The SPEER Commission on Texas Energy Efficiency Policy was established in 2014, to create a shared vision for the future of efficiency in the Lone Star State. Through consensus, they developed detailed recommendations to move efficiency forward and strengthen the state’s economy which are included in the 2014 SPEER Commission Final Report. The Commission includes former regulators and legislators, and representatives of electric companies, non-profits, manufacturers, academic institutions, and more.
SPEER is now hosting a new round of dialogues to consider the role of the electric utility in Texas in the future. Will Wynn, former mayor of Austin, and Margaret Keliher, former county Judge of Dallas County, will again co-chair the forum in its second round of meetings. SPEER has released a white paper, Win-Win Utility Regulation, which was provided to SPEER Commission members as a thought piece to stimulate debate at its December 2016 Meeting. The SPEER Commission will also be joined that day by Laurence Kirsch, of Christensen Associates, the primary author of a report commissioned by the Public Utilities Commission of Texas: Alternative Ratemaking Mechanisms.
How investor-owned electric utilities are allowed to recover their investments, and expenses, or make a profit, is purely dependent upon a constructed policy framework. Under the current framework, or regulatory process, utilities are allowed to earn a profit through a rate of return on their investments, driving them to focus on building capital assets. With the explosion of the “Internet of Things”, including smart thermostats, and the adoption of on-site generation by consumers, utilities are considering alternatives to current rate mechanisms.
The SPEER white paper suggests that utilities could be rewarded with higher profits for reducing overall costs and rates, instead focusing on increasing utilization of the existing assets, and leveraging, instead of fearing, the new technologies springing up in their footprint.
2014 SPEER Commission on Texas Energy Efficiency Policy Final Report