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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 03-813


Tentative Order

[33 Pa.B. 2142]

Public Meeting held
April 10, 2003

Commissioners Present:  Glen R. Thomas, Chairperson, statement follows; Robert K. Bloom, Vice Chairperson; Aaron Wilson, Jr.; Terrance J. Fitzpatrick; Kim Pizzingrilli

Electric Distribution Companies' Pennsylvania Sustainable Energy Funds; Doc. Nos. R-00973953, R-00973954, R-00973981, R-00974008, R-00974009

Tentative Order

By the Commission:


   By order entered on July 1, 1999, this Commission announced the creation of an autonomous Statewide board to provide oversight, guidance and technical assistance to the regional sustainable energy boards, which were established to assist in the management of the sustainable energy funds provided for in the electric restructuring proceedings.1 As noted by the Commission, the institution of these funds marked a significant step in establishing Pennsylvania as a National leader in the development of renewable and clean energy technologies.

   At the core of what the Commission labeled its ''cooperative approach,'' we envisioned a bi-lateral coordinated effort between the regions and the State. The Commission envisioned that the local regional boards would identify projects and initiatives as well as potential sources of additional support and expertise. Meanwhile, the Commission expected that the Statewide board would work in conjunction with the regional boards to ensure that the various sustainable energy funds are used in concert to promote a consistent plan that leverages the investment in new technologies.


   Through this Tentative Order, the Commission seeks to further define what is to be known as the Pennsylvania Sustainable Energy Board (PASEB). We seek comments from interested parties on our attempts to further define the role of the PASEB in ensuring that Pennsylvania continues as a leader in the development of renewable and clean energy technologies.

   From the outset, we note that the regional funds appear to have formed a close working relationship with each other. The regional funds report that their staffs communicate regularly about specific projects and general issues. The managers of the funds also meet on a quarterly basis, where the Commission staff has participated in most of the meetings. Moreover, the regional funds have held an annual fund meeting with over 20 guests from the Commission, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and other interests. Thus, the regional funds report that the close working relationship between them has produced the desired level of coordination and communication envisioned by a Statewide board. We believe that the continued existence of the PASEB and a further refinement of its role will only enhance this close working relationship between the regional funds.

   We note that the PASEB currently consists of nine representatives. The PASEB consists of one representative from each of the following Commonwealth agencies: the Commission, DEP, the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and the Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA). The PASEB also consists of a representative from the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) and a representative from each regional board. By this Tentative Order, the Commission's representative will be from the Office of Executive Director (OED), assisted by Commission staff from the Law Bureau and the Bureau of CEEP.

   We contemplate that the PASEB will continue to play a key role in the Commission's oversight process of the regional boards. To that end, one of the primary responsibilities of the PASEB will be to conduct an annual meeting in May of each year to update the relevant Commonwealth agencies and other interested groups2 on the status of the four regional boards. The annual forum will provide updates on the market status of sustainable energy technologies and projects, updates on the progress of the regional funds in achieving their missions and will provide an avenue for the regional boards to seek advice and support.

   The PASEB will also serve as an information conduit between the four regional boards and the Commission. The regional fund administrators will work in conjunction with the OED to produce an annual report on behalf of the PASEB to the Commission. The annual report will be due by April 30th of each year with copies available for the other relevant Commonwealth agencies and the public. The report will summarize the activities of the regional funds for the prior year, including projects approved to receive funding, projects that were denied funding and the reasons for the denial. To the extent that the report contains any proprietary information, the PASEB will file both a proprietary and nonproprietary version. However, the nonproprietary version should still contain sufficient aggregate data and generic descriptions of the projects that were approved and rejected in the preceding year so that the public has access to information about the activities and funding decisions of the regional boards.

