 38
Minnesota 10.45 10.64 -1.8% 97.3 32
Mississippi 10.4 10.14 2.6% 96.8 31
Missouri 8.54 8.92 -4.3% 79.5 9
Montana 10.28 10.22 0.6% 95.7 29
Nebraska 8.76 8.45 3.7% 81.6 10
Nevada 7.85 8.67 -9.5% 73.1 3
New Hampshire 16.08 15.2 5.8% 149.7 45
New Jersey 11.77 11.35 3.7% 109.6 40
New Mexico 10.15 9.97 1.8% 94.5 26
New York 14.98 15.02 -0.3% 139.5 43
North Carolina 9.06 8.65 4.7% 84.4 14
North Dakota 9.18 9.19 -0.1% 85.5 16
Ohio 10.12 10.27 -1.5% 94.2 25
Oklahoma 8.02 8.24 -2.7% 74.7 5
Oregon 9.03 9.04 -0.1% 84.1 13
Pennsylvania 8.79 8.86 -0.8% 81.8 11
Rhode Island 16.93 15.4 9.9% 157.6 48
South Carolina 9.83 10.22 -3.8% 91.5 23
South Dakota 9.88 9.88 0.0% 92.0 24
Tennessee 10.19 10.32 -1.3% 94.9 27
Texas 7.93 8.14 -2.6% 73.8 4
Utah 8.41 8.67 -3.0% 78.3 8
Vermont 15.31 14.71 4.1% 142.6 44
Virginia 8.31 8.26 0.6% 77.4 7
Washington 8.84 8.78 0.7% 82.3 12
West Virginia 9.07 9.68 -6.3% 84.5 15
Wisconsin 10.91 10.47 4.2% 101.6 37
Wyoming 9.21 9.95 -7.4% 85.8 17


Need more information?

Are you a journalist or researcher writing about this topic who needs to know more about historical rates? Send us details about what you need and we’ll get back to you with an answer and a relevant quote from one of our rate experts. You should also check out the Choose Energy Data Center for more statistics and analysis centering on energy in the U.S.

Topics in the Data Center include the following:

Understand the energy market

Due to the volatility of the energy market, energy supply prices may fluctuate throughout the year. From October 2017 to October 2018, Hawaii experienced the biggest fluctuation in Residential Energy Rate electric prices, while New Mexico had the most consistent prices.

Fluctuations in electricity prices may seem random, but there are a few primary factors that determine how much you pay. These factors are:

  • What time you use energy: Some energy suppliers offer plans with time-of-use discounts, such as free energy supply from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • What month you use it: In warmer states, summer rates can be higher than winter rates due to higher energy demand for cooling.
  • Where you live: Energy supply rates change from state to state and even among utility areas in the same state, regardless of whether the state has energy choice.
If you are confused about any of the terms used, check out the Choose Energy glossary to learn more.

The Future of Energy

Energy comes from many sources, including coal, natural gas, nuclear and renewables. As nonrenewable sources such as coal diminish, the need for renewable energy sources grows. Some states satisfy the country’s growing renewable energy needs with their production of wind, solar and hydropower.

Check out real-time energy rates in these locations

The following states and the District of Columbia have deregulated electricity markets, meaning customers can choose the company that provides their electricity from competitive suppliers. Click on the state below to see what’s available in your state.


California Connecticut Georgia
Illinois Maine Maryland
Massachusetts New Hampshire New Jersey
New York Ohio Pennsylvania
Texas Washington, D.C.

Page last updated: 1/8/2019)

Floating solar PV could power 10% of nation but O&M questions remain, NREL says

Dive Brief:

  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) researchers announced last week that the United States has the technical potential to install 2,116 GW of floating photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States.
  • By the end of 2017, the United States had only seven floating solar projects representing a small fraction of the total 198 MW installed internationally, largely in Japan. The biggest barrier to increasing floating PV development in the nation remains the amount of risk associated with the technology’s operation and manufacturing, NREL researchers told Utility Dive.
  • The high-level analysis references the potential benefits and impacts from developing in about 24,400 man-made bodies of water. NREL researchers are pursuing data-collection studies, estimated to begin as soon as spring of 2019, to conduct a more technical analysis of the operational and maintenance costs of a floating solar project in the longer term.

Dive Insight:

As states move to decarbonize the power sector, the nascent technology offers an alternative to expansive, land-based solar arrays.

NREL published the first top-level analysis on the developmental potential of floating solar panels in December, in the Environmental Science & Technology journal, as the researchers pursue funding for further analysis. Researchers plotted utility prices by state and the amount of availability in man-made bodies of water that had restricted use and were within 50 miles of transmission lines, to see the where the development potential was greatest.

The technical potential of installing floating solar systems in 27% of the water bodies deemed eligible by NREL would yield annually about 9.6% of the U.S. electricity production in 2016, or about 786 TWh per year.

The potential annual generation of floating PV systems covering 27% of feasible U.S. water bodies (top) compared to how much that annual generation would cover the electricity production in 2016, (bottom) by state.
Credit: NREL study

But the study is only a starting point to a robust assessment to quantify the impacts and the benefits of the system to the man-made body of water.

“I think knowing the potential provides motivation to even start answering those questions,” Robert Spencer, co-author of the paper, told Utility Dive.

Based on the existing examples, the technology works, but Spencer noted the need for further analysis to test how the systems hold up in the long-term, to give prospective investors something to hang their hat on that’s more than an anecdote.

