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Episode 78: Understanding FERC Order 2222 with Nat Kreamer and Jeff Dennis

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Transcript

Jon Powers:

Welcome to Experts Only podcast, sponsored by CleanCapital, and learn more at cleancapital.com. I’m your host Jon Powers. Each week, we explore the intersection of energy, innovation, and finance with leaders across the industry. Thank you so much for joining us. Welcome back to special Experts Only. Today, we dive into the new FERC proposed final rule, FERC Order 2222 with CEO of Advanced Energy Economy, Nat Kreamer, and the managing director and general counsel, Jeff Dennis, who has immense experience with FERC. If you’re like me, you know what FERC does, but you really don’t fully understand all of it and you really want to dive in to get a better understanding of not just the organization, but what a rule like 2222 will do for the industry. And more importantly, the market opportunity is for those that want to be a part of it.

Jon Powers:

For those that aren’t aware, FERC 2222 will help usher in the electric grid of the future. It’s going to promote competition and electric markets. The idea is it’s removing the barriers, preventing distributed energy resources from competing on the level playing field with organized capacity, energy, and ancillary service markets by regional grid operators. So it’s a really interesting order that came out in September. The playbooks are being put together right now by the RTOs, and you can have an opportunity to engage. Go to Advanced Energy Economy’s website, aee.net, there’s a lot more there on the order. And also you can learn from this conversation with Nat and Jeff about how you can get involved, how you can take action. And if I’m in your seat, I’m really looking at where’s the opportunity here? How can we really enhance opportunities for asset owners to aggregate, to be part of these markets? So I hope you enjoy the conversation. Nat and Jeff, thanks so much for joining me at Experts Only.

Jeff Dennis:

Thanks for having us.

Jon Powers:

Yeah. Nat, you’re the CEO of Advanced Energy Economy, you’ve got a really powerful background in the private sector, also military. For folks that don’t know, you’re a veteran of Afghanistan, and we served in the Special Forces. But you helped grow or found and grow Sunrun and then moving into growing and founding Clean Power Finance, which became Spruce. Just quickly, what got you excited about moving from that side to Advanced Energy Economy?

Nat Kreamer:

What I saw in running Sunrun, Clean Power Finance, and then being chair of the National Solar Industry Association was that we were moving from an industry that were a set of insurgents, that we were trying to break into the energy economy, and they were starting to become a dominant form of new energy and the biggest new source. And when you switch from being an insurgent to being the dominant new technology that people are investing in, you really have to change how you engage the economy policy makers, frankly, your customers. And you really have to come to it and say, “Hey, here’s my plan to power an entire economic system. This is how clean technologies can do that.”

Nat Kreamer:

And so I saw a gap and that gap was that advocacy for our industries was tended to be siloed around specific business models or specific technology types. And really [crosstalk 00:03:25] the policy makers and say, “Hey, here’s the plan to go to a 100% clean. Here’s the plan how we’re going to electrify transportation. Here’s how you can do that for an industrialized economy so that it is safe, is clean, secure, and it’s affordable.” And nobody really was telling that story in a comprehensive way, except for AEE. And AEE really was going out and bringing that message to decision makers, governors, PUC commissions, FERC, at Capitol Hill and saying, “Here’s how we actually do this. Here’s how all of these different technologies work together. Here’s how all of these different business models work together. And here’s how we actually execute the energy transformation.” So I was attracted to the fundamental business model that AEE was prosecuting. And I’ve been excited to see while I’ve gotten to be here, AEE had some huge fit wins, for example, the Virginia Clean Economy Act. Yeah, that’s a huge market transforming example of the kind of work that I’m describing.

Jon Powers:

Yeah. I’ve been on the other side of the table and Advanced Energy Economy came in to talk to us at places like the White House. What I loved about the organization still do is it’s not a think tank, it’s a do tank. It’s spending the time really thinking about these issues, thinking about the market transformational piece of it, and then advocating those policies and pushing that forward in the agenda, which is so key because there’s a lot of folks that think about it, not as many people that do it.

Nat Kreamer:

That’s right.

Jon Powers:

Just for folks that are aware, you guys are a membership organization. You can go to aee.net. Someday you got to buy .org, by the way. It should be a business focus. Who are your members? How do people end up joining?

