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Energy and Environment

TechNet supports policies that are technology-neutral and that foster and promote a climate for innovation in clean energy supply and demand.  This allows companies to create, thrive, and compete in the United States and around the globe.

TechNet’s state program supports the following principles:

  • A robust energy agenda that will spur the development and the deployment of clean energy resources, such as fuel cells, energy efficiency, solar, energy storage, wind, linear generators, demand response, advanced clean combustion, retail and utility scale clean energy projects, and clean transportation. 
  • The implementation of grid modernization policies that support customer adoption of clean energy technologies, as well as recognize the role these technologies can play in addressing customer and grid needs.
  • The implementation of competitive energy supply markets at the wholesale and retail levels to leverage the power of markets to provide benefit and choice to consumers and drive the efficiency and innovation of energy services.
  • Forward-looking policies that ensure open access and enable market-based deployment of distributed energy resources to meet the environmental and reliability challenges of the electric system.
  • Policies that further the use of advanced technologies in both wholesale and retail energy markets.
  • Policy for clean energy solutions that are technology-neutral to address energy demand on the state, regional, and national levels.
  • Empowering consumers and developers with access to the data necessary to enable them to effectively deploy and utilize clean energy solutions.
  • Tax policy that provides clean energy technologies with a stable tax environment that appropriately supports the unique financing needs of clean energy technologies.

Demand Response (DR)

TechNet’s members include “clean tech” companies that offer demand response products and companies that are energy customers who utilize demand response programs as part of their energy portfolio or that have to meet DR requirements due to state regulations or as part of their own internal environmental stewardship programs. 

TechNet will support policies related to electric demand management, including but not limited to peak demand reduction standards and incentive programs; and demand response requirements for energy consumers that educate the consumer, better manage energy loads, and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the energy supply chain. 

Distributed Energy Resources (DER)

DER is also referred to as distributed generation (DG), distributed energy, on-site generation, energy efficiency, distributed renewables, behind-the-meter resources, energy storage, and load control/management. 

Distributed energy resources must be a key component of a state’s clean energy portfolio and grid modernization efforts.  As manufacturers and developers, TechNet members need to be aware of any regulation or legislation requiring, incentivizing, or restricting distributed energy resources.  As with demand response, this is of interest to both TechNet’s “clean tech” companies who offer DER products and services and to those customers who have invested in DG onsite and utilize DERs as part of their energy consumption and management portfolio. 

Distributed energy resources and energy management tools can help meet onsite customer energy needs and provide wholesale, grid-facing services, either individually or in aggregate.  DERs, deployed effectively, can reduce utility, ratepayer, and customer costs; improve service reliability and safety; and enhance grid resiliency while achieving climate, clean energy, and environmental goals.  Monitoring here should include all types of DERs, such as fuel cells; energy storage; linear generators; combined heat and power (CHP); energy efficiency; demand response; and advanced energy management technologies, including smart thermostats and intelligent appliances that interconnect or are deployed at the distribution level or behind the customer side of the meter.

TechNet will support legislation, regulations, and executive actions that encourage and support the use and expansion of distributed energy resources as part of the overall energy supply and minimize or eliminate barriers and costs to interconnect DERs to the grid.

Energy Efficiency Standards 

Energy efficiency standards are minimum standards a state might adopt requiring appliances, consumer electronics, lighting, or heating and cooling systems to meet a certain energy or resource conservation rating.  These standards can encompass all changes that result in decreasing the amount of energy used to produce one unit of economic activity (e.g. the energy used per unit of GDP or value added) or to meet the energy requirements for a given level of comfort. 

Energy efficiency standards may change the way products are built, impacting design, functionality, and manufacturing.  Therefore, these standards can be expensive to comply with and the products may be difficult to produce with the new and required technology.

Energy efficiency is associated with economic efficiency and includes technological, behavioral, and economic changes.  TechNet is specifically interested in legislation that includes computers, hardware, networking equipment, and standards impacting electronic products and/or services.  TechNet will advocate for any state adopting regulations or passing laws in this area to use the most recent data available to set energy efficiency standards as it is more costly and problematic for TechNet members to meet energy efficiency requirements when based on outdated energy consumption data and the performance of now obsolete products (e.g., tube TVs, old PCs with towers).  Generally, TechNet will not oppose energy efficiency standards but will work to make sure they are properly focused, attainable, technology-neutral, and based on international standards.

