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March 23, 2020
INDUSTRY COVID-19 UPDATES

California

CAISO has taken the following steps to protect power system operations:

    • Extended its ban on in-person meetings through May 1, 2020, or until further notice;
    • Plans to host meetings via teleconference and webinars where possible; and
    • Suspended all non-essential business travel for its employees. Critical staff essential to CAISO’s core services, such as grid operators, continue to work in the control centers.

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Connecticut

PURA sent a notice to all suppliers saying, "[W]e’re appealing to all third-party electric suppliers active in Connecticut to suspend their door-to-door solicitations during the COVID-19 crisis," said Marissa P. Gillett, PURA chairman. "PURA will immediately begin monitoring the suppliers’ voluntary compliance with our request, while also continuing to investigate legal remedies to enforce the door-to-door solicitation suspension and any other measures necessary to address these unprecedented circumstances."

"For the duration of the Public Health and Civil Preparedness Emergency declared by Governor Lamont on March 10, 2020, PURA expects that the third-party electric suppliers will take immediate action to halt all door-to-door sales and to adopt any other necessary precautions to keep both their employees and the public safe," PURA said.

In a notice to suppliers, PURA said, "Due to the current public health crisis, the Authority is requesting that electric suppliers cease door-to-door marketing until further instruction by the Authority. The Authority will monitor suppliers’ compliance and will take appropriate action against suppliers found continuing door-to-door marketing. Suppliers found to be conducting illegal telephonic marketing to take advantage of this unfortunate situation will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of PURA’s authority," PURA said.

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Delaware

Please be advised that under Governor Carney’s Declaration of a State of Emergency, the Delaware Public Service Commission is authorized to hold all public meetings by means of telephone conference call. Therefore, until such time that the State of Emergency is lifted, all public meetings will be conducted solely by teleconference. Members of the public are permitted to participate in meetings via telephone, and all public agendas will include the participation telephone number.

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District of Columbia

The Public Service Commission has activated its Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP). The Commission offices at 1325 G Street N.W. are closed, however, the Commission is still open for business; personnel are working remotely.

Information regarding the status of meetings will be posted on the website at dcpsc.org. The Office of Consumer Services can be contacted at 626-5120; no walk-in meetings, filings or deliveries can be accepted at this time. If you have a question regarding e-Docket, including questions pertaining to Assessments, please send an email to psc-commissionsecretary@dc.gov.

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Electric Reliability Council of Texas (“ERCOT”)

ERCOT extended its ban on in-person meetings and non-essential business travel to May 3, 2020. It had previously set the procedures through March 15, and then quickly extended that to March 31. The ERCOT board of directors will conduct its April 14 meeting via webinar to consider any matters that cannot be deferred to its next regularly scheduled meeting in June.

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Midcontinent Independent System Operator (“MISO”)

MISO has taken the following steps to protect power system operations:

    • converted all stakeholder meetings through March 20, 2020, to conference call or webex only;
    • suspended all non-essential business travel;
    • restricted access to its control rooms; and
    • allowed employees to work from home where possible. MISO will continue to monitor the situation to reduce avoidable risk to its operations.

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Illinois

Illinois Commerce Commission: The Illinois Commerce Commission adopted an emergency order imposing a moratorium on In-person solicitations by Retail Energy Suppliers and adopted a formal disconnection moratorium. The Illinois Commerce Commission is continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation to protect and support ICC operations, employees, and stakeholders. Due to the critical work we do for the citizens of Illinois, we remain open, but have modified our operations with the majority of staff working remotely. View the press release "ICC Continue Essential Operations, Impose Limitations to Protect Public and Employees from COVID-19" (PDF Download).

View up to date information on how the Illinois Commerce Commission is handling the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Illinois Power Agency: On Friday, March 20, 2020, the Illinois Power Agency (IPA) announced, “In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois Power Agency is making certain changes to its operations, program requirements, planned events, and other activities.” These changes are outlined below.

