Section 21. (a) To mitigate capacity and energy costs for all customers, the department shall ensure that, subject to subsection (c) of section 19, electric and natural gas resource needs shall first be met through all available energy efficiency and demand reduction resources that are cost effective or less expensive than supply. The cost of supply shall be determined by the department with consideration of the average cost of generation to all customer classes over the previous 24 months.
(b)(1) Every 3 years, on or before April 30, the electric distribution companies and municipal aggregators with certified efficiency plans shall jointly prepare an electric efficiency investment plan and the natural gas distribution companies shall jointly prepare a natural gas efficiency investment plan. Each plan shall provide for the acquisition of all available energy efficiency and demand reduction resources that are cost effective or less expensive than supply and shall be prepared in coordination with the energy efficiency advisory council established by section 22. Each plan shall provide for the acquisition, with the lowest reasonable customer contribution, of all of the cost effective energy efficiency and demand reduction resources that are available from municipalities and other governmental bodies.
(2) A plan shall include: (i) an assessment of the estimated lifetime cost, reliability and magnitude of all available energy efficiency and demand reduction resources that are cost effective or less expensive than supply; (ii) the amount of demand resources, including efficiency, conservation, demand response and load management, that are proposed to be acquired under the plan and the basis for this determination; (iii) the estimated energy cost savings that the acquisition of such resources will provide to electricity and natural gas consumers, including, but not limited to, reductions in capacity and energy costs and increases in rate stability and affordability for low-income customers; (iv) a description of programs, which may include, but which shall not be limited to: (A) efficiency and load management programs; (B) demand response programs; (C) programs for research, development and commercialization of products or processes which are more energy-efficient than those generally available; (D) programs for development of markets for such products and processes, including recommendations for new appliance and product efficiency standards; (E) programs providing support for energy use assessment, real time monitoring systems, engineering studies and services related to new construction or major building renovation, including integration of such assessments, systems, studies and services with building energy codes programs and processes, or those regarding the development of high performance or sustainable buildings that exceed code; (F) programs for the design, manufacture, commercialization and purchase of energy-efficient appliances and heating, air conditioning and lighting devices; (G) programs for planning and evaluation; (H) programs providing commercial, industrial and institutional customers with greater flexibility and control over demand side investments funded by the programs at their facilities; and (I) programs for public education regarding energy efficiency and demand management; provided, however, that not more than 1 per cent of the fund shall be expended for items (C) and (D) collectively, without authorization from the advisory council; (v) a proposed mechanism which provides performance incentives to the companies based on their success in meeting or exceeding the goals in the plan; (vi) the budget that is needed to support the programs; (vii) a fully reconciling funding mechanism which may include, but which shall not be limited to, the charge authorized by section 19; (viii) the estimated amount of reduction in peak load that will be reduced from each option and any estimated economic benefits for such projects, including job retention, job growth or economic development; and (ix) data showing the percentage of all monies collected that will be used for direct consumer benefit, such as incentives and technical assistance to carry the plan. With the approval of the council, the plan may also include a mechanism to prioritize projects that have substantial benefits in reducing peak load, reducing the energy consumption or costs of municipalities or other governmental bodies, or that have economic development, job creation or job retention benefits.
(3) A program included in the plan shall be screened through cost-effectiveness testing which compares the value of program benefits to the program costs to ensure that the program is designed to obtain energy savings and system benefits with value greater than the costs of the program. Program cost effectiveness shall be reviewed periodically by the department and by the energy efficiency advisory council. If a program fails the cost-effectiveness test as part of the review process, it shall either be modified to meet the test or shall be terminated.
(c) Each plan prepared under subsection (b) shall be submitted for approval and comment by the energy efficiency advisory council every 3 years on or before April 30. The electric and natural gas distribution companies and municipal aggregators shall provide any additional information requested by the council that is relevant to the consideration of the plan. The council shall review the plan and any additional information and shall submit its approval or comments to the electric and natural gas distribution companies and municipal aggregators not later than 3 months after submission of the plan. The electric and natural gas distribution companies and municipal aggregators may make any changes or revisions to reflect the input of the council.
(d)(1) The electric and natural gas distribution companies and municipal aggregators shall submit their respective plans, together with the council's approval or comments and a statement of any unresolved issues, to the department every 3 years on or before October 31. The department shall consider the plans and shall provide an opportunity for interested parties to be heard in a public hearing.
(2) Not later than 90 days after submission of a plan, the department shall issue a decision on the plan which ensures that the electric and natural gas distribution companies have identified and shall capture all energy efficiency and demand reduction resources that are cost effective or less expensive than supply and shall approve, modify and approve, or reject and require the resubmission of the plan accordingly. The department shall approve a fully reconciling funding mechanism for the approved plan and, in the case of municipal aggregators, a fully reconciling funding mechanism that requires coordination between the distribution company and municipal aggregator to ensure that program costs are collected, allocated and distributed in a cost effective, fair and equitable manner. The department shall determine the effectiveness of the plan on an annual basis.
(3) Each electric and natural gas plan shall be in effect for 3 years.
(e) If an electric or natural gas distribution company or municipal aggregator has not reasonably complied with the plan, the department may open an investigation. In any such investigation, the utility company or aggregator shall have the burden of proof to show whether it had good cause for failing to reasonably comply with the plan. If the utility company or aggregator does not meet its burden, the department may levy a fine of not more than the product of $0.05 per kilowatt-hour or $1 per therm times the shortfall of kilowatt-hours saved or therms saved, as applicable, depending upon the facts and circumstances and degree of fault, which shall be paid to the Massachusetts clean energy technology center within 60 days after the end of the year in which the department levies the fine. The fine shall not impact ratepayers. The department of energy resources shall oversee the use of the funds held by the Massachusetts clean energy technology center under this subsection so as to maximize the amount of energy efficiency achieved.