Clean Energy Standards, Renewable Portfolio Standards, and Renewable Fuel Standards

Clean Energy Standards (CES), Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), and Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) are requirements or incentives to ensure that energy marketers and producers have a certain percentage of “clean energy” in their mix.  There are obligated parties when it comes to clean energy standards, and it is critical that we understand when there is a change in law related to these standards.

TechNet is interested in the trend of states setting clean energy portfolio and renewable fuel standards for customers and market participants.  In addition, some TechNet members offer products/services to help customers, energy companies, and states achieve the RPS, CES, and EPA RFS mandates.

Along with appropriate advocacy for CES, RPS, and RFS standards is the evolving notion of open access to customer and provider data.  An open-data program for integrating data from different sources is important, since the data being received is data from a wide variety of sources, including power meters, thermometers, carbon-dioxide sensors, air-conditioning equipment, and meteorological sensors.  Being able to pool the data potentially will allow states to leverage all the value being derived from all resources to maximize efficiency for better, more reliable, and lower cost procurement.  Models and tools can be developed or supported to assess, analyze, and optimize renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies for any project.  Many of these tools can be applied on a global, regional, local, or project basis.

TechNet supports CES, RPS, and RFS goals in conjunction with open access to both grid and consumption data.  We will advocate accordingly, as well as ensure that the approach is practical, technology-neutral, and compatible with member companies’ procurement goals, the evolution of renewable development, and the innovation of sustainable market solutions.

Grid Modernization

Grid modernization is using communications and modern computing to upgrade the current electric power grid so that it can operate more efficiently and reliably and support additional services to consumers.  Such an upgrade is equivalent to bringing the power of the Internet to the transmission, distribution, and use of electricity.  Modernization makes a grid into a platform on which an ecosystem of demand response resources, distributed energy resources, energy efficiency innovations, and market-based solutions can thrive, delivering more value and savings to consumers and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.  Additionally, grid modernization should be supported with integrated system planning, at both the distribution and transmission levels, to ensure that the energy system can continue to support customer adoption of clean energy technologies, as well as ensure that these resources are being fully utilized to address grid needs.  Transitioning to an integrated system planning process will require greater data transparency regarding planned investments and system constraints driving those investments, as well as changes in how the utilities identify and pursue solutions to address those constraints to ensure they are considering the so-called “non-wires alternative” in lieu of more conventional investments they would otherwise rely upon. 

TechNet will monitor and advocate for legislation that changes existing law or adopts new laws regarding grid management policies or incentives, as well as seek to reform utility planning processes to take a more integrated approach.  TechNet will monitor and engage as necessary on legislation and regulatory activity that would influence grid-related activities, smart meters, and the use of this technology – especially those activities related to the use and/or integration of advanced technology as a means of enhancing energy efficiency and grid management modernization.

Retail Energy Competition

Retail energy competition is when a state authorizes, typically through legislation, energy (electricity and/or gas) purchases from a supplier outside of the monopoly utility provider.  Utilities and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) are generally opposed to this market advancement.  The typical proponents are energy service providers, end-use customers (including TechNet members), and clean tech companies. 

TechNet believes that competition allows for and encourages innovation.  As it relates to retail energy markets, allowing customers the flexibility to procure power and gas from a source other than the monopoly utility allows the customer to incorporate clean technology and renewable power, and to tailor energy to the needs and procurement for their facilities and organization.  Typically, energy costs are among the top three highest expenses for businesses.  Controlling these costs is critically important. 

TechNet will support policies that encourage retail energy competition and advocate for an even playing field for all suppliers, including the incumbent investor-owned utilities, and will oppose any additional requirements imposed on suppliers and customers as prerequisites to participate in competitive energy markets.

Grid and Customer Data Access and Transparency

In the energy space, customer data is the foundational element of every business that directly touches customers and a number of businesses that operate more at the wholesale level.  The entity that controls customer data has a huge impact on the success or failure of those businesses.  In the traditional utility model, the entity that owns the metering infrastructure (which, for all relevant U.S. jurisdictions, is the utility) is the de facto owner of the data.  Even customers, who may technically be considered (by law or regulation) the beneficial owner of the data, must get their data from the utility, which typically has the right to retain the data and use it for many purposes. 

