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New Report Calls Upon States to Act, PUC’s to Change to Take Full Advantage of the IRA

by | Oct 13, 2022

The non-partisan think tank Energy Innovation Policy and Technology’s new report confirms what REV has been saying since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act this past August: that state legislators must act decisively to take full advantage of the federal money available under the new law and that there needs to be an increased spotlight on the actions of utility regulatory commissions, like Vermont’s PUC, if we are going to deploy enough renewables to stop climate change.

According to report co-author Mike O’Boyle, “The states — and the electric utilities they regulate — are central actors that will determine how much investment takes place and how much emissions fall as a result of the Inflation Reduction Act.

The report, Implementing the Inflation Reduction Act: A Roadmap for State Electric Policy, has three top line state policy recommendations including:

“(PUCs) have an outsized role implementing IRA incentives because they dramatically reduce the cost of many clean energy technologies. PUCs should prioritize re-examining now-outdated cost assumptions in planning and procurement, enabling competition to drive new investment and retirement, taking a proactive role in community transition, streamlining the clean energy interconnection process, and exercising healthy skepticism on carbon capture technology.”

Among the Report’s recommendations for Public Utility Commission’s are:

  • PUCs can help accelerate the influx of cheap clean electricity by examining and streamlining the transmission interconnection processes by which a new power plant connects and begins providing power to the electricity system. Since the 2000s, interconnection wait times have doubled, and enough clean energy is now in interconnection queues nationwide to quadruple clean energy capacity
  • Re-examine stale cost assumptions in planning and procurement. Under their authority to set just and reasonable rates, PUCs should insist that utilities redo integrated resource plans and resource solicitations, despite the procedural headache.

The report also calls upon state legislators to assert their decision making power to push to take full advantage of the IRA, “State legislators can ensure their constituents benefit from the IRA’s provisions by ensuring their PUC and other agencies proactively plan for the coming energy transition and maximize the dollars coming into their state.”

Included in the specific recommendations the report makes for action by state legislators is, “Increase clean electricity standard ambition”

  • To date, 16 states have legislation committing to 100 percent clean electricity sales by 2050 or sooner, but the IRA provides an opportunity to accelerate these goals without increasing costs. States should pass clean electricity standards that balance affordability, feasibility, and investment opportunity, targeting 80 percent carbon-free electricity by 2030.

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