In that regard, NREL has some proposals on floating solar power pending with the Department of Energy.

“There are some very basic questions that still need to be answered that many private companies don’t have the infrastructure … to evaluate,” Jordan Macknick, an additional co-author on the paper, told Utility Dive.

Pending negotiations of a funding agreement with an unnamed client, NREL will also partner with the French floating PV developer Ciel & Terre International to install instrumentation equipment at a new 75 kW floating solar facility in Walden, Colo., close to NREL’s location outside Denver, that came online in 2018.

Floating solar systems can be set up very quickly and could be a useful carbon-free solution for a state with land-use restrictions, such as Connecticut, according to Macknick. The study targeted man-made water bodies for floating PV development because, like rooftop-sited solar, their presence might indicate “higher populations, higher land-use constraints,” and a need for a different option of resource to site renewable energy, Spencer said.

Additional technical and environmental benefits need to be further tested, Macknick said, to bring “field-based validation” to the potential benefits of floating solar systems, such as curbing the growth of algae blooms around the equipment by lowering the amount of air that reaches the water. Another potential effect is reducing the amount of water that evaporates, as the systems would absorb the heat from solar radiation that would otherwise be absorbed by the water, according to the study.

“It has been certainly an area of interest from hydropower operators because the water is their fuel,” Macknick said, noting one operational floating PV system in Portugal has been paired with a hydropower facility. The results have not been fully quantified.

Getting to 100% zero emissions in California: Beyond CAISO’s eight-solution menu

The state’s IOUs are on track for 50% renewables by 2020, but the goal is 100% clean energy by 2045 and there are still unanswered questions on how to reach it.

The path to 100% emissions-free energy by 2045 in California is not completely carved, and answers are still forthcoming.

Most of the state’s load serving entities (LSEs) required to meet the SB 100 mandate of 60% renewables by 2030 have met their 2017 interim requirement of 27%, according to the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) latest annual RPS report. California’s three dominant investor-owned utilities (IOUs) have reached 33% renewables and are on track for 50% by 2020.

But reaching the 2045 zero emissions goal — also part of SB 100 — will require a wide range of changes, including reducing reliance on natural gas in the power sector and on gasoline-fueled vehicles in the transportation sector.

California’s grid operator has not taken on the 100% emissions-free goal yet because the CPUC’s integrated resource planning (IRP) process “has not reviewed the implementation of SB 100,” California Independent System Operator (CAISO) spokesperson Anne Gonzales told Utility Dive. A “preferred system plan” is expected some time in the first quarter of 2019.

The CPUC’s IRP process has not addressed technical needs for 60% renewables, but has studied “amounts near 57%, which gets us close,” Gonzales said. CAISO has an eight-solution menu for meeting the “current and future renewable energy goals” that includes more distributed energy resources (DER) and demand response, time-of-use rates, transportation electrification and a regional grid. “Simulations show up to 90% of California’s power can come from a combination of wind, solar, batteries and geothermal.”

Zero emission ambitions

One set of potential answers for moving toward California’s zero-emission ambitions can be found in ten scenarios described in an Energy and Environmental Economics (E3) paper prepared for the California Energy Commission (CEC). The scenarios include high levels of energy efficiency, renewables and transportation electrification, but vary on biofuels and building electrification.

The E3 paper was commissioned by the CEC before SB 100 was passed. Its scenarios represent initial and not complete or final assessments of what may be needed for a 100% zero emissions economy.

“Simulations show up to 90% of California’s power can come from a combination of wind, solar, batteries and geothermal,” E3 Senior Partner Arne Olsen told Utility Dive. “Beyond 90%, it gets difficult and expensive.”

The E3 paper’s “four pillars” of deep, economy-wide decarbonization provide some, though incomplete, clarity on what will be needed. Echoing and expanding on items in CAISO’s menu of solutions, they call for economy-wide electrification with renewable generation and energy efficiency, moving to low-carbon — eventually zero-carbon — fuels, and eliminating non-combustion emissions from soils and forests, manufacturing, and livestock agriculture.

There is widespread agreement that all these elements must be addressed to achieve the 100% zero emissions economy foreseen by SB 100.  And power system consultant Lorenzo Kristov, who has led efforts at CAISO, the CEC and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) to integrate higher levels of renewables and distributed generation, said there is another facet few others have considered: how system architecture can optimize coordination of the transmission and distribution systems.

The big picture

CAISO has been studying management of high renewables penetration for a decade and implementing solutions to cope with overgeneration, according to a 2017 presentation by Renewables Integration VP Mark Rothleder.

California’s power industry is being transformed by its renewables objectives, according to Rothleder. The state has an installed wind capacity of 6,087 MW, an installed utility-scale solar capacity of almost 10,000 MW and an estimated 5,000-plus MW of behind-the-meter solar capacity.

CAISO expects an estimated 4,000 MW of new grid-connected renewables by 2020 along with potentially 4,000 MW of behind-the-meter solar. Another 10,000 MW to 15,000 MW of renewables is likely by 2030, Rothleder reported. This growth in zero-emission resources could make achieving the SB 100 goals easier if CAISO can maintain a reliable system.

But the impact of the Duck Curve, caused by midday solar overgeneration that fades just as peak electricity demand rises, is worsening. The size and speed of today’s ramp are what was originally expected in the early 2020s. But the fossil fuel peaker plants used now to cope with this must be eliminated to reach SB 100 goals.