In the developing world of advanced and distributed energy resources, this model seriously limits the value that customers can derive from the market.  In order to receive tailored and customer specific benefits, the customer must give a potential supplier his or her consent to release data from the utility.  That consent is passed on from the supplier to the utility, which then releases the data to the supplier.  This takes time and limits the customer’s ability to know, in advance, what options might be available that would bring value to them based on their own consumption patterns.  A third party supplier’s ability to offer (and bill) advanced products and services will also be limited by the quality of the data that is passed from the utility to the third party.  There can be a material difference in data quality between what the utility sends to a third party and what the utility actually gathers at the meter level, and/or sends to the system operator for settlement purposes.  At the same time, as customer adoption of DERs increases, distribution system planning and operations will require additional data and information for grid operators and DER providers.  Therefore, in order to realize the promise of a modernized grid, the underlying data associated with the grid must be made available to a wide group of industry stakeholders and market participants.

TechNet will advocate for expanding the boundaries of customer choice and will encourage legislators and regulators to consider several possible changes to their current system.  These changes all address the need to expand the access by energy providers and customers to the essential data on both the customer and grid side without being subject to unnecessary restrictions placed on the availability and quality of data provided through traditional utilities.

Electrification of Transportation 

Electrification of transportation includes electric vehicles (EV), electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), and charging stations.

The majority of TechNet members have installed equipment of their choice at their own workplaces using their own funds.  Businesses currently have the ability to choose the technology and price of service to the driver and to manage the load at the stations for their own sites.  This customer choice is important to the experience of member companies’ employees.  If utilities are given full monopoly control over charging stations, this customer choice will be threatened and competition in the market may cease.

Charging stations are being installed around the country at businesses, retailers, public lots, and in residences to fuel electric vehicles.  Though the industry is growing in line with rising EV sales, electric utilities are now considering ways to boost charging station deployments and accelerate fueling switching.  Some utilities have proposed rate-basing and owning and operating charging stations, which threatens competition and innovation in the charging station industry.  Other utilities have proposed a more limited approach, focusing instead on rate-basing the “make ready” which is the infrastructure needed to install a charging station, up to but not including the station itself.

TechNet will respond to utility applications at the relevant public utility commissions, where investor-owned utilities are seeking to rate-base charging infrastructure, and will support proposals that protect customer choice, competition, and innovation.  Moreover, TechNet will advocate for the support and maintenance of customer control and choice where technology-neutral positions are affirmed and competition is upheld.

Clean Energy Supply

TechNet members are financing, building, and innovating on clean energy projects.  These projects are needed to meet growing demand and help deliver economies of scale to the energy markets.  Additionally, these projects help spur economic development in many communities.  Many states have incentives and streamlined permitting processes to facilitate the development of these projects.  However, some states have created artificial barriers through legislative and regulatory changes that have chilled investment.  TechNet will advocate for a policy environment that advances efforts to bring more clean energy projects online more quickly. 

Microgrids

Microgrids, which are localized grids that can disconnect from the traditional grid to operate autonomously and help mitigate grid disturbances to strengthen grid resilience, can play an important role in transforming the nation’s electric grid.  Microgrids can strengthen grid resilience and help mitigate grid disturbances because they are able to continue operating while the main grid is down.  In addition, they can function as a grid resource for faster system response and recovery.

Microgrids also support a flexible and efficient electric grid by enabling the integration of growing deployments of renewable sources of energy, such as solar and wind, and distributed energy resources, such as combined heat and power, energy storage, and demand response.  In addition, the use of local sources of energy to serve local power loads helps reduce energy losses in transmission and distribution, which further increases the efficiency of the electricity delivery system.

TechNet members are financing, building, and innovating in the area of microgrids, and TechNet will advocate for policies and programs that encourage microgrid development. 

Demand Charges

Today, many utilities assess demand charges to some commercial and industrial customers, and some are proposing mandatory demand charges for residential or distributed generation customers.  This is a concern for DER providers because demand charges can reduce the price signal for residential customers to adopt these technologies, and can make a customer’s bill much more complex because of the charges’ many facets and various ways they can be applied.

TechNet will advocate for preserving customer choice and the option to utilize and invest in the variety of available advanced energy technologies from both the residential and commercial customer perspective for DERs, including EV charging, in the rate design discussion.  Rather than making demand charges mandatory for residential customers, TechNet will support utilities exploring optional rates and pilot programs that send clearer signals about system costs that enable technology innovation.  On the commercial side, TechNet will recommend removing ratchets from demand charges.  Specific to EV charging, TechNet will advocate for considering alternate options for demand charges to respond to higher speed technology being deployed.

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