Why some proceedings blow up, while others reach consensus.
Herman K. Trabish is a full-time news reporter covering regulatory proceedings as well as renewables, energy storage, transmission, and policy issues. Formerly a Doctor of Chiropractic, he transitioned to his current career and cut back on treating when he realized his plan to save the world one patient at a time was taking too long. Feel free to direct feedback and story ideas to herman@NewEnergyNews.net.
Duke Energy Commercial Portfolio President Marc Manly said it well, recalling how Duke helped broker a ground-breaking regulatory agreement on solar energy policy: "I would point to what we managed to do in South Carolina," Manly said. "We showed we can work with all stakeholders, including some very difficult people, and with some head-knocking, work out legislation and regulatory rules."
But in other states, as Manly notes, the net metering debate has sometimes proved "caustic" and "antagonistic," making it nearly impossible to reach consensus. "Emotions have run wild," he says. "Name-calling has occurred and pretty extreme positions got staked out."
What makes the difference in outcomes?
The Utility Advantage
Most commission proceedings begin with the utility stating its case. This initiative tends to give the utility an advantage - a "presence," if you will, according to the attorneys, regulators, public advocates, and stakeholders who agreed to speak on the record about their experiences in participating in utility regulatory proceedings.
"Utilities' profits and losses are associated with sales and revenues but really they are determined by the relationship they have with their regulators, says Paul Kaufman, attorney with Chadbourne and Parke.
"That's why they stay focused on commission relationships."