   The PASEB will also promote greater uniformity of the business processes with each of the regional funds. Upon review of the responses to staff's data request issued on October 3, 2002, the Commission notes that there appears to be a discrepancy between each of the funds' business processes. In view of these discrepancies, the PASEB will create a ''best business practices'' model to cover these processes as the application process the reconsideration/appeal of denial process, and a code of conduct, among other things. While not a mandate per se, we envision that this ''best business practices'' model will serve as a uniform guide for each of the four funds. The PASEB is to develop this ''best business practices'' model within 1 year of the final order in this matter.

   We also note that Commission staff will continue to monitor the quarterly meetings conducted by each of the regional funds and report back to the Commission as warranted. We contemplate that this monitoring process will help keep the Commission apprised of the various projects and proposals brought before the four regional boards. In addition, the regional boards will continue to submit semi-annual and annual reports with the Secretary's Bureau, consistent with their by-laws previously approved by the Commission.

   Finally, the Commission notes that it expressly reserves the right to revisit organization and operations of the PASEB, where appropriate, particularly if a more formal centralized structure for handling common tasks becomes necessary at some point in the future; Therefore,

It Is Ordered That:

   1.  The PASEB provide oversight, guidance and technical assistance to the regional sustainable energy boards in Pennsylvania, consistent with this Tentative Order.

   2.  The PASEB conduct an annual meeting to update the appropriate Commonwealth agencies and other interests on the market status of sustainable energy technologies and projects, the progress of the regional funds in achieving their missions and to seek advice and support, consistent with this Tentative Order.

   3.  The PASEB submit semi-annual and annual reports to the Commission, other appropriate Commonwealth agencies and other interests, consistent with this Tentative Order.

   4.  The PASEB develop a ''best practices'' model to serve as a guide for the business practices of the funds, consistent with this Tentative Order.

   5.  Comments regarding this Tentative Order be filed with the Commission no later than 30 days after this Order is published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Reply comments are due 15 days thereafter.


Statement of Chairperson Glen R. Thomas

   Today's action further defines the role of the Pennsylvania Sustainable Energy Board (''PASEB'') and represents another step forward in establishing Pennsylvania as a national leader in the development of renewable and clean energy technologies. The four Sustainable Energy Funds (''Funds'') and their leadership have done many great things for Pennsylvania to date--such as establishing Pennsylvania as the east coast leader for wind energy. There is nevertheless room for improvement in two important areas: communication and sharing of best practices.

   The Funds must make every effort to keep the Commission fully apprised of their activities. While information flow to the Commission has improved over the past several months through Commission staff efforts, the Funds themselves must do more to communicate with the Commission on a regular basis. Today's order requires the PASEB to hold an annual forum in May of each year and to provide the Commission with an annual report by April 30th of each year. The forum and annual report will enable the Commission to monitor and compare the activities and progress of each Fund more effectively. The forum and report will also facilitate greater communication between the Funds themselves, as well as communication between the Funds and state agencies.

   The second significant part of today's order requires the PASEB to establish ''best business practices,'' including but not limited to application processes, reconsideration/appeal processes, and a code of conduct. Responses to data requests submitted by Commission staff to the Funds reveal that there are varying degrees of sophistication between the Funds. Standardization of business practices will facilitate joint projects and allow the Funds to learn from each other. While adoption of the best practices is not mandatory under this order, the mere existence of best practices will provide a standard by which the Funds can be meaningfully reviewed by the Commission. The Commission should not get into the business of micromanaging project decisions; however, the Commission must ensure that processes are in place by which every applicant will be treated fairly.

   The best days for renewable and sustainable energy in Pennsylvania lie ahead. I look forward to working with the Funds, the PASEB, and other state agencies to bring additional projects to Pennsylvania. I note that today's order is tentative and I welcome comments from all interested parties.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 03-813. Filed for public inspection April 25, 2003, 9:00 a.m.]


1 The four regional funds are the PECO Energy Sustainable Development Fund, the Sustainable Energy Fund of Central Eastern PA, the GPU Sustainable Energy Fund (now the Met-Ed/Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund), and the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund.

2 The relevant agencies include the Commission, DEP, DCED and OCA. Other interested groups would include PEC and other energy and environmental interests.

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