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PSC Invites Retail Suppliers To Propose Load Shaping Pilot Programs, Issues Draft RFP That Would Select Suppliers

March 20, 2019

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Copyright 2010-19
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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The Maryland PSC has invited retail electric suppliers to participate in a "load shaping" pilot and invited comments on a draft RFP to select retail suppliers for the pilot, under PC 44

Under the proposed RFP, "The Commission is seeking programs designed to demonstrate the ability to shape residential load profiles using innovative business models."

"The Commission is committed to encouraging retail suppliers to participate in the PC44 Initiatives. Over the course of the PC44 process, the Commission has identified additional spaces where retail competition could benefit Maryland ratepayers, including load shaping, peak shaving, and energy efficiency," the PSC said

"The primary goal of this RFP is to identify pilots that demonstrate an ability to shape customer load profiles through load shifting, peak shaving, and energy efficiency. Applicants can propose any mechanism for load shaping such as sending appropriate price signals (real time rates), using technology to control usage (controllable thermostats), payment of rebates or behavioral modification treatments. A secondary goal is to test whether load shaping can lower customer bills or reduce the customers’ overall effective rate for electricity by avoiding energy usage during high cost periods. Customer satisfaction will be surveyed at the pilot’s conclusion," the draft states

Potential elements include time-varying rates and/or credits (rebates), and technologies or other elements which help customers react to price signals, support customer behavior changes, or engage in direct load control (smart thermostat, appliance monitoring, etc.)

The draft states that, "Ratepayer funds may be available to support the costs for the supplier to comply with the EM&V needs of the pilot. If Bidder is seeking ratepayer funds to support its participation in the pilot, any funding should be clearly identified in the proposal including the services it would support. Bidder must also specify the level of funding it is seeking either as a total amount or as an hourly rate with an estimated number of hours. Bidder must provide this request on a 'not to exceed' basis."

"Bidder may be able to access ratepayer funding through existing utility efficiency or demand response programs. This support would be available only for approved efficiency measures under the existing EmPOWER plans or participation in existing approved demand response programs. The Pilot Overview should clearly identify the eligible efficiency measure or demand response program, the estimated number of measures or participating customers and the total estimated cost of incentives or rebates to be recovered from the Utility program," the draft states

The Bidder shall be responsible for any market research, developing marketing and enrollment material, customer recruitment and enrollment, and tracking participants throughout the entirety of the pilot. After selection, the selected supplier’s marketing materials for the pilot are subject to review by the Utility, Staff of the Public Service Commission, and the Maryland Office of the People’s Counsel (OPC)

Enrollments into a supplier's pilot will be on an opt-in basis

Furthermore, "Before a customer enrolls in the pilot, the Bidder must provide the customer with a complete copy of the supply contract and reasonable time to review the document before requesting or acquiring the customer’s consent to the supply contract and pilot participation. A customer’s consent must be evidenced by a signature on the supply contract document," the draft states

The Bidder may retain customers at the completion of the pilot under the same terms and conditions as the pilot pursuant to a renewal notice under COMAR, the draft provides

"The Bidder may not charge a fee for a customer that exits the pilot and must allow the customer to exit at any time. However, a reasonable fee to recover the costs of technology or equipment provided to the customer under the pilot may be allowed," the draft states

Under the proposed process, after review and comment on the RFP results, the Commission will recommend award of contracts to retail suppliers that will participate in the Load Shaping Pilot. The Commission will direct utilities to execute the contracts for up to two pilots per service territory.

Each retail supplier may submit up to two bids per service territory for this pilot.

A supplier shall identify a minimum and maximum initially targeted participant threshold they commit to enrolling. The minimum target number shall be no less than 1,000. The maximum number of participants may be no greater than 5,000.

The pilot program is only for the supply portion of the customer’s utility bill, "and must complementary to existing distribution offerings under the Utility’s current tariffs," the draft states

The RFP submissions will be evaluated based on:

     1. Likelihood of Producing Statistically Valid Results

     2. Costs to Non-Participating Ratepayers

     3. Annual Load-Weighted Average Supply Price

     4. Complaints against the supplier

     5. Experience with Rates Similar to Proposal.

     6. Enabling Information or Control Technology

     7. Pilot Compensation to Participants (enrollment, survey incentives, etc.)

     8. Participant Threshold

     9. Post-Pilot Rate Offering: The Bidder shall identify what rate offering (although not necessarily the precise pricing) a participant will be offered at the end of the pilot

"As Maryland moves forward with grid modernization, the retail supply community can play an important role in supporting policy goals, including more active efforts to shape load profiles. Accordingly, the Commission has developed a PC44 Retail Supplier Load Shaping Pilot Request for Proposal ('RFP') Statement of Work ('Statement of Work'). Prior to directing the utility companies (i.e., Baltimore Gas and Electric Company, Potomac Electric Power Company, and Delmarva Power & Light Company) to issue a Retail Supplier Load Shaping Pilot RFP that includes this Statement of Work, the Commission seeks comments on the Statement of Work," the PSC said


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