In January, we published a list of the top 10 utility regulation trends of 2018. With 2019 beyond the halfway point, we check in on the top public utility commission (PUC) actions and trends so far this year.
Ten prominent trends and actions stand out above the rest, from renewables increasingly dominating utility resource plans, to wildfires sparking utility safety and liability concerns in California, to transportation electrification investments becoming more widespread from coast to coast.
Below is an executive summary of the complete roundup, which has specific examples of state PUC action. (You can read AEE’s full version here.)
- Renewables dominating utility resource plans
During the first six months of 2019, the trend of recent years toward a more advanced, clean and flexible grid has continued. This has largely been driven by the continued price decline in renewables. In most states, it is now often cheaper to build new wind and solar plants (in some cases even when paired with storage) than to operate existing fossil-fuel power plants. Utilities are starting to take notice, and renewables are dominating their long-term resource plans.
At least nine states plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. have now set 100 percent clean energy targets. New Mexico’s Public Regulation Commission approved Public Service Co. of New Mexico’s latest integrated resource plan, which calls for the retirement of all coal-fired generation by 2031. And in Michigan, DTE Electric Co. and Consumers Energy Co. proposed plans to phase out coal by 2040. We’ve also seen action in Colorado, Indiana, Georgia and Mississippi.
- Rethinking the utility business model
Many states are exploring changes to the traditional cost-of-service regulatory model to move toward a system that better reflects new market conditions, allows utilities to take advantage of the growing service economy, and rewards performance against established goals rather than inputs.