CAISO sees the challenge as an opportunity to integrate zero-emission resources through advanced grid management solutions, according to Rothleder. Price signals and rate design can minimize overgeneration, and demand response and battery storage can flatten the peak. Better operational tools, better forecasting and a regional market can use zero-emissions generation more efficiently.

The E3 study confirms the importance of the CAISO solutions to reaching the 100% zero-emissions by 2045 goal, but offers a higher-level view. Its broad emissions mitigation scenarios model combinations of emissions reduction strategies and assess key technologies, including ‘reach’ technologies, like advanced biofuels and electric heavy duty vehicles, which are “not widely commercialized” but could mitigate emissions “currently difficult to address.”

Getting to the needed deep and economy-wide decarbonization will require scaling up technologies now in the market like energy efficiency and renewables, and aggressively pursuing “at least one ‘reach’ technology,” according to E3.

E3’s most important contribution to the discussion of reaching 100% zero emissions may be its questions about costs and risks. Market transformation will come from higher carbon prices in California’s cap and trade and low-carbon fuel standard programs that increase costs to customers. Incentives and policy can lower those costs, but if the prices are too low, they may fail to spur the needed transformations.

The report focuses on a “High Electrification” scenario that is “lower-cost, lower-risk” than other scenarios but still includes the needed high levels of energy efficiency, renewables-generated power for building and transportation electrification as well as some biomethane delivered through existing natural gas pipelines. But it faces “implementation challenges” due to costs that could compromise consumer acceptance, E3 said.

Consumers face “significant” upfront costs from adopting new technologies that could challenge the appeal of long-term or societal savings, the report adds. This makes individual decisions, like whether to buy solar panels or an EV, the “pivotal” factor in California’s effort.

Electrification of the rest

“There are many ways to get California to 60% renewables and deep decarbonization, but the first one is a more diverse energy mix with something besides more solar,” PaulosAnalysis Principal Ben Paulos told Utility Dive.

Geothermal, biopower and out-of-state wind are suitable because they have different generation profiles and will not add to renewables overgeneration, he said. Their costs are higher than the utility-scale solar and wind now dominating least-cost, best-fit renewables solicitations, “but integration will cost less because batteries to integrate low-cost solar are still expensive.”

“Regulators and policymakers should allow interchangeable technologies to compete to produce the cheapest, cleanest, most reliable resource mix.”

Ben Paulos

Principal, PaulosAnalysis

Targeted energy efficiency is an under-recognized solution, Paulos added. “It is already the least-cost option and targeting it to reduce the evening demand peak would make it even more valuable.”

The goal of energy policy is “to create competition between technologies on as level a playing field as possible and to be open to solutions,” he said. “Regulators and policymakers should allow interchangeable technologies to compete to produce the cheapest, cleanest, most reliable resource mix.”

Transportation electrification will also be essential to meeting SB 100’s 2045 goal because a zero-emissions grid will replace fossil fuel emissions-generating gasoline-powered vehicles, Hewlett Foundation Environmental Program Officer Anand Gopal told Utility Dive. Doing so will require “something like 10 million ZEVs on the road by 2030,” said Gopal, who coauthored a report on the future of EVs in California. Currently, the state has a 1.5 million zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2025 and 5 million by 2030 goal.

The rapidly falling price of batteries is driving adequate market growth, but any policy that targets 10 million ZEVs “means more significant new loads on the grid,” which “would likely cluster at certain times of the day.”

To accommodate the EV charging spikes, more storage would be needed and upgrades to the distribution system would be necessary as well, he said.

Gopal expects EV driver response to smart charging programs and rates to eliminate “only 10% to 15% of the stationary storage needed.”

The current 1.3 GW California storage mandate could support the 60% renewables by 2030 mandate, but adding 5 million ZEVs would require another 200 MW of storage, Gopal estimated. The load from 10 million ZEVs would, according to his rough estimate, more than double that to about 450 MW.

That said, the biggest barrier to transportation electrification is getting the charging infrastructure in place and the most critical step is upgrading the distribution system, he added.

The system piece

Only a rethinking of California’s grid architecture will allow a 100% zero-emissions power system, independent consultant on electric system policy, structure and market design​ Kristov told Utility Dive.

There is a complementarity between the bottom up development of DER on the distribution system and the bulk system that moves renewable energy over large areas, he said.

“The missing piece in California’s [renewables integration] policy is a structured partnership between state level policymakers and local governments,” he said. This is needed because the building and transportation electrification that will replace natural gas-powered heating and cooling with power from a 100% zero emissions grid will largely come through urban planning for “massive DER growth” at the distribution system level.

The state should support funding and coordination of community-level best practices that align city and county actions with state renewable and emission reduction goals, Kristov said.

To integrate all the pieces needed to achieve the SB 100 zero emissions by 2045 goal, communities and Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs) can partner with IOU distribution companies working at the wider service territory level, he said.

“The power system should be re-envisioned as a layered architecture,” Kristov said. The question to be answered by California’s work to decarbonize is whether there should be central optimization of all DER by CAISO or coordination of DER at the transmission-distribution interface by a distribution system operator (DSO).

“With a DSO coordinating DER, the bulk system does not need control over the local activity and the loss of top down control does not mean chaos,” he added.

