Statewide Focus Needed on Vectren EDG Case
There needs to be a Indiana statewide public spotlight on Vectren’s EDG tariff case before the IURC since it likely may set the pathway for the next four electric utilities—NIPSCO, Duke, IPL and I&M. to drastically reduce the amount paid to customers for excess DG. SEA 309 dictates that these DG tariffs must be filed no later than March 1, 2021.
Vectren’s new integrated resource plan puts increased reliance on large scale solar farm output but ignores customer owned solar facilities. Moreover, Vectren’s recent IURC filings seek to reduce the amount paid to Vectren customers for excess generation from their roof top solar units. This week the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) ruled against solar and net metering advocates with two rulings. First, over the objections of the Office of the Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), Indiana DG, Evansville solar installer Morton Solar and Solarize Indiana the Commission approved several 30-day filings from investor owned utilities requesting approval of annual avoided cost/PURPA rates . The objections suggested that these Vectren filings were not compliant with federal law under the Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA) requiring utilities to pay reasonable amounts for customer owned DG excess generation. Second the Commission denied a Motion to Consolidate the two Vectren 30-day filings with Vectren’s pending petition to establish Rider Excess Distributed Generation (EDG) in Cause No. 45378.
At stake is the establishment of fair and equitable rates for Vectren customers who produce their own power using solar panels, etc. The consumer groups contend that Vectren’s proposed Rider EDG must be compliant with federal law such as PURPA as well as Indiana law.
Vectren’s proposed EDG rate will not allow cost effective investments for customers with continued 1 to 1 credit of net excess using net metering vs. an anticipated excess DG rate of 3.1 cents.
The consequences of the requested adoption of Rider EDG is evident from what has transpired in other states such as Nevada. After effectively eliminating net metering in Nevada the rooftop solar market came to a grinding halt. The situation was finally remedied after a huge outcry from the public and action taken by the Nevada state legislature to reinstate net metering.
Across the state of Indiana, home owners, businesses, schools and local government interested in installing solar systems to achieve long term energy savings need to realize that although they are not Vectren customers, this case will likely establish an important precedence for the other four (4) investor owned electric utilities who may file similar petition’s with the IURC for low excess DG rates to replace net metering by March 1, 2021.
Thus far Indiana state legislators such as Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) who chairs the House Utility Committee and co-chairs the 21st Century Energy Task Force have not allowed for a comprehensive look at what is likely to happen to various businesses when net metering is eliminated. They have indicated that such a dialogue is still premature since technically net metering is not set to expire until 7/1/2022. Unfortunately, Vectren customers do not have luxury to wait. Vectren has indicated they want approval by the IURC for Rider EDG by the end of this year. Indications are also that NIPSCO will file for a DG tariff before the end of 2020.
Therefore, the time for action is now!
VECTREN WILL OFFICIALLY FILE ITS FINAL INTEGRATED RESOURCE PLAN (IRP) on 6/30/2020 WITH IURC
Although IndianaDG is pleased about some of Vectren’s preferred Portfolio, their IRP appears to ignore any meaningful contribution from Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) such as rooftop solar.
Vectren should design their next RFP expected this fall to provide better opportunities for smaller and more diverse solar resources. Vectren needs to modify the criteria to evaluate bids to give more favorable consideration to DERs.
We sincerely hope that the results from the Vectren Preferred Portfolio will not create another flurry of activities during the 2021 session of the Indiana General Assembly to throw a lifesaver to a sinking and uneconomic and dirty energy industry such as coal fired power plants.
Unfortunately, the state of Indiana appears to continue to lag behind in the high stakes competition with other states to bring new clean energy jobs and related economic development.
Will you contact your state legislators and candidates to explain action is needed now before it is too late?
Here is the link to Utility Articles approving the 30-day filings:
The 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force is expected to meet again starting in mid-August 2020.