At the invitation of a stakeholder group convened by the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC), I recently gave a presentation in Concord on the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Board (EEB), a stakeholder advisory body to the state’s energy efficiency programs. In addition to being a Senior Attorney at Acadia Center, I currently sit as the Chair of the EEB. The New Hampshire PUC has been convening stakeholders in 2015 to consider how it could ramp up investment in cost-effective energy efficiency.
My presentation detailed the benefits of robust stakeholder engagement in energy efficiency planning and explained the main roles and responsibilities of the EEB. Here are some key facts and insights:
- The CT EEB’s main role – as set by statute – is to advise and assist the utilities in developing and implementing the state’s energy efficiency plans and programs. The Board’s set of diverse stakeholders has been performing that role successfully since 1999 and is now in the process of finalizing the next three-year energy efficiency plan, known as the 2016-2018 Conservation & Load Management Plan (C&LM Plan).
- The CT EEB’s statutorily-required review and approval of the C&LM Plan is an important formal step in the process of ensuring that the Plan offers strong and verifiable efficiency benefits to customers before it moves on to final review and approval by the CT Dept. of Energy & Environmental Protection.
- A permanent stakeholder body like the CT EEB helps with energy efficiency planning in several valuable ways: (1) it gives energy efficiency programs a broad base of support and input from expert stakeholders; (2) it leads to more efficient and productive energy efficiency decision making; (3) it reinforces high standards for energy efficiency program design and implementation; and (4) it helps to ward off raids on energy efficiency funding and give programs much needed stability and continuity.
- Most importantly, stakeholder bodies can help drive strong results for energy efficiency customers. For example, for the past eight years the three New England states with stakeholder councils – Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island – have all placed in the top ten of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) State Energy Efficiency Scorecard.
In the end, the significant and proven value produced by stakeholder bodies like the EEB underscores the need to formally involve stakeholders in the major energy resource decisions we face in coming years as the energy system rapidly evolves and modernizes. For more on how stakeholder bodies can protect and help the modern energy consumer, see Acadia Center’s recent UtilityVision report.
Bill Dornbos is the Director of the Connecticut Office and Senior Attorney for Acadia Center. Bill focuses on advancing policy and regulatory solutions that seek to transform the energy system and move Connecticut towards a climate-safe, sustainable future. Recent work includes advocating for expanded investment in cost-effective energy efficiency for all fuels and analyzing greenhouse gas emissions trends in the Northeast.