Nat Kreamer:

Well, we have basic members who join us for relatively small amount of money per year. And what they get is they know we’re advocating on their behalf. And they got a lot of intelligence that’s very granular about how we’re taking those big ideas and transforming policies so we can expand markets for them. And then we have members who will join us and spend more money with us, frankly, who helped shape those policies. And so our members are everyone from folks who are involved in developing wind and solar and battery storage to people who are providing smart grid technologies, to electrifying transportation, to energy efficiency. So it really is the entire technology suite of transitioning our economy from dirty fossil to clean and renewable, and then doing so we can also electrify transportation.

Nat Kreamer:

We work at the state level and also at the federal level. We tend to focus on specific markets. And we really are member-driven in the sense that we ask our members to bid on places where they think policy… we can have the biggest policy impact. So in a lot of ways, we’re investors because really policy is effectively real options investing. So when people join us, we take their capital and we say, “What’s the optimal portfolio you’d like us to pursue and we go pursue it?” And what it’s meant for the time that I’ve been here is that really among advocacy organizations, the best track record of opening and expanding markets, clear about 20 gigawatts for renewables, many billions of dollars for storage and electrified transportation as well as energy efficiency programs nationwide.

Jon Powers:

Love it, love it. For the audience, we’re going to have a separate conversation, Nat and I, about Advanced Energy Economy, the work they’re doing post-election. And really, you may not know this. I’ve been really focused, Nat, on what the next year 10 years look like for the industry. So we can get beyond the growth we’ve had today, which is about setting the table to really expanding and moving forward. So I’m going to shift to Jeff for a second, Jeff Dennis, the managing director and general counsel. Jeff, you’re a nationally recognized leader here in energy law and policy. Do you even always been on the advocacy side, the right you served in the private side and actually adjudicated in front of FERC before?

Jeff Dennis:

Yeah, that’s right. Actually, I also spent over 10 years at FERC on a variety of roles, advising a commissioner, director of policy, my most recent stint there as well. Yeah. So a wide variety of experiences at FERC. And then in the private sector as well, a couple of great law firms representing clients like AEE and others throughout this energy transition.

Jon Powers:

I’m going to step back and simplify a lot of this for the audience who may not know this. But just for folks that aren’t aware, first, what is FERC? And what is the role does it play in our industry?

Jeff Dennis:

Well, so FERC is what we call an independent regulatory authority. And so it is given certain responsibilities by Congress to regulate electricity, natural gas, hydroelectric dams, as well as some smaller things like transportation of oil and propane and products like that. But mainly, when we think about FERC, we think about its regulation of wholesale electricity markets, the transmission grid, as well as regulation of the transportation of natural gas by pipeline. When we call it an independent regulator, what we mean by that is that it is designed by Congress to be part policymaker and part adjudicator. So there are five members. There can be no more than three of anyone party. Every year, one of those members terms expires. So there’s always the opportunity for a president to nominate and have confirmed by the Senate, a new commissioner. So intended to be somewhat removed from everyday politics and to you carry out that regulatory authority in that way.

Jon Powers:

Yeah. For the audience that don’t know, it is truly a regulatory independent organization. When I was at the White House, you could provide ideas, but you couldn’t influence FERC. And I think you saw this in this last administration or the current administration when they tried to move forward with putting on a premium around coal, for instance, in terms of utility is it was a major push by Department of Energy, but the commission stepped back and said, “No, this doesn’t make sense to the market.” And it was a pretty major victory for the industry as a whole.

Jon Powers:

I want to get into FERC Order 2222 for a second and the process behind it. But before doing that, let’s just talk process for a second. So when an order comes out from the commission, there’s been a tremendous amount of legwork done ahead of time, research by probably folks like yourself when you’re sitting there before they come out with this proposed rule. First of all, give a little bit of color on what that lead up looks like, and then what are the next steps beyond a proposed rule before it becomes a law of the land?

Jeff Dennis:

Sure. Yeah. Exactly as you teed up there, there’s a lot of pre-work that goes into an order like this. And so on going all the way back, actually to 2014 when I was in the policy office at FERC, I actually led a team that really started looking at this, really focused on distributed storage actually, mostly, and seeing the explicit growth of distributed storage and the potential of its impact going forward on wholesale electricity markets. That team did a lot outreach with the industry actually. And then if you fast forward a couple of years, we started seeing entities like Advanced Energy Economy coming to us and suggesting that the commission take the next step. And I really look at how do wholesale electricity markets that FERC regulates, how do those market rules in those markets present barriers to energy storage and distributed energy technologies more broadly?

