Comments from Bonneville
Thank you for the opportunity to review the draft 2021 RTF work plan. Overall, BPA is supportive of the work plan and we look forward to engaging with the RTF and accomplishing much needed regional work in 2021. We are particularly supportive of the relative increase in effort for the development of new measures and updates of existing measures.
Below are a few specific areas we would like to highlight for additional consideration as the work plan is being finalized:
Regional Research Coordination
- The region is currently engaged in a number of large regional research efforts, one in particular being the RBSA. BPA recommends that the RTF consider increasing hours and engagement with the RBSA, in particular the planning work that happens pre-fielding. Specifically, we recommend bringing some of the work for a pre-fielding review by RTF members and increasing the expectations of hours of CAT review. This work is foundational to tools like SEEM and we believe that it is a valuable use of resources to ensure the underlying data is accurate and useful. Given that the RBSA is a regional dataset and the RTF is a regional independent review body who happens to be one of the largest “power users” and biggest critics of the data, it seems warranted that the RTF would have a greater role in helping review the RBSA methods prior to fielding. Additionally, NEEA will be seeking feedback on some pretty big potential study design changes like changing to a longitudinal study.
- RTF Response: Staff agrees that engagement in regional research, and particularly the RBSA development, will be an important effort in 2021. Staff has increased the proposed budget allocation in this area to $60,000, which represents approximately 5 contract analyst days per month. This line item is to include not only engagement with the RBSA working group, but also other discussions with regional researchers about their work and the connection to RTF measure development.
- The concept of budget rollover is mentioned in a few places throughout the work plan, however it is unclear what specific amounts will be rolled over. Can the work plan clarify these amounts?
- Also, it is difficult to understand how much of the budget increase is a true increase vs. an increase that also accounts for rollover. Is it possible to differentiate?
- RTF Response: The agreed to funding for 2021 is $1,845,000. The additional $155,000 proposed is from rollover and carryover funds. Staff has attempted to provide greater clarity as to where these rollover/carryover funds are being applied. Staff has included a sentence within each section to speak to specific projects proposed for these funds. Additionally, there are comments in the ‘Category Detail (2021)’ tab identifying those funds and more detail provided on the ‘Funding Shares’ tab.
RTF Meeting Support
- With virtual meetings continuing likely well into next calendar year, we recommend reviewing this allocation of budget to see if funds can be reallocated to other areas of the work plan.
- RTF Response: Staff has reduced the meeting budget somewhat to reflect a potential mix of virtual and in person meetings. Staff will plan to track this line item throughout the year and reallocate those funds to other work areas as appropriate.
Subregional Market Analysis
- At this point in time, BPA is not supportive on dedicating funds to research sub-regional baselines. Before this work moves forward, we recommend a policy discussion and decision at the PAC level. Developing sub-regional baselines could have implications to measures and programs and could greatly increase complexity of measure offerings.
- RTF Response: Staff has not made a change to this proposed line item at this time. The proposed funding amount represents approximately 2 weeks of an analyst’s time and is intended to support an initial exploration into this topic based on some funder interest. Staff understands BPA’s concerns about the potential program implications and agrees that policy direction on how best to proceed would be fruitful. To that end, staff proposes that the 2021 funding in this area be used to do an initial exploration into potential paths for conducting sub-regional market analysis, including understanding of the data needs and potential considerations. This exploration would be used to inform a discussion with the RTF Policy Advisory Committee on whether and how to proceed on any future activity in this space.
Market Analysis Funding
- BPA is concerned that the current amount of allocated funding for the support of market analysis and the BPA expert panel may not be sufficient. BPA sees great value in CAT engagement on Momentum through the expert panels and would like the RTF to consider increasing budget allocation in this area to ensure sufficient support.
- RTF Response: Staff is proposing a slight increase to funds to this line item with total proposed funding representing around 7% of one analysts time. Staff agrees that there may be potential value in contract analyst engagement in BPA’s expert panel for momentum savings research, as the results of that analysis will help to inform RTF and regional baselines. There are limitations, however, to how much bandwidth is available for this work in 2021 due to the number of measures slated for development. Staff will continue to work with BPA and the rest of the funders to identify the best level of engagement for this work throughout the five-year funding period.