“The traditional central control approach is not sustainable in the long term because grid defection will get cheaper, and constrained local communities will have no choice but to municipalize or go off-grid.”

Lorenzo Kristov

Electric System Policy, Structure and Market Design Consultant

There is a predisposition toward top-down planning and control, Kristov said. But to achieve the system integration of distributed and central station renewables needed to eliminate emissions from all sectors of its economy, California needs “a statewide vision” of resilient communities. This includes recognition of CCAs and municipal and cooperative utilities, as the energy arms of local governments, and recognition of IOUs as the providers of distribution services.

A state policy framework that targets SB 100’s 2045 goal can reinforce those relationships through incentives and directives that align local interests with state policies, he said. “The traditional central control approach is not sustainable in the long term because grid defection will get cheaper, and constrained local communities will have no choice but to municipalize or go off-grid.”

That would likely leave in place some reliance on natural gas in the power sector and fossil fuel-powered vehicles in the transportation sector, delaying the economy-wide integration of zero-emissions efforts needed to reach SB 100’s 2045 goal.

The only way to avoid “massive stranded investments” and preserve a “coherent” system is to “integrate from the bottom up and from the top down and allow local communities a substantive role,” Kristov said. “But local communities’ perspectives can be too narrow, which is why state objectives and local perspectives must be aligned.”

California AG: PG&E could be prosecuted for murder

Dive Brief:

  • California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told a federal judge last week that Pacific Gas & Electric could be tried for murder or manslaughter if the utility is found to have operated its equipment in a “reckless” manner that helped to spark the state’s deadly wildfires in the last two years.
  • Becerra filed the opinion with a federal judge overseeing the criminal case associated with the 2010 pipeline explosion on PG&E’s gas system in San Bruno, Calif., The Sacramento Bee reported.
  • PG&E’s possible role in sparking the state’s wildfires, including the most-recent and deadly Camp Fire, has thrown the utility’s future into uncertainty. Along with a possible murder charge, last month, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) announced it will consider splitting apart the company’s ​natural gas and electric delivery businesses.​
Dive Insight:The New Year is off to an inauspicious start for PG&E. The utility needs to respond to the Attorney General’s opinion by today, according to local media. However, the state’s brief is only intended to inform the court of possible outcomes — any charges would need to be filed by local officials rather than state law enforcement. Responding to Becerra’s brief, PG&E issued a statement reinforcing its commitment to public and workforce safety, along with reducing the risk of wildfire.

In 2010, a gas pipeline explosion on PG&E’s system killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes. In 2015, the CPUC hit PG&E with a $1.6 billion fine in three investigations related to the explosion — the largest penalty ever levied against a public utility in U.S. history. Since then, focus has turned to California’s wildfires and the potential liability faced by utilities. The state’s “inverse condemnation” rules can put the regulated energy companies in extreme jeopardy, even if they are found to have followed all rules and regulations. California regulators and lawmakers have said they want to shield PG&E from bankruptcy, but that could still include significant structural changes for the large investor-owned utility.

The CPUC in December said it is considering a wide range of possibilities to improve the safety of energy delivery, including: replacing the utility’s board of directors; conditioning PG&E’s return on equity on safety performance; reorganizing PG&E’s corporate structure to include regional subsidiaries; and splitting apart its gas and electric delivery services.

CONTRACTING OPPORTUNITIES DCSEU Solar for All Proposal Deadline is January 9th 2019

The DCSEU is committed to working with District businesses to help residents and business save money and energy. Throughout each Fiscal Year, which begins October 1 and ends September 30, the DCSEU releases Requests for Proposals (RFPs), Requests for Qualifications (RFQs), and Invitations to Bid (ITBs) for contracting opportunities. See below for current opportunities and check back often for updates.



The District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE)’s “Solar for All” program, which kicked off in 2016, is designed to decrease energy costs for thousands of low-income DC families. The DCSEU will implement a new round of “Solar for All” initiatives in FY 2019 that will complement and build upon earlier “Solar for All” awards.

In support of this program, the DCSEU is seeking the following:

In total, the DCSEU’s “Solar for All” work is expected to  benefit up to 6,800 income-qualified DC households over the next three years.


All questions must be submitted via email to by 5:00 p.m. EST, December 17, 2018 and will only be accepted through email submissions.* Telephone calls, faxes, and / or requests for a solicitation will not be accepted or acknowledged.  A webinar/conference call to review questions and answers may be scheduled at the DCSEU’s discretion.

Answers to all questions received will be posted (along with the questions) to the DCSEU website no later than 5:00 p.m. EST, December 21, 2018.

*Please see each individual RFP for guidelines on submitting questions.


The deadline for delivery of responses to this RFP is January 9. 2019 at 5:00 p.m. EST. As stated in Section VI, responses must be submitted electronically to

In addition, the financial solvency documents identified in Section VII, must be hand delivered or sent certified mail, signature required to DC Sustainable Energy Utility, 80 M Street SE, Suite 310, Washington, DC 20003 and received by the DCSEU no later than 5:00 p.m. EST on January 25, 2019.



The DCSEU is inviting proposals from qualified and experienced providers of innovative efficiency finance solutions to participate in the Energy Efficiency Financing Program 2.0 (Program) as a lending partner (Lender). The DCSEU is specifically inviting proposals from organizations that have a demonstrable track record in the single family homes and/or small business customer segments.