Jeff Dennis:

And those barriers are often a matter of the fact that these markets were created about 20, 25 years ago with a totally different set of technologies in mind, and a set of technologies that operate, that have technical characteristics and operating characteristics that are a lot different than energy storage, distributed solar, or even utility scale wind and solar and all of these different technologies. And so these are what you’re thinking about, like politically-driven. We’re going to just say we don’t want wind in our markets or this or that. It’s typically because a market rule was designed around a conventional technology and it needs to be adjusted to assure that that newer technology can provide the same service on a level playing field.

Jon Powers:

Yeah. Interesting. It’s a clear recognition of the energy transition that’s been underway and in a way to play a major role of it. So let’s dive into… Oh, just quickly, the proposed rule comes out and then just process for a second here. Really, the industry as a whole has a chance to comment over the next… was like I think 90 days, 120 days, is that correct?

Jeff Dennis:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jon Powers:

And then the commission will take those comments and then put a final rule out, probably early part of next year?

Jeff Dennis:

Actually, we already have a final rule. Order 2222 is a final rule. Yeah. In 2016, the commission actually initiated this rulemaking, following up on really the suggestion of AEE and some other parties to put out a rulemaking that directed regional transmission organizations and independent system operators, the big grid operators that run the markets for two-thirds of the load in the country. So big markets, big economic opportunity. And what FERC said in that rulemaking was, “We propose to direct you to open your markets to participation by energy storage, as well as aggregations of distributed energy resources.” And so I’d put that out for comment. One thing that’s important to highlight there, which is hopefully not too in the weeds, but there’s two ways that things come before FERC. Either a utility, which can include an RTO or an ISO, file is a proposal on its own, or FERC, on its own, gathers evidence, determines that these markets may no longer be just and reasonable under the statute because of market barriers inhibiting competition or something like that, and then proposes to take an action. And that’s what FERC did here based on information that [crosstalk 00:13:53].

Jon Powers:

Separate from that metering effort this summer that was of proposal utilities and no meter.

Jeff Dennis:

Exactly, exactly, right. Yep. And so FERC said, “Based on our review of the industry, our review of the evidence, we think these markets are not just and reasonable because they’re not accommodating participation by these resources. And we propose to change that.”

Jon Powers:

Yeah. Excellent. So I do want to get in the weeds here pretty quickly. But before doing that, just to help define for folks how FERC sees it, distributed energy resource, obviously storage is piece of it, is distributed generation solar, like what else would you put into that bucket as a definition?

Jeff Dennis:

Well, so FERC, in the final rule, defines distributed energy resources broadly and in a technology neutral way to be anything essentially that sits on the distribution grid or behind the customer meter. In the commissioners on statements and in a lot of what’s inside the rule, you can tell they’re very focused on energy storage on the distribution grid behind meter. I call it distributed energy storage. Certainly, rooftop solar, other forms of distributed generation like fuel cells, those kinds of things. They’re also very focused on electric vehicles and associated infrastructure. Yeah. So those are the technologies I think the commission has in mind.

Jon Powers:

Now, I think that’s one of the things I wanted to get at. I think the EV space is really fascinating here, where you got opportunity to using it as a storage mechanism and aggregating that power is really pretty advanced thinking in terms of what the grid could do. So take us through Order 222. I think from a very simple way, I think you’ve given a great overview of it. What is the major changes that are coming out of this for the utilities?

Jeff Dennis:

So what the order at its most basic level does is it directs the regional transmission organizations and the independent system operators to open their markets to participation by aggregations of distributed energy resources. The commission’s order finds that existing market rules don’t accommodate the ability of these resources to aggregate together to meet whatever requirements there are to provide a wholesale services, whether that’s a requirement that you be a minimum size, or that you be able to operate for certain amount of runtime, for example. So maybe an individual storage resource or demand response energy efficiency resource couldn’t do that. But when they are combined together, they could.

Jeff Dennis:

So whatever the technical requirements are to provide wholesale energy capacity or ancillary services, this order says, “Allow distributed energy resources aggregate to do that.” And then the order goes into quite a bit of detail about exactly how the RTOs need to go about that, various eligibility requirements that they need to define in their tariffs, requirements for how all the various actors that are involved in a distributed energy resource aggregation will play together. So, admittedly and understandably, distributed energy resource aggregation is a little more complicated that way. These markets were designed around which was a wholesale market operator, a very large conventional generating resource. And now, you’ve got a distributed energy resource aggregator, an owner or operator of an individual distributed energy resource, the RTO, the ISO itself, the distribution utility, and state regulators. So it’s quite a bit of discussion in the order about how the RTOs need to go about coordinating among those folks as well. But at a high level, those are the key requirements of the order.