While the Agency’s offices are closed indefinitely during the COVID-19 pandemic, Agency staff is working remotely. Nevertheless, as Agency staff may have limited access to resources and divided attention, please be prepared for delays in responses. Should you need to communicate with a staff member, the IPA encourages email communication.

The Adjustable Block Program (“ABP”) and Illinois Solar for All Program (“ILSFA”) exist, first and foremost, for the benefit of the Illinois residents and businesses. Following the Illinois Commerce Commission’s March 18, 2020 Emergency Order in Docket No. 20-0310 establishing a moratorium on in-person solicitations of Illinois customers by Alternative Retail Electric Suppliers, the IPA believes similar changes to the consumer protection requirements of the ABP and ILSFA programs are warranted.

Thus, in light of the public health emergency posed by the COVID-19 virus, and consistent with the Illinois Commerce Commission’s determination in Docket No. 19-0995 that the IPA may revise Approved Vendor requirements with an immediate effective date on an emergency basis, all versions of the Adjustable Block Program Marketing Guidelines and Illinois Solar for All Consumer Protection Guidelines are hereby immediately amended to add the following requirement:

“In-person marketing and solicitation: Given the public health emergency posed by the COVID-19 virus, in-person marketing or solicitation of photovoltaic system sales, installations, or financing; in-person marketing or solicitation of community solar subscriptions; or similar in-person solar marketing or solicitation activity are prohibited.”

While the IPA lacks plenary regulatory authority over solar solicitation activity in Illinois, entities found to have violated this program requirement may be subject to suspension from participation in the Adjustable Block Program and the Illinois Solar for All Program, and would thus be ineligible to receive or participate in projects benefitting from REC delivery contracts under those programs.

REC Delivery Contract Deadlines and Performance: ABP and ILSFA REC delivery contracts contain several provisions for requesting extensions of system energization dates. Additionally, these contracts contain as force majeure provisions which allow for the suspension of obligations due to certain events outside of the reasonable expectation or control of the performing party which materially adversely affect the ability of that party to perform its contractual obligations. To invoke these provisions, please refer to the process outlined in individual REC delivery contracts. However, please understand that the IPA will not be providing interpretive determinations in advance of those processes being invoked, and the IPA is not the actual contractual counterparty in any ABP REC delivery contracts (and is the contractual counterparty only for select ILSFA contracts).

As the length and severity of disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic become clearer, the Illinois Power Agency may seek feedback on additional steps that can be taken to accommodate unforeseen barriers and delays.

Photovoltaic System Inspections: Under both the Adjustable Block Program and the Illinois Solar for All Program, select photovoltaic projects receiving REC delivery contracts may be subject to on-site inspections. Multiple rounds of system inspections have already been completed under the Adjustable Block Program.

To avoid unnecessary person-to-person contact, the IPA is suspending all ABP and ILSFA project inspection activity until further notice. At this time, the IPA does not intend to reduce the overall number of planned inspections, and the Agency hopes to resume inspections quickly after circumstances allow. In the interim, the Agency’s Program Administrators may request additional photographic documentation of installations on an as needed basis.

Upcoming workshops: Stemming principally from the IPA’s Revised Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan and the Illinois Commerce Commission’s Final Order in Docket No. 19-0995, the IPA was planning a series of in-person workshops starting in mid-April. Topics to be addressed included feedback on changes to the REC delivery contracts used for IPA programs and competitive procurements; project diversity criteria for additional community solar project selections; and potential changes to ABP and ILSFA REC prices based on Illinois market feedback and results.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding need for social distancing, the IPA will not be holding in-person workshops. Instead, the Agency plans to issue a series of questions to stakeholders on these (and potentially other) topics, utilize those questions to develop an agenda for a webinar or other virtual meeting, and will attempt to conduct workshops virtually without in-person participation. The IPA will attempt to avoid directly overlapping comment processes and will provide at least 2-3-week deadlines for the receipt of any responses. This revised process may result in delays in implementation of program revisions and updates.

