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Industry leaders collaborate to launch new regulatory innovation initiative

For media requests, please contact Jordan Nachbar at [email protected].
“Renovate” seeks to enable the evolution of state regulatory processes

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A diverse group of national nonprofit organizations and industry thought leaders announced a new initiative to help evolve state regulatory processes for the power sector to keep pace with the dynamic energy needs of customers and develop more effective ways of working together to identify and deliver new solutions to those needs.

Renovate is convened by the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) and launched in partnership with other leading electric industry and stakeholder groups (see the full list below).

The initiative’s vision is to enable the evolution of state regulatory processes and practices in order to address the scalable deployment of innovative technologies and business operating models that support the transition to a clean and modern energy grid.

To begin Renovate, a task force including commissioners, consumer and environmental advocates, legislators, and leaders from utilities, solution providers and state energy offices alongside initiative partners identified problem statements to guide the initiative’s focus. The problem statements include issues on the steep learning curve for all industry participants, managing system risk and uncertainty, managing increased rate of change and the balancing and cross-coordination of multiple priority sets.

The Renovate initiative will be led by Janet Gail Besser, who recently joined SEPA as a Managing Director. Besser brings nationally recognized expertise and broad industry experience as a regulator, utility executive, developer, consultant, and consumer advocate to the role.

“I am thrilled to be joining SEPA at this pivotal moment in the organization’s focus on regulatory innovation. This groundbreaking initiative will help address the challenges in meeting customer needs and increased expectations for a modern grid enabled by new technologies, while continuing to provide clean, affordable, safe, and reliable electric service,” said Besser.

SEPA, as a non-advocating convening group, seeks through this initiative to unlock a collaborative, transparent and more coordinated, productive path to scale solutions more quickly without sacrificing consumer protections.

“State commissions are focused on balancing the needs of many stakeholders and have constrained resources for developing processes to better understand emerging innovations and issues,” said NARUC President Nick Wagner. “That is why we are pleased, and find it important, to have partnerships such as we have with the Renovate Initiative and its wide range of stakeholders.”

“Through Renovate, we have a great opportunity to come together as an industry to resolve regulatory challenges in order to better serve our customers and the communities we serve,” said Adam Benshoff, executive director of regulatory affairs at the Edison Electric Institute. “The key is finding solutions that keep energy reliable, affordable, secure, and increasingly clean for everyone in a rapidly changing world.”

“We are a partner of the Renovate Initiative because electricity system innovation must be accelerated in order to meet the many states’ policy objectives of bringing cost efficient, resilient and clean energy technologies to scale,” said National Association of State Energy Officials’ senior program director, Rodney Sobin. “We are excited to contribute to this important effort with our partners.”

“The electricity system is rapidly changing, and states must advance forward-looking policies to achieve the public benefits,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “States can lead with policies to accelerate renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies that are good for consumers, good for economic development, and good for the environment.”

“As policymakers consider proposals that will continue to reshape the electric utility industry, promoting candid and thoughtful discussions will be vital to protecting the interests of energy consumers during the transition,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. “Electric co-ops look forward to bringing our community and consumer-first focus to this dialogue.”

“Our nation’s clean energy transition will go faster and more smoothly if we can change how utilities are regulated, so that rather than relying so heavily on trial-type procedures, final decisions reflect more flexible and collaborative approaches,” said Ralph Cavanagh, Energy co-director of the Climate and Clean Energy Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Otherwise costs and delays will remain excessive, and public involvement will suffer.”

“Governors are leading on energy innovation and deploying new technologies that can help lower costs and improve outcomes,” said Scott D. Pattison, CEO and executive director of the National Governors Association. “This initiative will help support governors’ goals by improving regulatory processes through better information, coordination and market development.”

“Successfully shaping and accelerating the evolution of the energy system to best meet the needs of customers—while driving improved environmental performance, strengthening resilience, and keeping user costs stable—requires close collaboration and a spirit of innovation, partnership, and shared mission,” Leia Guccione, a principal at Rocky Mountain Institute, said. “Renovate is an important effort to reflect on the innovations that can make current regulatory processes more ambitious and collaborative while building and supporting the coalition of leaders we will need to implement and engage in these new evolved regulatory processes. We look forward to sharing the insights we’ve discovered and contributing to the success of this important endeavor.”

Working with a task force of stakeholder representatives and partners, the next phase of the initiative entails identifying a set of solutions to designated problem statements, and identifying, assessing and bench marking existing regulatory innovations—both domestically and globally—which will include the development and publication of key illustrative case studies.

For more information on the Renovate Initiative and to view the full list of partners and task force members, click here.


Renovate Partner Organizations:

American Public Power Association (APPA)

Edison Electric Institute (EEI)

Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC)

National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissions (NARUC)

National Association of State Energy Offices (NASEO)

National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)

National Governors Association (NGA)

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)  

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)

Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP)

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)

Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA)


About American Public Power Association (APPA)

APPA is the voice of not-for-profit, community-owned utilities that power 2,000 towns and cities nationwide. The Association advocates and advises on electricity policy, technology, trends, training, and operations.

About Edison Electric Institute (EEI)
EEI is the association that represents all U.S. investor-owned electric companies. Their members provide electricity for about 220 million Americans, and operate in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. EEI provides public policy leadership, strategic business intelligence, and essential conferences and forums.

About Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC)
ELPC is the Midwest’s leading public interest environmental legal advocacy and eco-business innovation organization, and among the nation’s leaders. The organization develops and leads successful strategic advocacy campaigns to improve environmental quality and protect our natural resources.

About National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC)

NARUC is a non-profit organization dedicated to representing the state public service commissions who regulate the utilities that provide essential services such as energy, telecommunications, power, water, and transportation.

About National Association of State Energy Offices (NASEO)

NASEO is the only national non-profit association for the governor-designated energy officials from each of the 56 states and territories. Formed by the states in 1986, NASEO facilitates peer learning among state energy officials, serves as a resource for and about state energy offices, and advocates the interests of the state energy offices to Congress and federal agencies.

About National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)
NCSL is a bipartisan non-governmental organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.

About Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
NRDC is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, NRDC’s lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment.

About National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)
NRECA is the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives, public power districts, and public utility districts in the United States. The organization oversees cooperative employee benefits plans; carries out federal government relations activities like lobbying; conducts management and director training; and spearheads communications, advocacy, and public relations initiatives.

About National Governors Association (NGA)

Founded in 1908, NGA is the nonpartisan organization of the nation’s 55 governors. Through NGA, governors share best practices, address issues of national and state interest and share innovative solutions that improve state government and support the principles of federalism.

About Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP)
RAP is an independent, non-partisan, non-governmental organization dedicated to accelerating the transition to a clean, reliable, and efficient energy future. The organization helps energy and air quality regulators and NGOs navigate the complexities of power sector policy, regulation, and markets and develop innovative and practical solutions designed to meet local conditions.

About Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)
Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)—an independent nonprofit founded in 1982—transforms global energy use to create a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future. It engages businesses, communities, institutions, and entrepreneurs to accelerate the adoption of market-based solutions that cost-effectively shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. RMI has offices in Basalt and Boulder, Colorado; New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Beijing.

About SEPA

The Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) is an educational nonprofit working to facilitate the electric power industry’s smart transition to a clean and modern energy future through education, research, standards and collaboration. SEPA offers a range of research initiatives and resources, as well as conferences, educational events, advisory services, and professional networking opportunities. SEPA is founder and co-sponsor of North American Smart Energy Week (a trade show which includes Solar Power International and Energy Storage International among other smart energy topics) and winner of the Keystone Policy Center’s 2016 Leadership in Energy Award.