Jon Powers:

Back to process for a second, so the order then tells the RTOs, “Here’s what you need to plan for.” And then the next step, they actually have to put up plans over the next certain window so that people know how to execute within it?

Jeff Dennis:

That’s right, that’s right. Obviously, this is an area where the RTOs and the ISOs will need to adapt how they comply to their own particular market design. There’s a lot of similarities among these markets, but they’re also quite different in their own ways. And so the RTOs and the ISOs are given 270 days to come back on compliance with plans to actually put this into their FERC regulated tariffs, so the things that are on file at FERC and that actually govern the markets from day-to-day.

Jon Powers:

Let’s get out of the weeds and out of process for a second and talk about what really the market opportunity… Oh, go ahead if you’ve got another point.

Jeff Dennis:

Well, no, one more process point that I don’t want to leave out because it is really important is the RTOs won’t go do that in a vacuum. They will work with their stakeholders to develop those plans. And that’s a really critical part of this process, for anybody who’s interested in the market opportunity this order will ultimately present, or any of the other details of the rule. How the RTOs actually develop those compliance plans and the input they take from industry is going to be really important. Because once those get to FERC, FERC’s window for making detailed changes to those becomes more limited. So it’s a process point, but it’s a really important one.

Jon Powers:

No, super point. If I’m an aggregator of storage or I’m a member of AEE, how do I take part in that campaign and help weigh in on, I think, what really the critical tramp formation of this planet?

Jeff Dennis:

So we, as AEE, will be carefully monitoring all of the stakeholder processes and engaging in each of them on priority issues that we determined with our members. Nat talked a little bit about our membership structure as well. And for folks who have bought up to that level where they influence our policy, we’ll be working directly with them in a working group to determine what their priority issues are and then determine the best strategy for getting those in front of RTOs and ISOs. Those processes will play out in various RTO and ISO committees. And so we also have a tool called PowerSuite that we’ve recently upgraded to allow you to actually track those processes. And that’ll be a tool that will be really important for folks who want to track those processes directly and get engaged in them.

Jeff Dennis:

But being at the RTO, and of course in this time virtually at the RTO through WebEx, whatever their preferred option is, is going to be really important. And so one of our focuses in AEE is really facilitating the ability of our industry to participate in those processes because they’re resource intensive, they have their own language and their own culture, if you will. And so helping companies who might not be longstanding market participants or may even be new to the energy industry because of their investment in distributed energy, helping them unpack all that is one of the key things that we do.

Jon Powers:

No, I think that’s such an important point. And not just unpack it, but then understanding what actions to take. Because I feel like CleanCapital is a growing company. We don’t have a dedicated policy shop that we can access for FERC regulatory folks to weigh in on this. We would look to an Advanced Energy Economy to give us marching orders on how we can play a role, whether it be simply slapping a logo on a letter, or providing comments. Will that “campaign” be driven… Will you guys be driving that campaign to the different RTOs across the country?

Jeff Dennis:

We’re going to do everything we can to drive that campaign. It’s resource intensive. So we’re out there looking for more partners to come in and join us. But yeah, that’s our mission and our focus. And what we’ve really focused on in the last couple of years across the board, not just with this issue is getting our companies more engaged in that stakeholder process on a day-to-day basis, because the way you influence it is no different than a legislative process. In the old in-person times, you’re there everyday drinking the coffee and eating the bad pastry and talking about your kid’s soccer game on the weekend and all of that. And our industry needs to be in there doing that with the utilities, with the conventional generators and other traditional stakeholders.

Jon Powers:

Excellent. Before we ask people to sign up and become members to do that, which we will be doing for sure here, Nat, just to give you a heads up, what I get excited about is the market opportunity. This means for not just going to be like in Capitol, but folks that are aggregating DG and really looking beyond the standard power purchase agreements that we have in place today, because the market is moving in some really interesting places with community solar, obviously with storage. The DG energy transformation is underway. Could you give us some color on how you guys view the changing market and what this means for DG over the next decade?