Additional information on these comment processes will be released by the Agency once available.

A Request for Comments on the IPA’s next utility-scale wind procurement was issued on March 16, 2020; that document can be found here.

ILSFA Grassroots Education Events: In-person Illinois Solar for All grassroots education events have already been suspended through April 10th, with the possibility for additional suspension should circumstances warrant.

The deadline for responses to the Request For Proposals for Program Year 2020-21 grassroots education funding has also been extended and is now April 6, 2020.

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FERC

March 19, 2020
Coronavirus Update: FERC Announces Point of Contact on Pandemic Response News Release | FERC Response

March 18, 2020
FERC, NERC Provide Industry Guidance to Ensure Grid Reliability Amid Potential Coronavirus Impacts News Release

March 13, 2020
FERC Coronavirus Update: March Meeting Canceled, Staff Telework Encouraged, Building Closed to Public News Release | Notice of Change in Meeting (PDF)

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ISO-NE

ISO-NE implements actions in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
To protect the health and wellbeing of its employees and maintain critical business operations, ISO-NE is following guidelines set by the CDC, as well as our Business Continuity and Pandemic Response Plans. Because of the potential risks associated with the COVID-19 outbreak, the ISO has taken a number of precautions. Updates will be posted here: www.isonewswire.com/covid-19.

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NYISO

NYISO has taken the following steps to protect power system operations:

    • Implemented a rotational work-from-home schedule;
    • Stakeholder meetings and internal meetings will be conducted via teleconference, and in-person meetings will be reduced to essential personnel only;
    • Suspended all non-essential business travel for its employees; and
    • Restricted outside visitors to those persons critical to ensuring business continuity.
    • https://www.nyiso.com/covid

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Maryland

Due to concerns about the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), and Governor Hogan’s declaration of a state of emergency in Maryland, effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020, the Commission has made several significant changes to its operations. Operational Changes Fact Sheet

The Commission has closed its physical offices at 6 Saint Paul Street in Baltimore and is no longer accepting public visitors or conducting public operations at that location. However, Commission personnel are working remotely to continue mission-critical functions and be responsive to regulated entities and the public.

Information regarding the status of meetings, hearings, filing requirements, consumer complaints, fiscal matters, etc. can be found on our home page, www.psc.state.md.us.

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Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (“MDPU”) is closed to all in-person services effective March 18, 2020, until further notice. All non-emergency employees will work remotely unless they perform core functions that require them to report to their regular work locations. On March 12, 2020, the Governor announced an emergency order suspending the requirement for public access to the physical location where a public meeting is taking place. The MDPU will continue to hold its regularly scheduled meetings, with public access available via webcast only.
See the regulation here

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New Hampshire

On March 13, 2020, Governor Sununu declared a State of Emergency due to the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. The Commission will be taking measures to assist in the mitigation of the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing. Wherever possible, we will be conducting meetings and technical sessions via videoconference. For docket-related proceedings, email notification will be provided to the service list of any changes. For non-docket related proceedings, notice will be provided to known interested stakeholders.

On March 17, 2020, Governor Sununu issued Emergency Order #3 (PDF), imposing a temporary prohibition on disconnection or discontinuance of certain services. Include among those services were electric, gas, water, and telephone service.

The Public Utilities Commission is available to assist customers of electric, gas and water utilities that are public utilities, customers of competitive electric providers, and customers of telephone providers.

Questions regarding other services – deliverable fuels, municipal utility service, or cable, internet or VOIP services - should be directed to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 603-271-3641 or by email at DOJ-CPB@doj.nh.gov.

Please check our website regularly for information about the status of upcoming meetings, technical sessions and hearings.

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New Jersey

In response to the coronavirus emergency, the Board issued an Order suspending door-to-door sales activities. Specifically, "[a]ll door-to-door sales activity by third-party suppliers or other sales persons selling energy or energy related products (for example: residential solar, community solar, or energy efficiency offerings) are to be suspended immediately."

