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PUCO Approves Grid Modernization Stipulation Under Which FirstEnergy Ohio EDCs Are To Propose Dynamic Pricing Supply Options For Non-shopping Customers

FirstEnergy Ohio EDCs To Install 700,000 Smart Meters

Settlement Includes Provisions For Retail Supplier Access To AMI Data

July 17, 2019

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Copyright 2010-19
Reporting by Paul Ring •

The following story is brought free of charge to readers by EC Infosystems, the exclusive EDI provider of

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio adopted, without substantive modification relating to retail market issues, a stipulation at the FirstEnergy Ohio EDCs addressing grid modernization that includes, among other things, the installation of 700,000 advanced meters in the EDCs' service territories

The FirstEnergy Ohio EDCs serve about 2 million customers in Ohio.

The adopted stipulation requires the FirstEnergy Ohio EDCs to propose dynamic pricing options for non-shopping customers, as follows.

The adopted stipulation provides that, "Within six months of an Opinion & Order in the current case, and after consultation with the Grid Mod collaborative group, the Companies will propose a time-varying rate offering for non-shopping customers, which will be designed to achieve the energy and capacity savings detailed in the cost-benefit analysis and should leverage enabling devices, e.g. smart thermostats. The Companies will work with suppliers to have data ready for a supplier-offered time-of-use product to customers upon VEE certification of AMI meters."

"Once there are either (a) at least three suppliers offering products utilizing AMI data or (b) at least three different types of time-varying products utilizing AMI data, then the Companies, with Commission approval, will withdraw their SSO time-of-use rate offering. Costs associated with the implementation, administration, or marketing of the Companies’ time-varying rate offering shall be recovered through a bypassable charge upon Commission approval," the stipulation provides

The stipulation further provides that, "Within six months of the Opinion & Order in these consolidated cases, the Companies will meet with the Grid Mod collaborative group and subsequently submit a plan to Staff detailing the time-varying rate options it reasonably believes will be offered to retail customers by CRES [competitive retail electric service] providers. The Companies are not obligated to guarantee that a time-varying rate option will be offered by any CRES."

PUCO denied a protest from a smart thermostat trade group which had sought to include as part of the grid modernization plan a program for utility-offered smart thermostats

"[W]e do not believe a smart thermostat program is necessary for customers to realize the projected benefits associated with Grid Mod I," PUCO said

PUCO noted that the Stipulation establishes a platform for retail suppliers to offer innovative products such as dynamic pricing, making the necessary data and systems available, and allowing customers and competitive suppliers the ability to benefit from AMI and time-varying rates, which PUC noted may incorporate enabling technologies through direct purchase by the consumer or a competitive supplier program.

"We also believe this approach to be consistent with the guidance provided in the Roadmap, in which we specifically noted that behind-the-meter innovation “is more likely to succeed in the competitive marketplace than in a regulated environment," PUCO said

As part of the installation of 700,000 advanced meters, the EDCs will install the necessary supporting communications infrastructure, and a Meter Data Management System (MDMS), and associated systems and process. The AMI deployment will utilize a scalable MDMS, which enables the validation, editing, and estimating (VEE) of meter data for billing purposes, and can be leveraged for future advanced meter deployments.

The adopted stipulation provides that, "To enable customer opportunity to receive products and services which utilize their meter, the Companies will provide a map of where AMI is being deployed with dates of deployment and an AMI tag on the Customer Information List provided to CRES providers."

"The AMI deployment will utilize the necessary and generally accepted standards, e.g. Smart Energy by Zigbee Alliance, to implement a Home Area Network, so that customers can connect qualified devices (e.g. in-home displays, smart programmable thermostats, etc.). The technical eligibility requirements for qualification purposes, including those for security, will be developed through the Grid Mod collaborative group," the stipulation provides

"To enable customer choice and variety of product options, a qualified device will not be limited to devices supplied only by the Companies or an affiliate," the stipulation provides

The adopted stipulation provides for retail supplier data access to AMI data as follows:

"The Companies will implement data access enhancements for customers and competitive retail electric service ('CRES') providers. This should include the necessary upgrades to systems and processes for wholesale market settlements, i.e. calculating and settling individual total hourly energy obligation ('THEO'), peak load contribution ('PLC'), and network service peak load ('NSPL') values for each customer, instead of relying on generic load profiles. The Companies shall exercise best efforts to begin calculating wholesale market settlement statements based upon THEO, PLC, and NSPL as the meters become certified. CRES data transmitted to PJM will be, at a minimum, hourly interval, and data utilized and transmitted to CRES providers will be at the metered level. The THEO, PLC, and NSPL data will be made available to authorized CRES providers, consistent with 4901:1-10-24 of the Ohio Administrative Code, through the pre-enrollment list and electronic data interchange ('EDI') transactions, as applicable. The Companies will also allow CRES providers to access the data through an Application Program Interface (API). The process will permit batched retrieval of data for both prospective and existing customers. Data retrieved through API will include the most current data available. The Grid Mod Collaborative will evaluate for purposes of Grid Mod II the benefits and costs associated with providing data (whether through API, EDI, or another technology such as data streaming) using 15-minute intervals, one minute and sub-second data availability and making VEE certified data available as quickly as possible. There will be no fees charged to customers or suppliers for individual access to or requests for data provided via EDI, customer portal, or supplier portal (including data accessed through API)," the stipulation provides

"Customer access will be provided by a customer portal and a Home Area Network. The Companies will provide the Green Button 'Download My Data' format on their customer portal. The Companies will also provide system-to-system access to authorized third parties through the current standardized format which will allow customer interval data to be automatically accessed. The Grid Mod collaborative will discuss the authorization process for third party access and identify a method to ensure the process is easy for consumers. The Companies will evaluate Green Button 'Connect My Data' through the grid modernization collaborative. Any enhancements to data access will be coordinated with the Data and Modern Grid Workgroup," the stipulation provides

"The Companies will develop a process for CRES providers to provide customer consent in order to access data for prospective customers. When data is requested, the system will immediately or nearly immediately process and return the requested data," the stipulation provides

The adopted stipulation further provides:

i. The Companies will begin using AMI for calculation of individualized PLC after the meter exchange has occurred where the VEE certified AMI data has been read for any qualifying peak events. For peaks utilized in the PLC calculation before the meter exchange has occurred, the current method of using register reads and profiles will be used. Data for purposes of billing and scheduling will be provided via EDI or the standard form used for billing systems by the Companies and suppliers.

ii. VEE certified meters can be used for purposes of settlement of customers receiving net metering service from certified suppliers, so long as it is consistent with the applicable net metering rules.

The stipulation was signed by the FirstEnergy Ohio EDCs, PUCO Staff, Direct Energy Services, LLC and Direct Energy Business, LLC, Interstate Gas Supply, Inc., Industrial Energy Users-Ohio, and the Ohio Energy Group, among other associations

Case No. 16-481-EL-UNC et. al.

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