Stakeholder Engagement in e21 Phase III

February 15, 2018 | Blog

Author: Trevor Drake

Since its inception in 2014, the e21 Initiative has carefully and thoughtfully convened stakeholders to develop recommendations towards a 21st century electric system in Minnesota.

Now well into its third and final phase, e21 seeks to help translate great ideas into action by facilitating discussions among key parties interested in a specific issue or potential intervenors in a particular docket. The intention is to contribute to successful regulatory filings that implement key e21 concepts and recommendations, while improving mutual understanding among Minnesota’s energy community.

Types of Stakeholder Engagement in e21 Phase 3

e21 facilitators are using three different types of convenings in Phase III, each designed around where a given issue is on the adoption curve (e.g., whether it most needs general exploration or is poised for implementation by one or more utilities):

  • Forums are intended to deeply explore a given “hot topic” under the broad categories of grid modernization, utility business model innovation, and regulatory evolution. Their goal is to raise the level of awareness and understanding on important emerging topics so that Minnesota’s energy community stays at the cutting edge. Forums are open to all interested parties and often feature experts from elsewhere in the country. GPI and CEE expect to organize 3-4 of these per year. Example: In July of 2017, e21 hosted a Forum on Advanced Rate Designs, including design best practices and impacts to key consumer groups.
  • Roundtables are smaller and more focused, providing an opportunity for key stakeholders and intervenors to share information and insights about how they are thinking about a particular regulatory filing or issue, in order to clarify positions and identify the potential for shared principles or common ground. Roundtables are by invitation-only, seeking to convene a diversity of perspectives that are important to the specific topic or issue at hand. Example: Starting in November 2017, e21 has hosted a series of meetings as part of the Roundtable on Performance Incentive Mechanisms to convene stakeholders in advance of regulatory filings.
  • Project Workgroups are focused on a very specific regulatory filing or project. The goal is to gather input and advice from potential intervenors that improves the ultimate regulatory filing (if there is to be one), or gather input from key interested parties on a given project; to inform participants about the pilot or project; and to identify and attempt to address important issues prior to regulatory filing or implementation. Example: In 2017, e21 convened a project workgroup to advise on the design of Xcel Energy’s Minnesota Time of Use Rate Design pilot project.

Ground Rules for Stakeholder Engagement

Across each of these three types of convenings, e21 facilitators are utilizing the following core set of ground rules, which are intended to provide clarity and transparency in how these meetings are convened, facilitated, and recorded:

  1. Engage the parties that are directly affected or involved (i.e., the utilities to which the project applies and advocates representing the customer groups potentially affected)
  2. Seek to convene a diversity of perspectives that are important to the outcome
  3. Invite the group to inform and agree to an agenda upfront
  4. Identify areas of common agreement or disagreement and share perspectives and insights, but do not drive to consensus
  5. Publicize notes unless the group objects, but do not attribute comments to specific parties
  6. Invite group members to revise notes before they are made public

NOTE: Additional ground rules, or edits to these ground rules, may be proposed and enacted by consensus at the beginning of each meeting or series of meetings (e.g., to foster candor and increase mutual learning and understanding, the group may decide NOT to record and publish notes for some discussions).

For more information on Forums, Roundtables, and Project Workgroups, check out our Progress page.