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PSC Directs Utilities To Issue RFP For Retail Suppliers To Offer Load Shaping Pilots

PSC "Looks Forward" To "Robust" Retail Supplier Participation

June 13, 2019

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Copyright 2010-19
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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The Maryland PSC has adopted a final RFP for retail electric suppliers to propose load shaping pilot programs and directed Baltimore Gas and Electric, Pepco, and Delmarva Power to each issue an RFP (PC44)

"The Commission looks forward to robust supplier participation in response to the RFP," the PSC said

Under the RFP, which is open to licensed retail electric suppliers, the Commission is seeking programs designed to demonstrate the ability to shape residential load profiles using innovative business models.

"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 RFP states

The Commission will direct each utility to execute contracts for up to two pilots per service territory.

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

The Load Shaping Pilot is for residential customers and must be opt-in. Net Energy Metering customers may participate in the pilot and the bid should specify a maximum percentage of the population sample of the pilot who can participate in net metering. The Bidder may enroll pilot customers who receive their electric supply from any source.

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

Each Bid must address four requirements discussed further in the RFP: 1) offer design; 2) pilot enrollment and retention; 3) evaluation, measurement and verification; and 4) consumer protection.

The Bidder should clearly identify the supply rate structure by hour or period (i.e. multi-hour, monthly, seasonal). Every price in the rate structure must be either negative {bill credit), zero (free), or positive (bill charge). Any flat charges or other charges must also be identified. The supplier should also clearly identify any additional offerings related to the rate such as a smart thermostat, appliance monitoring, or any other value-added element of the proposal.

The Bid should include a pilot timeline which conforms with the RFP. The pilot treatment period shall be no shorter than 3 months and no longer than 24 months.

The Bidder should clearly identify and explain any enabling information, or control technology, or other customer support it plans to provide under its pilot to help the customer control their load shape. This includes any element of the offering which helps customers react to price signals, support customer behavior changes, or engage in direct load control.

The Bidder must attest that it can implement the load shaping program that it has offered. If seeking to use Utility Consolidated Billing or other authorized form of supplier billing, this will include the ability to calculate and bill customers using existing EDI capabilities and provide adequate billing information in the existing utility bill format. Utility has AMI data available in hourly increments with a one day delay (as applicable to each Utility). A supplier that is able to operate their proposed pilot program using existing EDI transactions will not incur costs to do so. However, to the extent that the Bidder would like to receive customer usage data in a different format or requires changes or updates to Utility's bill format or EDI system, the Utility's programming and testing costs will be borne by the Bidder. Changes to the EDI system may also need to be considered by the EDI Work Group which may delay implementation.

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 or offerings it would support. Ratepayer support will be provided after the successful completion of the pilot and will not be paid if the supplier fails to recruit sufficient participants, adequately support the EM&V efforts or otherwise compromises what is learned from the pilot offering.

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. Any such fees must be clearly defined and outlined in the bid.

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 ("Staff') and the Maryland Office of the People's Counsel ("OPC"). The Bidder will provide marketing materials for review at least 45 days prior to deploying the materials in Maryland and Utility, Staff and OPC will provide any feedback within 20 days of receipt.

Among other details, a bid must include: 1) a clearly stated hypothesis; 2) goals detailing what the pilot intends to achieve; 3) how and when the pilot concludes; 4) explicit cost estimates; 5) explicit statement of expected outcomes; 6) detailed standards, controls and reference points for program evaluation to allow for comparison to control groups; 7) how the data and conclusions will be reported and shared publicly; 8) a methodology for selecting pilot participants; and 9) a method to account for any program costs and revenues that will be paid by ratepayers.

Bids will be considered using the following criteria:

• Likelihood of Producing Statistically Valid Results (highest weighting in evaluation)

• Costs to Non-Participating Ratepayers (second highest weighting in evaluation)

• Annual Load-Weighted Average Supply Price

• Complaints previously filed against the supplier

• Experience with Rates Similar to Proposal

• Enabling Information or Control Technology

• Compensation to pilot participants (e.g. compensation for surveys, etc.)

• Participant Threshold (minimum / maximum)

• Post-Pilot Rate Offering.

• Bids are due within 45 days of issuance of the RFPs

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