Argued: April 11, 2017
K. Green, Esq. (orally), Sean Mahoney, Esq. and Greg
Cunningham, Esq., Conservation Law Foundation, Portland, for
appellant Conservation Law Foundation
Mills, Esq. (orally), and Mitchell M. Tannenbaum, Esq., Maine
Public Utilities Commission, Augusta, for appellee Public
Catherine R. Connors, Esq., and Liam J. Paskvan, Esq., Pierce
Atwood, LLP, Portland, and Patrick Taylor, Esq., Unitil
Service Corp., Hampton, New Hampshire, for appellee Northern
T. Mills, Attorney General, and Christopher C. Taub, Asst.
Atty. Gen., Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for
appellee Efficiency Maine Trust
SAUFLEY, C.J., and, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY,
The Conservation Law Foundation appeals from an order of the
Maine Public Utilities Commission approving a stipulation
regarding Efficiency Maine Trusts Third Triennial Plan for
energy efficiency. CLF contends that the Commissions order
and the terms of the stipulation disregard statutory mandates
set forth in the Efficiency Maine Trust Act. See
35-A M.R.S. §§ 10101-10123 (2015). With respect to
electric energy efficiency programs, CLF argues that the
Commission did not "make use of best practices across
the region" when calculating avoided energy costs and
selecting a discount rate, and that it failed to
"consider gross efficiency savings for the purpose of
determining savings that are cost-effective, reliable and
achievable" as required by 35-A M.R.S. §
10110(4-A). With respect to natural gas efficiency programs,
CLF asserts that the Commission failed to identify and fund
all cost-effective, reliable, and achievable natural gas
energy efficiency measures as required by 35-A M.R.S.
§§ 10104(4) and 10111(2). We discern no error in
the Commissions interpretation and application of these
statutes and affirm its order.
In 2009, the Legislature established the Efficiency Maine
Trust "for the purposes of developing, planning,
coordinating and implementing energy efficiency and
alternative energy resources programs in the State, "
to, inter alia, promote investment in energy efficiency
measures and reduce the cost of energy for Maine residents.
35-A M.R.S. § 10103(1), (1)(B)(1), (1)(D); see
generally 35-A M.R.S. §§ 10101-10123. To help
achieve these goals, the Trust develops a detailed energy
efficiency plan every three years to identify the maximum
achievable cost-effective energy efficiency savings (commonly
referred to by the Commission as "MACE") and
programs to achieve those savings. See 35-A M.R.S.
The Commission is tasked with reviewing the plan and opening
an adjudicatory proceeding, after which it must issue an
order approving the plan or rejecting elements of the
plan. 35-A M.R.S. § 10104(4)(D). The
Commission "shall approve all elements of the triennial
plan it determines to be [MACE]" and adjust gas utility
and transmission and distribution (T&D) rates to provide
revenue for procurement of the energy efficiency resources
identified by the triennial plan. Id.
The Efficiency Maine Trust Act sets forth specific standards
for the Commissions review and approval of electric energy
and natural gas efficiency programs. With respect to electric
[w]hen determining the amount of cost-effective electric
energy efficiency resources to be procured under this
subsection, the [C]ommission shall:
A. Consider electric energy efficiency resources that are
reasonably foreseeable to be acquired by the trust using all
other sources of revenue ...;
B. Ensure that calculations of avoided energy costs and the
budget identified by the trust in its triennial plan as
needed to capture all cost-effective electric energy
efficiency resources are reasonable, based on sound evidence
and make use of best practices across the region; and
C. Maximize total electricity savings for all ratepayers.
The [C]ommission shall consider gross efficiency savings for
the purpose of determining savings that are cost-effective,
reliable and achievable and shall consider both net and gross
efficiency savings for the purpose of determining the
appropriateness of the amount identified by the trust in its
triennial plan as needed to capture all cost-effective
electric energy efficiency resources.
With respect to natural gas, the Commission "shall
assess each gas utility, in accordance with the triennial
plan, an amount necessary to capture all [MACE]." 35-A
M.R.S. § 10111(2).
Third Triennial Plan
On December 17, 2015, the Trust submitted to the Commission
its petition for approval of the Triennial Plan for Fiscal
Years 2017-2019. For purposes of determining the
cost-effectiveness of proposed energy efficiency measures,
the Trust relied on the Avoided Energy Supply Costs in New
England: 2015 Report ("AESC ...