All questions must be submitted via e-mail with the subject line “RFP-DCSEU-2018– EEFP Questions” to

The deadline for questions was Friday, December 14, 2018 at 5:00 PM EST. Telephone calls, faxes, and/or requests for a solicitation will not be accepted or acknowledged.


For ease and efficiency of review, the DCSEU has specified the requirements for submitting a response to this RFP. Respondents must follow exactly, and be responsive to, ALL requirements of this RFP. It is the respondent’s responsibility to provide all specified materials in the required form and format. Responses that are not in the required form and format will not be considered.

Responses to this RFP must be submitted electronically to The deadline has been extended to 5:00 p.m. EST on January 4, 2019. Responses received after this deadline will not be accepted.

In addition, the financial solvency documents stated in Section VII, must be hand delivered or sent certified mail, signature required to DC Sustainable Energy Utility, 80 M Street SE, Suite 310, Washington, DC 20003 and received by the DCSEU no later than 5:00 p.m on January 4, 2019.


The DCSEU is seeking experienced energy efficiency Service Providers with the capacity and technical capability to demonstrate and prove transparent, persistent energy savings. Once approved, Service Providers will be included in a list of “DCSEU’s Participating Pay for Performance Partners.” This list will be provided to DCSEU’s customers for their consideration while undertaking energy efficiency efforts.


Respondents may submit proposals at any time during the fiscal year. Applications will be reviewed quarterly or on a case by case basis as resources are available. All responses to the following must be submitted electronically to with “RFQ-DCSEU-2019–P4PX Response” in the subject line.


The DCSEU has released a Request for Proposals for our Retail Lighting Program for the promotion period October 1, 2018 – September 30, 2019. Manufacturers are encouraged to submit proposals for stores located within all 8 Wards in the District of Columbia.


Please complete one workbook per store and send back to

Proposals will be evaluated on a rolling basis throughout the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018, pending availability of funds.


The DCSEU has issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) seeking Service Providers to potentially provide the DCSEU with service(s) for one or more of the following functional categories of work during Fiscal Year 2019*:

  1. Commercial and Institutional (C&I)
  2. Income Qualified Multifamily
  3. Single Family Weatherization
  4. Inspection Services
  5. Energy Kits
  6. Marketing
  7. Workforce Development
  8. Emergency HVAC


Responses must be submitted electronically via the DCSEU Contractor Web Portal at

In order to submit to the web portal, please request a username by filling out the web form.

Responses will be reviewed on a rolling basis as resources and/or funds are available.

If you have any questions about submitting your response, please call toll-free 202-479-2222. In addition, the financial solvency documents stated in Section VI, must be hand delivered or sent via certified mail, signature required to DC Sustainable Energy Utility, 80 M Street SE, Suite 310, Washington, DC 20003 and received by the DCSEU before a review of the submittal can take place.

*Contracts awarded in FY 2019 through this RFQ do not guarantee work.


The DCSEU is seeking lighting distributors to submit proposals to offer reduced price qualified products at the time of purchase through prescribed incentives provided to qualified distributors by the DCSEU.

Respondents must follow exactly, and be responsive to, all information requested. It is the respondent’s responsibility to provide all specified materials in the required form and format. Interested Service Providers who meet the following criteria listed below must request a Participating Distributor Agreement by emailing and copying Christian Placencia, Program Manager at

  • Name of business, contact person, and contact information
  • Evidence of CBE (SBE) status, if applicable
  • Licenses
  • Disclosure of any pertinent litigation

Distributors must be:

  1. Manufacturer-authorized to stock and sell Qualifying Equipment for resale to customers located in the District of Columbia; and
  2. Maintain a storefront either within the District of Columbia OR within 20 miles of Washington, DC.


HVAC Contractors that are licensed in Washington, DC are welcome to apply to be a Participating Contractor. Contractors must be a Participating Contractor in order to offer the DCSEU Residential HeatingCooling, and Water Heating rebates to their DC residential customers. Interested contractors should email and submit the following documents. Proposals accepted on a rolling basis.

  • Master Gas Fitting and Plumbing license to offer Heating and Water Heating rebates
  • Refrigeration/AC license to offer Cooling rebates

The DCSEU will review licenses, and then request the following documents from contractors:

  • Signed copy of DCSEU Contractor Participation Agreement
  • Signed copy of DCSEU General Confidentiality Guidelines Memo
  • Certificate(s) of Insurance
  • W-9
  • Vendor Intake Form

Please allow 3 business days for documents to be reviewed. Only HVAC equipment installed after the date contractors are enrolled as a DCSEU Participating Contractor is eligible for rebates.







How FERC’s ‘unprecedented’ PJM order could unravel capacity markets

The landmark order echoes longstanding arguments from the coal and gas sector, but observers say it could end up a boon for renewables and nuclear.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last week ordered changes to PJM’s capacity market rules that regulatory veterans say will reshape the grid operator’s relationship with its state participants and could lead to the unraveling of the capacity market construct altogether.

“This is unprecedented federal intervention in state policy,” said Rob Gramlich, an energy consultant and former advisor to former FERC Chair Pat Wood III. “We’ve never seen this kind of federal intrusion in the energy industries.”

Friday, FERC rejected two proposals from grid operator PJM to compensate for state energy subsidies in its capacity market, which PJM says are depressing prices for other generators. Neither option — a two-part capacity market or an expanded price floor — would sufficiently mitigate the impact of policies like nuclear subsidies and renewable energy mandates, regulators wrote in a 3-2 decision.

