Infrastructure, Cyber, Equity Underscore NARUC Winter Policy Summit
Meeting Attendance Close to Pre-Pandemic Level
WASHINGTON — After a two-year hiatus, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners convened its 2022 Winter Policy Summit at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C. February 13-16. The event boasted roughly 1,400 registered attendees comprised of state and federal utility regulators, industry members, consumer groups and press, with less than 300 attending virtually. The Federal-State Joint Task Force on Electric Transmission convened its second meeting at the conclusion of NARUC’s meeting on February 16.
Although meetings were held on Sunday, the summit got into full gear on Monday, with a welcome from District of Columbia PSC Acting Chairman Emile Thompson. President Judith Williams Jagdmann presided over a session with National Cyber Director Chris Inglis, Office of the National Cyber Director/Executive Office of the President; Deputy Secretary David Turk, U.S. Department of Energy; and Berkshire Hathaway Energy President/CEO, Bill Fehrman.
Before the pandemic, the winter meeting would see attendance numbers in the 1,500-1,600 range. In her opening comments, Jagdmann said that the attendance numbers represent a “positive affirmation” of the Association’s efforts on behalf of members and stakeholders.
The general session on Tuesday morning covered the DOE’s Earthshots Initiative, featuring overviews from DOE officials Emily Grubert, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Carbon Management, Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management; Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael Pesin, Advanced Grid Research & Development; and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Kelly Speakes-Backman, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which was facilitated by Commissioner Ann Rendahl of the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission.
A much-anticipated panel on Tuesday afternoon that highlighted implications for states of the federal infrastructure bill was kicked off with remarks from Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and questions posed by Jagdmann and North Dakota Commissioner Julie Fedorchak. During her remarks, Granholm stated that the $62 billion dollars allocated to upgrade the power grid represents the “biggest influx of funding in DOE’s history, allowing the agency to provide diverse and cheaper sources of energy that are more reliable.” She also emphasized the important role of state regulators “during this critical moment for history” in making decisions “that put people first.”
Panelists drilled down with more specifics on state implementation with Fedorchak for the balance of the discussion. National Telecommunications and Information Administration Associate Administrator Doug Kinkoph; American Clean Power Association CEO Heather Zichal and California Water Service President and CEO Marty Kropelnicki addressed the funding amounts, resources and processes in place for states, for which $100 million per state has been earmarked.
Task Force Agenda
In conjunction with NARUC’s Winter Policy Summit, the Task Force meeting was co-located at the Washington Renaissance Hotel on February 16, 2022. To view the agenda and access the recording, see https://www.ferc.gov/TFSOET. With the departure of Task Force member Christine Raper from the Idaho PUC, Chairman Thad LeVar from the Utah Public Service Commission has filled that second seat for Western region representation.
Resolutions and Recognitions
At the conclusion of the summit, the NARUC Board of Directors approved a set of substantive and honorary resolutions.
- Resolution Encouraging State and Federal Policymakers to Seek Guidance
from State Regulators to Design Markets that Will Achieve Reduction of Greenhouse
Gas Emissions at Least Cost
- Resolution on Ensuring that Federal and State Entities Collaborate, Share Data, and Track Progress on Closing the Digital Divide Utilizing Various Federal Programs including the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021
- Resolution on Water Equity
Several honorary resolutions were passed that reflect the contributions of previous and current members and staff. The honorees include NARUC immediate past president Paul Kjellander and former commissioner Kristine Raper, both formerly of the Idaho PUC; Pennsylvania PUC Chair Gladys Brown Dutrieuille; FERC Commissioner Willie Phillips (former chair of the District of Columbia PSC); National Regulatory Research Institute Principal Researcher Tom Stanton; Brooks F. McCabe Jr. (former commissioner at the PSC of West Virginia); and Labros Evaggelos Pilalis (formerly of the Pennsylvania PUC).
These resolutions are on NARUC’s website at https://bit.ly/NARUC2022WPSResolutions.
Ray Baum and Mary Kilmarx Awards
Angel Stenmark, director of telecommunications at the Mississippi Public Utilities Staff, Mississippi PSC, received the Ray Baum Memorial Leadership Award during the opening general session of the Winter Policy Summit. The award is given to a member of the NARUC Staff Subcommittee on Telecommunications who best reflects Ray’s initiative and drive toward public service. The annual NARUC award honors the memory of Ray Baum, who passed away in 2018, and was a long-time member of NARUC, later a respected staffer on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and a nationally recognized expert on utility law.
Stanton was named as the recipient of this year’s Mary Kilmarx Award. Since a NARUC resolution passed July 31, 2002, the Committee on Energy Resources and the Environment has recognized individuals who have gone above and beyond in the name of good governance, clean energy and the environment. The award is in memory of Mary Kilmarx, who passed away in 2002 and had been a commissioner and long-time staff member of the Rhode Island PUC and was a three-term representative in the Rhode Island legislature. Those who remember Mary remember a fun, positive, feisty woman. Learn more about the award and previous winners at https://bit.ly/NARUCKilmarx.
NARUC is a non-profit organization founded in 1889 whose members include the governmental agencies that are engaged in the regulation of utilities and carriers in the fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. NARUC’s member agencies regulate telecommunications, energy, and water utilities. NARUC represents the interests of state public utility commissions before the three branches of the federal government.