The Board's action follows similar actions taken by the Commissions in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and New York to halt such activities as reported separately by NEM. The full texts of all of these Emergency Orders (ZIP Download) are available on the NEM Website (zip file).

Also note that as of March 11, the 2020 New Jersey Clean Energy Conference has been postponed. “We are taking this step out of an abundance of caution related to COVID-19 and given that attendees' safety is our #1 priority. We plan to reschedule the conference and are currently identifying new conference dates. We appreciate your patience as we confirm and communicate the updated details.”

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PJM

PUC Permitting Modifications to Administrative Deadlines, Procedural Rules for the Commission’s Filing and Service Requirements

https://insidelines.pjm.com/pjm-implements-additional-coronavirus-precautions/

In addition, PJM has taken the following steps to protect power system operations:

    • conducting all stakeholder meetings via video or teleconferencing through March 27, 2020, with re-evaluations occurring weekly;
    • implementing a work-from-home policy through March 27, 2020, with the exception of system operators and shift personnel; and
    • suspending all business travel until further notice.

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Pennsylvania

Under the unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) Chairman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille signed an emergency order (Microsoft Word Document Download) permitting the modification of regulatory and statutory deadlines and procedural rules affecting filing and service requirements with the PUC as well as time periods established for the Commission to take final action on matters before it.

“Under current circumstances, it has become necessary to take additional measures to ensure continued operations during this period,” Chairman Dutrieuille stated. “These measures are intended to prevent regulatory or statutory procedural rules, including those providing for the calculation of time periods for final Commission action, from interfering with the overall conduct of Commission business in the public interest during the emergency.”

Chairman Dutrieuille added that today’s emergency order is consistent with Gov. Wolf’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency which authorizes and directs the suspension of “the provisions of any regulatory statute prescribing the procedures for conduct of Commonwealth business, or the orders, rules or regulations of any Commonwealth agency, if strict compliance with the provisions . . . would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with this emergency.”
Today’s Emergency Order is the third such action initiated by the Commission since the Governor’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency on March 6th.

Chairman Dutrieuille signed an emergency order prohibiting electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, telecommunications and steam utility terminations; and then followed on Wednesday with an emergency order suspending door-to-door and in-person sales and marketing activities by competitive energy suppliers and their agents.

Press Release.

PUC offices are closed, but still performing critical functions remotely. Keep checking back, this page will be kept up to date as resources and information change.

Emergency Order Press Release on Suspension of Regulatory and Statutory Deadlines - PUC Permitting Modifications to Administrative Deadlines, Procedural Rules for the Commission’s Filing and Service Requirements, dated March 20, 2020. Docket No. M-2020-3019262. Emergency Order (Microsoft Word Document Download)

Emergency Order Press Release on Supplier Marketing - Press Release: PUC Suspends Door-to-Door, In-Person Marketing Activities for Energy Suppliers During Governor’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency, dated March 16, 2020. Docket No. M-2020-3019254. Emergency Order (PDF Download)

Emergency Order Press Release on Terminations - PUC Prohibits Utility Terminations, Consistent with Governor’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency, dated March 13, 2020. Docket No. M-2020-3019244. Emergency Order (PDF Download)

Public Meeting. The PUC will hold its next public meeting on Thursday, March 26, 2020, at 10:00 a.m., BUT will be conducted telephonically. Members of the public, the media and other will be able to access the telephone conference call to listen to the meeting.

Press Release announcing Telephonic Public Meeting - Dated March 19, 2020.

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Texas

Public Utility Commission Orders Adaptations in View of COVID-19 (PDF)

In accordance with the Commission order in Docket 50664 issued March 16, 2020, service of pleadings in all PUC dockets will only be by e-mail.

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Vermont

Information about changes to the Public Utility Commission's operations due to the new coronavirus known as COVID-19 - Updated 3-20-20

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