In response to Senate Bill (SB) 978, the Oregon Public Utility Commission has developed a roadmap for adapting regulation to the changing electric sector. Under the bill the state legislature directed the commission to develop a public process to explore how the existing regulatory system for investor-owned electric utilities is impacted by rapidly changing technology and policy. Any recommendations had to maintain the PUC’s focus on affordable rates, safety, and reliable service. The PUC’s report recommends action in six areas:
1. Climate Change – Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a high priority for the State of Oregon and the PUC’s stakeholders, but the PUC lacks a clear mandate to address emissions except as an economic risk. The PUC recommends that the Legislature take up this regulatory gap.
2. Affordability, Equity, and Environmental Justice – The PUC recommends that the Legislature consider ways to improve equitable access to energy services. The PUC can and will take some steps without legislative action, but some approaches used successfully elsewhere may not be within the PUC’s current authority.
3. Retail Customer Options – The PUC will work to achieve consistent pricing for energy resources such as solar, storage, and demand side measures like energy efficiency to keep pace with rapidly changing technology and supply options.
4. Utility Incentive Alignment – The PUC will launch a performance-based regulation process to align utility incentives with customer objectives and explore areas of utility service where the PUC could provide incentives for innovative approaches to providing electricity service.
5. Regional Market Development – The PUC will participate with other states and agencies to promote the development of a regional market, which would enable efficient wholesale competition and regional resources diversity to lower costs and risks to customers.
6. Participation – The PUC will develop a strategy to enhance public engagement and inclusion in PUC processes.
Re SB 978 Actively Adapting to the Changing Electricity Sector, Sept. 17, 2018 (Oreg.P.U.C.).