Nat Kreamer:

Yeah. I might be able to take a little bit of a stab here and I think Jeff can too. When I originally co-founded Sunrun, we called Sunrun Generation back in 2007. And the vision was we went on this fleet of distributed power generation units. Nobody had at that point. It just didn’t exist. We didn’t even have smart metering that had route density. Everything had route density. So we couldn’t even neater things the right way. But the idea was one day we’ll be able to take these assets and we’ll be able to aggregate them and use them in the wholesale power markets, just like you would use a big central station power generation unit.

Nat Kreamer:

And I think what we see today is 2222 basically codifies that you can do that. We see it being done in patchwork ways across the country. This basically opens up the market and says, “If you can imagine taking a bunch of small energy assets, whether they’re reducing the amount of load you need, or they’re providing capacity, or they’re providing some other ancillary service, or they’re just aggregation generation at the right time of day, you can batch them up cost-effectively and bid them into the market and participate alongside the two gigawatt nuclear power station in Palo Verde, for example.” And so I think that’s the beauty of it is now there’s an opening for innovation to happen, where there’s a clear path for how you take your assets into this big market.

Nat Kreamer:

Historically, it was a vision and then it became something people could test, and then there were some trial markets like the market out here in California, and now we’re saying is like you can go into the big market. I think on a large-scale, what this is going to do, it’s going to position distributed energy to be able to provide more value to the market. The reality is that a lot of value is moving to the customer location. And as we electrified transportation, a lot of load is going to move to the customer trip location. Just to put in people’s perspective, your average six-pump gas station is going to need as much electricity to fuel that many vehicles as your average factory. So the amount of low density per square foot is going to go way, way up in the energy future. And for us to be able to manage electrified transportation and intermittent clean energy, we’ve got to have a way to get all of these resources into the market, which creates a lot of innovation. And I think that’s the big framing here.

Jon Powers:

That’s a really interesting example. So you’re saying in the electric vehicle world, the six-pump station is going to need as much electricity as a warehouse. That’s fascinating. I’m going to ask you to put your investor hat back on, and you were looking at opportunities, aggregating these. Most asset managers don’t have the capacity or the technology solutions in place to aggregate and to take advantage of this. Do you see a development in this… there’ll be the stems of the world or others that are starting to aggregate in support of asset managers and then selling into that market? How do you see that part of the market developing?

Nat Kreamer:

Yeah. I think, historically, what people would say is, “Well, wow.” If one I could play in the capacity market at PJM, or I was able to dispatch generation at the right time and trade around this asset, wow, that’s just upside in my financial model that I can imagine. It’s just optionality in the terminal value of the investment. Now, you can say, “Look, is there a cost-effective way for me to actually monitor and control that asset? And if I can monitor and control that asset and I can do it at the standard the RTO or ISO requires, now I can deliver.” And so those are two parts. And the second part is, “Am I credit worthy to participate in the market? Either I’ve got the balance sheet to do it, or I rent the balance sheet of a credit worthy institution, which is a form of borrowing so I can basically get a facility.” And there are plenty of people out there who will do that for you.

Nat Kreamer:

And once you have those three things, which is you can monitor it, you can control it, and you’ve got the credit to actually make sure that you’re going to do what you say you’re going to do, which is dispatch or you’re going to pay, you can make turn that into an asset. There are, I think, businesses and you know one of them that’ll be able to say, “Listen, I can monitor for you and I can give you control.” And that’s a software and a little bit of commodity hardware, frankly, technology matching that with credit. This becomes really an underwriting activity for investors really specialized in understanding these markets and these assets. In other words, has an asset actually been created? And can I actually match that to a credit facility? So I think there’ll be a set of investors who can specialize in this area and that they’ll be able to take… If you think about it, they’ll be able to take a fixed income or a merchant risk profile on the equity returns around these assets. They’ll be able to take a piece of that action.

Jon Powers:

Yeah. Let me ask you, Nat, because I haven’t talked a lot about obviously the movement of the institutional investor into the distributed generation space, or clean energy as a whole. They’re just now really trickling into the DG space, but that’s because they understand what PPAs are. So now, we’re going to add this extra level of complexity and opportunity. What do you think that’s going to do to the capital providers? Is it just going to make it a boutique pool of folks that are playing here, or are we going to get the pension funds down the road? Merchant scares them, right? The idea of merchant rates, just like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. That’s Chinese. I don’t get it.” So how do we educate them that this is a very valid place to be investing?

