Author Archives: John Finnigan

What do the New Apple Watch and Home Energy Monitors have in Common?

apple watch lwyang flickrThe new Apple Watch, which went on sale last Friday, is attracting huge attention. Among many other features, the watch will monitor your health by tracking fitness and activity, like the Fitbit. In its first day on the market, nearly one million were sold.

The popularity of this wearable device speaks to a larger trend happening in technology that one might call “life tracking”: the ability to track, analyze, and hone your personal activities through the use of connected devices. From fitness to finance, technology like the Apple Watch is enabling more choice and efficiency than ever before. And, just as fitness wearables monitor our personal activity, other devices can monitor our home energy activity – leading to an array of cost-saving and environmental benefits.

Home energy monitors

The Nest thermostat is one of the most well-known home energy monitors. It learns how you like to set your home temperature, and then automatically programs itself to follow your patterns.

For example, if you work an office job and are away from home nine to ten hours a day, the Nest thermostat may cycle the air conditioner down to increase the home temperature a couple of degrees during the day while you’re gone, and then automatically reduce the temperature an hour or so before you return to re-establish your preferred home temperature. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Electricity Pricing, Smart Grid| Tagged | Comments are closed

Ohio Electricity Regulators Reject Bailout for Uneconomic Power Plants

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOhio’s clean energy economy celebrated a big win this week. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) denied American Electric Power Company’s (AEP) request for guaranteed profits to operate its aging, uneconomic coal power plants. EDF, along with many other parties, opposed AEP’s proposal.

EDF applauds the Commission for recognizing AEP’s proposal would not benefit Ohio residents and businesses. These old coal plants cost more to operate than the value of power they generate. Plus, they produce harmful greenhouse gas emissions which, if the plants continue to operate, would make it more difficult for Ohio to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan, which would set the first-ever limits on carbon emissions from existing power plants.

The Public Utilities Commission’s decision sends a clear message: power companies can no longer rest on their laurels. Clean energy businesses, entrepreneurs, investors, and Ohioans are ready for a new era – one in which utility profits are not placed ahead of Ohio’s best interests.

With gas prices low, an increased use of renewable energy, and weak demand resulting from customer energy efficiency improvements, some utilities like AEP are now burdened by their heavy reliance on coal – and looking to their customers to bail out their uneconomic power plants. Thankfully, yesterday’s decision assures that the market will remain competitive, giving clean energy resources an equal opportunity to compete with legacy fossil fuel plants. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Ohio| Tagged | Read 1 Response

Utility 2.0: “REVolutionizing” the Use of Distributed Energy Resources

new-york-city-105862_640New York opened its “Reforming the Energy Vision” (REV) proceeding earlier this year to re-examine the utility business model. As part of this proceeding, state regulators will also look into removing market barriers preventing greater deployment of distributed energy resources (DER), which are smaller-scale clean energy resources, such as energy efficiency, energy storage, and local, on-site generation.

In recent years, DERs have made great strides due to market reforms, advanced technologies, and declining costs. Despite these advances, DERs serve less than 1% of national electricity demand as the existing utility business model and regulatory policies still favor traditional electricity distribution from a centralized grid.

Though the REV proceeding is in its early stages, the Department of Public Service Staff (Staff) has provided guidance recommendations for eliminating these market barriers. Using the Staff’s filings, EDF has drafted a white paper that compiles a Top 20 list of the changes required before we will see greater use of DERs. If adopted, these recommendations would result in a sea change for incorporating DERs into New York’s electric system and would provide a template for other states to follow. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, New York, Smart Grid, Utility Business Models| Read 1 Response

Utility 2.0: New York Electricity Market Should Allow Third Parties to Compete

Source: Tendril

Source: Tendril

The New York Public Service Commission (Commission) has embarked on the landmark Reforming Energy Vision (REV) proceeding to design a new business model for electric utilities. Today’s business model allows utilities to earn revenues based on how much money they spend to supply and deliver electricity. Under the new model, utilities will earn revenues based on the value of services they deliver to customers and the environment.

Currently, utilities dominate the electricity service market, limiting customer access to the full range of products and services otherwise available in a truly open market. One focus of the proceeding is to remove the barriers preventing third parties, such as retail electric suppliers, solar energy companies, or smart meter providers, from fully participating in the energy market. Allowing full participation by third parties would lead to increased innovation and fuel the development of new products and services. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Electricity Pricing, Energy Efficiency, New York, Smart Grid, Utility Business Models| Read 1 Response

After 130 Years, New York Rethinks its Electric Utility Model

Source: Frank Edens Flickr

Source: Frank Edens Flickr

America’s electric grid has not been updated since World War II when telephones, dishwashers, and air conditioning were the cutting-edge technology innovations of the century.

Today, this same grid is struggling to cope with the technological advances of the last decade, a reality that hit home for New Yorkers in the wake of Superstorm Sandy when millions of people lost power for days and even weeks.

But New York is taking steps to change this. A proposal to overhaul the state’s utility business model could dramatically change how people interact with their power company.

It could bring in innovative technology to help homes and businesses better manage their own energy needs, while at the same time reduce carbon emissions – changes that would have national implications. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, New York, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid| Read 1 Response

EDF Weighs In on New York’s Bold Effort to Build a New Electric Utility Business Model

New York Skyline

Source: iStock

The U.S. electric grid has not been updated since World War II when telephones, dishwashers, and air conditioning were the cutting-edge technology innovations of the century. Today, this same grid is struggling to cope with the technological advances of the last decade, a reality that hit home for New Yorkers in the wake of Superstorm Sandy when millions of people lost power for days and even weeks.

But New York is taking steps to change this, first by initiating a proceeding in April to overhaul the state’s utility business model, and now by opening the proceeding to comments. EDF filed our comments (Track 1 and Track 2) in this case last Friday, July 18th, and commends the New York Public Service Commission for the opportunity to provide our input on this exceedingly important policy that will have national implications.

Humble beginnings

New York played a leading role in establishing today’s utility business model. Thomas Edison developed the first power plant on Pearl Street in Manhattan in 1882, serving 85 lighting customers. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Energy Efficiency, New York, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid, Utility Business Models| Comments are closed
  • About the author

    Senior Regulatory Attorney
    John Finnigan is the senior regulatory attorney for EDF’s US Climate and Energy Program, representing EDF before state public utility commissions on smart grid deployments and energy efficiency matters.

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