“Something bigger is at play here than you usually see in a FERC order.”

Tony Clark

Former Republican FERC Commissioner

Rejection of the two closely watched proposals would have sent PJM back to the drawing board, but the FERC majority went further, outlining a detailed plan to change the grid operator’s capacity market construct to remove some level of subsidized resources altogether.

“In terms of the commission doing something really new from a policy standpoint, it caught my attention immediately,” said Tony Clark, a former Republican commissioner nominated nominated by President Obama. “Something bigger is at play here than you usually see in a FERC order.”

That plan is a novel recasting of the Fixed Resource Requirement (FRR), a rule in PJM that allows utilities to opt out of the capacity market if they can serve power demand with their own generation resources. Under FERC’s proposed Alternative FRR, specific resources like a wind farm or a nuclear plant could also opt out, removing them and their subsidies from the market.

“That’s a really big rule change that could fundamentally alter capacity markets in PJM,” said Robbie Orvis, director of energy policy design at the think tank Energy Innovation.

The two Democrats on FERC lambasted the decision, with one writing that it puts the commission on the “wrong side of history in the fight against climate change.” But depending on its structure, Orvis and Gramlich said such a rule could ultimately be a boon to renewable and nuclear energy and contribute to the gradual decay of the remaining capacity market.

“It could be the beginning of the end for capacity markets,” Gramlich wrote in an email.

‘A tipping point’  

FERC’s Friday order is the culmination of years of hand-wringing in the PJM market over the impact of state energy policies. Owners of coal and natural gas plants complain that state support for renewables or nuclear plants allows competitors to bid lower prices into the capacity market than they otherwise would, cutting into the revenues for fossil generators and forcing some to retire.

For years, the question mostly considered modest renewable portfolio standards and federal clean energy support like the production tax credit for wind energy — still a relatively small part of the PJM electricity mix.

But in recent years, states have begun to step up those mandates and subsidize some large nuclear generators at risk of retirement, dramatically expanding the amount of capacity in the market subject to direct state subsidy. Illinois passed a nuclear subsidy in 2016, New Jersey passed one this year, and a similar proposal in Pennsylvania could come up for debate before the next PJM capacity auction.

That expansion of state subsidies likely pushed regulators to issue their bold order, Clark said.

“There was always this open question about whether a tipping point could be reached with the commissioners just too uncomfortable with the results of the [PJM capacity] auction in terms of it not producing just and reasonable rates,” Clark said. “They feel like the tipping point finally has been met and I think that’s what this order is what they’re saying, at least within PJM.”

The decision comes less than two months after FERC approved a two-part capacity market proposal from ISO-New England similar to the PJM option it rejected Friday. The difference between the two proposals, Commissioner Robert Powelson wrote in a concurrence, is that the ISO-NE proposal largely sought to compensate for market impacts of new subsidized resources — namely offshore wind and imported hydro — while the PJM proposal focused more on existing resources — the newly subsidized nuclear plants.

“The nuclear subsidies I think are really what brought us to the point where we are,” Clark said. “Barring the payouts to these big, dispatchable nuclear units, who knows if we would have reached this point where the commission really questions the entire capacity market construct.”

The FERC majority urged PJM stakeholders to act quickly, calling for initial comments on the proposal within 60 days and reply comments 30 days after that — a timetable both Democratic commissioners say is too short for such a broad reform.

The commission’s reasoning on its timetable remains unclear. Last month, President Trump directed the Department of Energy to recommend policies to save uneconomic coal and nuclear plants in PJM from retirement, a move that sector observers say could “blow up” PJM’s market altogether. The directive came after DOE officials argued FERC has ignored the consequences of coal and nuclear retirements, including rejecting an earlier bailout proposal from the agency in January.

One explanation for FERC’s expedited timeframe could be that it aims to outpace the DOE action, Orvis said, but the order itself makes no mention of the bailout, which FERC is addressing in a separate docket on grid resilience.

“It could also be to try to guarantee that all of the likely things that are going to happen with this order are in place for the next base residual auction,” Orvis said, which happens in May 2019. “I’m not sure why, but I agree this is an unrealistically accelerated timeframe.”

“I think the commission is concerned about the next base residual auction,” Clark agreed, noting that PJM could still ask for an extension. “If you’re going to have any prayer of changing that you almost by definition need to do something quickly.”

Wither capacity markets?

On its face, FERC’s order appears to be a boon for independent coal and gas generators, who have argued for years that energy mandates and subsidies unfairly depress market prices for other participants. Even the language of Powelson’s concurrence — which sought to further explain the Alternative FRR concept — echoed the longstanding arguments of gas generators that individual states should bear the cost of energy subsidies.

Under FERC’s outlined Alternative FRR, states could still subsidize power resources, but they would be removed from the market along with a commensurate amount of load that they serve. Any resources not removed could still participate in the capacity market, but would be subject to a strict Minimum Offer Price Rule that would ensure they cannot bid in below a certain price.

The majority argues that this will ensure that states, and not all market participants, bear the cost of state power subsidies, while the Democratic commissioners said it would overrule power mix decisions that are supposed to be left to the states.

One potential unintended consequence, the dissenters wrote, is that states will double down on their energy policies when presented with the Alternative FRR option, removing so many resources that the remaining capacity market cannot function.