Nat Kreamer:

Yeah. I think what we’re going to find out is that large-scale institutional capital will back specialists who have an improving investment track record really understand the esoteric nature of parts of these markets and understand how to perfect an asset and underwrite and manage that asset. I think that’ll accrue to a set of platforms that are already out there. They may be control as you do, controlling a bunch of DG assets. They may be in the store playing in the storage space. One of our members is in the electric transportation space and they’re providing school bus fleets as a service, pay per mile to school districts. But then the bus doesn’t operate for a lot of the day and it doesn’t operate through the summer. It’s a great asking, using as a grid asset.

Nat Kreamer:

I think the institutional capital will come into those platforms, where there’s a manager, as opposed to what we’re starting to see in the renewables market, where the institutional capital will do it direct into projects, or might say, “Listen, I’m not going to pay a lot of money to a financial manager like as you see in the BlackRock, Goldman, Capital Dynamics platforms.” So they say, “Listen, I’ll pay you very low fees. Go out and put a lot of money into renewable energy projects.” I think we’re a long way from that moment. But I think we are in this moment that this gives the opening for platforms to be backed.

Jon Powers:

Yeah. It’s super interesting. And then I’m going to ask one more finance-oriented one and it’s around tax equity, where depending on a Biden administration, if there’s a Biden administration, there may be a push to move away from just the pure tax credit. It is a chokehold in the distributed generation space, for sure. And this just adds an additional layer. I mean, community solar, itself, scares a lot of tax equity investors who aren’t going there yet, just worried about getting enough subscribers, you put this layer. And so how do we either educate that community on the opportunity here, or put a policy in place on the tax side to help eliminate that chokehold because I feel like that’s holding up so many deals right now, just trying to find the tax equity?

Nat Kreamer:

Yeah. Jon, I appreciate you asking that. Earlier this year, I think I came out… and not think, I did. I came out and I wrote an opinion piece and we put forward a piece of policy that said what? The tax credits should be refundable. And you should basically be able to safe harbor things that are refundable and carry it forward. And by the way, if you use domestic content, you should be able to get that for even longer. So like let’s help American workers, let’s help American manufacturing, but let’s take the constraints off of the tax equity market. And the reality is that 11 cents out of every dollar of tax credit is going to a finance here. And there’s really not a great reason for it, as you and I know.

Nat Kreamer:

I’m probably the person who’s done the most tax equity and the most first time tax equity in the order of billions and creating an industry in segment who’s willing to say this because everybody else is getting tax equity and scared to say it. And the truth is, look, a lot of my friends who are doing tax equity love the market. But guys, you should go back to a world where you are doing three times as much volume like we did on the 1603 grant program at one-third the fees. Having the tax equity market constrained has really gotten in the way of innovation. If it looked more like a lending market against the government refundable receivable, the industry would go a lot faster. The financial institutions who are in the tax equity business, they’re much bigger businesses, there wouldn’t be niche portions of their respective financial institutions.

Nat Kreamer:

I know that would be better for their personal careers. It hell mean a lot better for the broader industry and all the businesses. So I’m hoping for Biden administration, I don’t think we need to go back to 30%. But I think for the mainline renewables, I think if we could be 26% and refundable, you’re right, we will unlock capacity that would be able to address all these new segments if the industry take advantage of this. I’ll take into mind saying that, but I don’t agree.

Jon Powers:

No, no, no, this is part two of our next podcast. We’re going to talk very much on this, Nat, because I feel you on this. This is something I’ve been pushing pretty heavily in advocating for. I do want to go before we end here and go back to FERC 222. And Jeff, if you have a message to the audience on what they need to be doing now over the next six months to ensure that this market opportunity is there for the industry, other than listening to the podcast and signing up at AEE to learn more, what do you want them to do?

Jeff Dennis:

There’s a couple of things. One we hit on earlier, of course, which is engage in those RTO and ISO stakeholder processes with your associations like [inaudible 00:34:41] with partners, however, you can get in the door because the RTOs and the ISOs need your input. And in fact, a lot of times, what I heard when I first came over to AEE, was working on the side of the industry was they often said to me, “We don’t hear enough from distributed resource providers. We don’t know exactly what they need.” So that’s always job one for me. I think the second one is [crosstalk 00:35:07].

Jon Powers:

Just follow-up on that, how can they do that? If we are members of CEO or we need to become members of AEE, Nat, we’ve talked about that, if they’re not aware… And I would say most of the reasons that DG people aren’t bringing those messages forward, they don’t exactly know how. They don’t have the big checkbook to have policies and so. What do you suggest they do to be part of that coalition?

