Changes to Clean Heat Standard (S.305) - April 3, 2024

The Senate Natural Resources Committee got a first look at S.305 on Wednesday, which deals with changes to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) as we have profiled in other reports. Senator Bray described the bill to the Committee as “things all PUC related rolled into one bill.” It re-ups a three-year Energy Efficiency pilot program (but removes all oversight), provides “consistent funding” to said program, and updates key deadlines in the Clean Heat Standard (CHS).

He shared that PUC's February 15 report on the CHS illustrates “just how complicated” what we've asked the PUC to do is. The June date for the Default Delivery Agent (DDA) “seemed logical” when they originally passed Act 18, but "I don't know what we were thinking," he said.

Ed McNamara (Chair, PUC) stated that “It's an obvious outcome of electrification that electric bills are going to go up as your total energy costs change from heating fuel and gasoline.”

Melissa Bailey (Director, State Office of Energy) had concerns about removing PUC oversight of the energy efficiency pilot program. She suggested that they cap how much utilities can draw under the program and put some regulatory safeguards in place to protect consumers.

Any cost pressures in the electric sector are going to make it harder for people to electrify, she argued, and “we need to understand that.” There is some language in the bill (that could be strengthened) asking the Public Utility Commission to design a statewide energy cost containment program to provide financial assistance to lower-income electric ratepayers.

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