“[T]he expanded FRR construct appears to provide states with a clear option to re-regulate certain generating facilities, and to the extent a state made the decision to transition from the capacity market to state resource selection, the expanded FRR construct could be one possible approach,” Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur wrote. “However, no state in PJM has indicated its desire to re-regulate, a choice that could potentially be forced upon them by this proposal.”

How the Alternative FRR impacts the capacity market will largely depend on how it is structured, observers agreed, particularly which subsidies allow a resource to qualify for it. If applied broadly, Orvis said it could be a boon to new clean energy technologies by “creating a lot of new optionality for utilities and state regulators.”

“Right now if the utility wants to go out and bilaterally contract for their load, they have to do that for all of their capacity and they don’t participate in the capacity market at all,” he said. “Now they would be able to go out and just procure for part of their capacity bilaterally and still put the rest in the capacity market.”

“Capacity markets, which procure the wrong product and prevent full clean energy participation, are no friend of clean energy.”

Rob Gramlich

Energy consultant and former FERC advisor

This, he said, could allow for more flexibility for states looking to increase renewable energy or preserve existing nuclear plants. “If you’re a renewables developer I would imagine this makes life a little easier for you because now instead of having to sign a contract for differences with a utility where you have to forecast your energy and capacity market revenue, you can just sign a [power purchase agreement] for the utility to just buy power from you,” Orvis said.

But the devil remains in the details, all observers said. Clark cautioned that the new FRR rule could also make states pull back on clean energy support.

“On one hand I could say for the nuclear and renewable generators, maybe this is net positive because if adopted it gives them a path forward at the states and they can go the states and sell it and if states want to support the resources they can,” Clark said. “On the other hand, I could probably make the case that individual states, if they feel like they have to pay the full freight for these resources, may be less inclined to enact some of those public policies that support them.

“It’s almost too early me to tell if this becomes a net positive for those resources or a net negative,” Clark said.

Initial reaction from Wall Street indicates analysts indicates they expect nuclear generators and states where they are located to push for a robust and easy-to-access Alternative FRR.

“We anticipate states like Illinois and New Jersey will vigorously defend their ability to remove their nuclear assets from the capacity market and pay them directly, opening the door to other assets not presently clearing the auction but also potentially needing subsidies in both states (e.g. Dresden in IL from the last auction),” Bank of America analyst Julien Dumoulin-Smith wrote to clients in a note.

If other states take a similar tack and begin pulling substantial capacity out of the market, it could leave too few resources in some areas to support a functioning capacity market, Gramlich and Orvis said. That could make LaFleur’s concern of a forced re-regulation of the capacity market a reality — but the analysts say that may not be a bad thing.

“If the FRR opt-out can be made workable, that might be a good thing for clean energy and consumers,” Gramlich wrote. “Capacity markets, which procure the wrong product and prevent full clean energy participation, are no friend of clean energy.”

PG&E debt drawdown raises concerns of potential bankruptcy due to fire costs

Dive Brief:

  • Pacific Gas and Electric released financial documents Tuesday that experts say could be a warning that the utility will soon file for bankruptcy or face other serious financial issues due to escalating costs related to multiple California wildfires.
  • PG&E filed an 8-K document with the Securities and Exchange Commission disclosing it has withdrawn all of the cash available from its revolving credit lines, a move that often presages a bankruptcy filing. The utility could also be preparing for other situations, such as a credit downgrade or another state report linking its equipment to wildfires.
  • PG&E told financial analysts that its move is due to billions of dollars in debt coming due in the next few months, and not a preparation for bankruptcy, according to a note obtained by Utility Dive.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Dive Insight:

Companies use revolving credit lines to finance their operations, and financial experts say drawing all that debt down at once, as PG&E did Tuesday, typically means a firm is preparing for tough times.

“This is a surprising move and it is potentially consistent with a bankruptcy filing,” said Michael Wara, a professor at Stanford Law School, “but there are other potential explanations that are also possible, especially under the circumstances in which PG&E finds itself.”

Companies preparing for bankruptcy often draw down their debt to avoid more onerous financing terms through the bankruptcy process, Wara said. But PG&E could also be putting cash in the bank to insulate itself from other financial situations.

One option is that PG&E is preparing to have its credit rating downgraded to non-investment status, Wara said, which would exacerbate its already limited access to capital markets. It also could be anticipating that California fire authorities will find its equipment responsible for the Tubbs Fire, which killed 24 people last year.

State officials have already found PG&E wires responsible for 16 fires last year. On Monday, California utility regulators announced a new investigation into PG&E’s involvement with the ongoing Camp Fire, which has killed 42 people so far — the worst in state history.

In June — before the Camp Fire outbreak — PG&E officials told state lawmakers that fire expenses could force the utility into bankruptcy or compel it to break the company into several pieces. Financial analysts say those are just two options of many that could be foreshadowed by the debt drawdown.

“They’ve shored up and essentially enhanced their financial flexibility and I think given the situation that’s occurred there it’s not entirely surprising,” said Paul Patterson, an analyst at Glenrock Associates, a financial research firm. “Whether that means they are going to take additional action remains to be seen.”

“They’re in a situation which is pretty extreme,” he added, “and I think it behooves them to take action to increase their financial flexibility.”

PG&E did not respond directly to questions about the debt drawdown, saying in an emailed statement that the “entire company is focused on supporting first responders and assisting our customers and communities impacted by the Camp Fire.”