Jeff Dennis:

You find somebody who will knock on the door for you. So what we do for our members, and not just really our members too, I mean, we build broader coalitions as well because we’ve got a public interest mission that extends to our entire industry. So we knock on the door at PJM and we say, “We’d like to bring in these five companies.” And going back to where Nat started, one of the great things about AEE is I can bring an EV charging infrastructure developer, I can bring a distributed solar developer, and I can bring a battery energy storage developer product, and I can [inaudible 00:36:09] one room, and they’ll all say the same thing about what they need from the RTO and ISO market rules to allow them to build out the business in a reliable way. So that’s a big part of what you need to do is just find somebody who will help you knock on the door and then go knock on the door.

Jeff Dennis:

These markets and the RTO and the ISO staffs are much more open to conversation than I think a lot of people give them credit for. You have to recognize the position they’re in, which is they have a compliance obligation. They are dealing with a stakeholder body well beyond you. But part of my job is to help folks understand that because I’ve been at this for 20 years now. So here’s what you’re going to hear from the natural gas fired [inaudible 00:36:53]. Here’s what you’re going to hear from the consumer side and the distribution utilities and being able to put all of that together and form a coalition. That’s why I talk about it like a legislative process. Because in a lot of ways, that’s what it’s like. But it starts with showing up.

Jeff Dennis:

The second piece I wanted to mention too was so many distributed energy resource providers today and in the future are participating in retail programs, retail programs and they help shape at the state level, whether it’s things we’re seeing more recently like Clean Peak Standard programs and other things like that, whether it’s like SMART Massachusetts, or any number of those programs. Work with your state regulators to make sure that this is not viewed as a threat, but as an opportunity to capitalize on investments they’ve already made.

Jeff Dennis:

So when I advocate for policies like what became Order 2222 and I put on my old regulator hat, the thing that I emphasize the most is how much value the entire grid and customers will get from taking these assets and utilizing them for more services. And it’s not unlike any other asset on the grid. The more you get out of it, the less customers have to pay to invest in some other asset that they wouldn’t need to build. And so the opportunity to defer expensive distribution upgrades and particularly hard to build places, the opportunity to defer a 30-year investment in a generation asset that climate policy may make obsolete, all of those kinds of opportunities are critical to what states want to do with their own policy and with their own clean energy economies. And so really talking about that with them and making sure they understand the opportunity as well, I think is going to go a long way to ensuring that at the end of the day we have RTO/ISO markets that not only provide the opportunity for these assets, but harmonize well with the opportunity at the retail level as well.

Jon Powers:

I love it. And then one last question. What’s the numbering system? We just say lucky it’s 2222 or just [crosstalk 00:39:04]?

Jeff Dennis:

It’s interesting. There is actually a sequence of order numbers that FERC uses. Not every order gets an order number and I won’t go into that. But then the chairman, at his or her discretion, can decide to assign a different order number-

Jon Powers:

Oh, that’s awesome.

Jeff Dennis:

…. out of the sequence. So, for example, the commission’s landmark order that restructured the industry, order number 88A was named by chairwoman Betsy Moler because the commission had just moved into a brand new building at 88A per string. So that’s just one example.

Jon Powers:

And it was like 2222. That’s it. We’re doing it.

Jeff Dennis:

Yeah. I think it was a combination of his kids’ birthdays and other things I think he explained.

Jon Powers:

Oh, that’s cynical.

Jeff Dennis:

Yeah.

Jon Powers:

Well, Jeff, thank you so much. And Nat, thanks as always, I look forward to continuing the conversation.

Nat Kreamer:

Tanks, Jon.

Jeff Dennis:

Thank you, Jon.

Nat Kreamer:

Just to challenge our audience to go to aee.net. First of all, there’s great detail and information on a blog that Jeff did around for Order 2222, you can find it there. Learn more about PowerSuite and how you can sign up to be part of the campaign. Want to thank Monique from your team for helping to put this together and our producer, Carly Baton, and Colleen Young for helping to manage this in the CleanCapital side. As always, you can find more episodes at cleancapital.com, and I look forward to continuing the conversation.

Jon Powers:

Thanks for listening in today’s conversation. Find more episodes on cleancapital.com, iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts. You like what you hear, be sure to subscribe and leave us a five star review. We look forward to continuing our conversation on energy, innovation, and finance with you.