PREPROPOSAL STATEMENT OF INQUIRY
Subject of Possible Rule Making: The subject of this inquiry is to examine whether new or modified regulations are needed to govern aspects of investor-owned electric and natural gas utility operations for which new federal standards are included in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. These new federal standards address: (1) Integrated resource planning, (2) rate design to promote energy efficiency investment (electric and natural gas), (3) consideration of smart grid investments, (4) smart grid information, (5) energy efficiency (natural gas). Review of the integrated resource planning standard may lead to proposed amendments to WAC 480-100-238, 480-90-238, and chapter 480-109 WAC. Review of the smart grid information standard may lead to proposed amendments to WAC 480-100-103.
Statutes Authorizing the Agency to Adopt Rules on this Subject: RCW 80.01.040 and 80.04.160.
Reasons Why Rules on this Subject may be Needed and What They Might Accomplish: On December 19, 2007, amendments to Section 111(d), of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. § 2621(d)) (PURPA), and amendments to Section 303(b) of PURPA (15 U.S.C. § 3203(b)) became effective under the federal Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), Pub. Law 110-140. Section 408 of The America Recovery and Reinvestment Act also amends Section 111(d) and Subsections (b) and (d) of Section 112 of PURPA (16 U.S.C. § 2622). Combined, the amendments require the commission to consider and determine whether to implement or adopt standards for integrated resource planning, rate design to promote efficiency investment (for both natural gas and electric), energy efficiency (natural gas only), smart grid, and smart grid information. The commission is initiating this inquiry to determine whether implementation or adoption by rule of any of these new federal standards for utilities under its jurisdiction would be appropriate to carry out the purposes of PURPA (to encourage conservation of energy supplied by electric utilities, optimal efficiency of electric utility facilities and resources, and equitable rates for electric consumers) and is otherwise appropriate and consistent with applicable state law.
Section 532 (a)(16) and (17) of EISA establishes two new utility standards for electric utilities: Integrated resource planning and rate design to promote efficiency investment (rate design). State regulatory authorities are required to consider and determine whether to implement these two standards by December 19, 2009. This requirement does not apply if, prior to August 8, 2005, a state has taken "prior action" to implement or consider implementing that standard or a comparable standard, or if the state's legislature has voted on implementing the standard or a comparable standard.
Section 532(b) of EISA establishes two new utility standards for natural gas utilities: Energy efficiency and rate design modifications to promote efficiency investments. State regulatory authorities are required to consider and determine whether to adopt these standards by December 19, 2009. There is no "prior action" exemption for these two standards.
Section 1307 of EISA establishes two standards for electric utilities regarding: Consideration of smart grid investments and smart grid information. The smart grid investments standard requires utilities to consider smart grid investments prior to investing in "nonadvanced" grid technologies. State regulatory authorities are required to consider allowing utilities to recover the cost of such investments and to allow utilities to recover the cost of existing plant[s] made obsolete by such investments. State regulatory authorities must consider and determine whether to implement these two standards by December 19, 2009. This requirement does not apply if the "prior action" exemption discussed above applies.
Other Federal and State Agencies that Regulate this Subject and the Process Coordinating the Rule with These Agencies: Electric and natural gas utilities not jurisdictional to the commission are also required by EISA to examine and consider implementing the six new PURPA standards. If practical and convenient, workshops on certain subjects pertinent to these standards may be jointly held.
Process for Developing New Rule: Agency study; and the commission will ask for initial written comments, and may provide the opportunity for participation in workshop-style sessions as well as opportunities for additional comments.
Interested parties can participate in the decision to adopt the new rule and formulation of the proposed rule before publication. Interested persons may file comments with the executive director and secretary, Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, P.O. Box 47250, 1300 South Evergreen Park Drive S.W., Olympia, WA 98504-7250, phone (360) 664-1174, fax (360) 586-1150, by 5:00 p.m., Friday, April 24, 2009.
WRITTEN COMMENTS: Written comments may be submitted to the Washington utilities and transportation commission (commission) at the address given above and should be filed with the commission no later than April 24, 2009.
Electronic copies: The commission requests that comments be provided in electronic format to enhance public access, for ease of providing comments, to reduce the need for paper copies, and to facilitate quotations from the comments. Comments may be submitted by e-mail to the commission's records center at email@example.com. Please include:
• The docket number of this proceeding (U-090222).
• The commenting party's name.
• The title and date of the comment or comments.
An alternative method for submitting comments may be by mailing/delivering an electronic copy on a 3 1/2 inch, IBM-formatted, high-density disk, in .pdf Adobe Acrobat format or in Word 97 or later. Include all of the information requested above. The commission will post on its web site all comments that are provided in electronic format. The web site is located at www.utc.wa.gov/090222. If you are unable to file your comments electronically or to submit them on a disk, the commission will always accept a paper document.
Opportunity for further comment is anticipated. Information about the schedule and other aspects of the rule making, including comments, will be posted on the commission's web site as it becomes available. If you wish to receive further information on this rule making you may (1) call the commission's records center at (360) 664-1234, (2) e-mail the commission at <firstname.lastname@example.org>, or (3) mail written comments to the address above to the attention of David W. Danner, executive director and secretary. When contacting the commission, please refer to Docket U-090222 to ensure that you are placed on the appropriate service list. Questions may be addressed to Steve Johnson, (360) 664-1346, or e-mail email@example.com.
March 18, 2009
David W. Danner
Executive Director and Secretary