However, in a note to clients, Julien Dumoulin-Smith, a Bank of America-Merrill Lynch analyst, said the utility assured his firm that it is not preparing a bankruptcy filing.

“We had a chance to catch up with the company,” Dumoulin-Smith wrote, “noting that this isn’t an indication of pre-filing for bankruptcy as they have $800 [million] of short-term debt coming due over the next three months as well as historical debt maturing in excess of $1 [billion].”

“However,” the analyst noted, “the reality is that this is very alarming given the timing as we don’t know the specifics of the situation.”

If PG&E does file for bankruptcy, it would be the second time the company has been through the process in less than two decades. The company last emerged from bankruptcy almost 15 years ago following its filing during the California energy crisis.

BRIEF FERC nominee McNamee slams renewables, green groups in Feb. video


Dive Brief:

  • Bernard McNamee, President Trump’s nominee for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, sharply criticized renewable energy and environmental groups while calling for a “unified campaign” to support fossil fuels in a Feb. 2018 speech before Texas lawmakers, a video obtained by Utility Dive shows.
  • McNamee, at the time working for the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), said fossil fuels are “key to our way of life,” but renewable energy “screws up the whole physics of the grid.” He also portrayed industry lawsuits with environmental groups as a “constant battle between liberty and tyranny.”
  • McNamee’s comments come to light as the Senate considers his nomination to FERC. The former Department of Energy official told senators last week he would separate his previous policy work from his regulatory considerations if confirmed, a pledge he reiterated in a statement to Utility Dive.

Dive Insight:

McNamee’s comments are likely to enhance concerns among Democratic senators, environmental groups and the clean energy industry that the FERC nominee is biased against renewable power and toward fossil fuels.

FERC is an independent agency whose regulators typically pride themselves on a “fuel neutral” approach to energy regulation, but a video of McNamee’s speech obtained by Utility Dive shows him calling for a broad industry campaign to build public support for fossil fuels.

“What this is really about is changing the hearts and minds of the American people about what they think about energy and to start believing in it again,” McNamee told an audience at TPPF’s 2018 Policy Orientation for Texas lawmakers. “Understanding that fossil fuels are not something dirty, something we have to move and get away from, but understand that they are key to our prosperity, our way of life and also to a clean environment.”

McNamee also criticized renewable energy in a thinly veiled reference to the political debate around the science of climate change.

“Renewables, when they come on and off, it screws up the whole the physics of the grid,” McNamee said. “So when people want to talk about science, they ought to talk about the physics of the grid and know what real science is, and that is how do you keep the lights on? And it is with fossil fuels and nuclear.”

The argument that coal and nuclear plants are essential for grid reliability was a central tenet of the DOE’s coal and nuclear bailout proposal that McNamee helped design when he headed the agency’s policy office last year. At his confirmation hearing last week, McNamee distanced himself from that plan, which FERC unanimously rejected, saying that he was only following directions as an agency lawyer when he worked on the proposal.

“I understand the difference in my role as a lawyer when I worked on [the bailout] proposal … and what the role of FERC is,” McNamee said. “I can honestly say I would be an independent arbiter if the [coal and nuclear] issues come before me at FERC.”

McNamee’s February speech, however, was not given when he was employed at DOE, but rather during his time as head of the 10th Amendment Center at TPPF, where he worked between stints at the agency this year. In an emailed statement through a FERC spokesperson, McNamee reiterated the same explanation for his comments as he gave senators for his role in the bailout.

“I recognize the significant role that renewables play in our energy mix, and I stand by my statement that if confirmed as a Commissioner, I would be an independent arbiter basing my decisions on the law and the facts, not politics,” McNamee wrote.

The video of McNamee’s speech was provided to Utility Dive by an anonymous source who said it was downloaded from TPPF’s YouTube page in early August, shortly after reports surfaced that McNamee may be nominated to FERC. The source requested anonymity because their organization has not taken a public position on McNamee’s nomination.

TPPF, funded largely by oil and gas interests, lists a number of other speeches from the Policy Orientation on its page, but McNamee’s address is absent. The organization did not respond to requests for comment, but on Tuesday the Energy and Policy Institute, a liberal watchdog group, posted the full video on its YouTube page.

During the filmed speech, McNamee touted his experience as chief of staff for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who sued the Obama administration over the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States rules, two environmental regulations. He also assailed environmental groups and their “organized propaganda campaign” against fossil fuels.

“[The Natural Resources Defense Council] and the Environmental Defense Fund, they’re the ones in court. They’re the ones going out there and battling and making the case in their court and they’re winning,” he said. “They are going to try to wait us out, litigate us out, and they’re going to try to return us to the administrative tyranny that they’ve been pushing for so long.”

McNamee also expanded his argument to illustrate a broader political point.

“The green movement is always talking about more government control because it’s the constant battle between liberty and tyranny,” he said. “It’s about people who want to say I know what’s better for you.”

Whether McNamee’s comments will affect his confirmation remains unclear, but he appeared to be headed for approval from the Senate after his hearing last week. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Ak., chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee that oversees FERC nominations, said she was happy with McNamee’s comments.

“What I took away was that his role when he was at the Department of Energy was to take the Secretary’s directive and to draft that [coal and nuclear] policy,” she told reporters after the hearing. “His role at the FERC would be different than that and I would expect that he would respect those lanes.”