Author Archives: Rory Christian

Business is Ready for “Reforming the Energy Vision” in New York

By: Rory Christian and Jacob Robinson

REV Blog RevisedThe seventh annual Climate Week NYC has kicked off, and it's invigorating to reflect on the progress to date since last September when over 400,000 activists demanded bold climate action at the People's Climate March. During the last year, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has continued to observe and nourish the growing appetite among America’s business community to move together on carbon reduction. This movement should not be understated, especially as New York regulators continue to move forward with the “Reforming the Energy Vision” (REV) proceeding.

Outlined in a set of regulatory proceedings, in which EDF has been deeply embedded, this vision for a cleaner, more affordable energy future has the potential to spur innovation, modernize the electric grid, and transform the century-old electricity system as we know it. If done right, REV will prepare New York for a future in which clean distributed energy resources (DERs) – such as microgrids, rooftop solar, battery storage, energy efficiency, and other on-site energy options – will play an increasingly important role in how the state makes, moves, interacts with, and uses energy.

While it’s important that governments craft the clean energy rulebooks, leadership can and should also come from industry, as EDF’s Tom Murray urged earlier this year. Organizations across sectors are already paving the road for strong regulatory reform that values clean DERs and customer engagement. EDF’s own Climate Corps program is proof of this. But what New York’s business leaders really want is regulatory certainty that the clean energy investments they’re making now – or at least considering –will pay off once NY REV is implemented. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, EDF Climate Corps, General, New York, Utility Business Models| Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

Who Could Benefit Most from Fair Electricity Pricing? Low-Income Customers

new york city 2These are exciting times. New York’s ‘Reforming the Energy Vision’ (REV) has paved the way for change of unprecedented proportions. New York regulators are preparing the state for a future in which rooftop solar installations are ubiquitous and the rumbling staccato of gasoline-fueled automobiles is replaced by the relative silence of electric vehicles.

While more rooftop solar energy and electric vehicles are certainly part of our energy future, some of the biggest changes are likely to come from less visible – and less obvious – sources, particularly for customers in densely populated metropolitan areas and low-income customers, who make up a significant portion of New York state’s customer base.

Urban dwellers, for whom mass transit is a central part of daily life and owning your own rooftop is less common, may view electric cars, rooftop solar, wind, battery storage, and on-site energy generation as appealing, but also abstractions more suitable for upstate homeowners than those living in crowded apartment buildings.

For these customers, the opportunity to contribute to a clean energy future will be guided largely by the domain of Adam Smith’s invisible hand: economic forces that enable greater control over how much energy is used and at what price. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid, Utility Business Models| Comments are closed

Amid Global Efforts, New York Plants Seeds for Energy Reform in 2014 That Will Bloom in 2015

2015_new_yearIn the future, when we look back on 2014, I believe it will be remembered as the tipping point for climate action. In the Northeast, we’ll remember the devastating early-season snowstorm that caused over a dozen deaths. In the Southwest, many will remember the third-straight year of a drought that seems without end. And, nationally, many will remember 2014 as one of the hottest years in recorded history – the hottest since 2010 and the 11th time the record for hottest year has been set since 1998.

In a year punctuated by extreme weather across the country and the globe, 2014 will also be remembered as the year when seeds of coordinated global action to address climate change first took root. The federal Clean Power Plan, the Lima Climate Agreement, the United Nations Climate Summit, and the U.S.-China Climate Accord, among other major milestones, all highlight the growing awareness and importance of taking action to address climate change. Though many view these events as tentative first steps, they are nonetheless steps in the right direction.

Action at the national level has been long overdue and support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which would set the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants, is borne from decades of work at the local level. The historical absence of a broader national agenda has spurred cities and states to act on their own, and local authorities are continuing to make significant, innovative strides forward. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, New York, Smart Grid, Utility Business Models| Read 3 Responses

Utility 2.0: NY Utility Regulators Should Consider Change to “Formula for Success”

Source: Daniel Schwen, Wikimedia Commons

Source: Daniel Schwen, Wikimedia Commons

Acquire more customers, sell more electricity. This primary formula has fueled the runaway success of utility companies in America, as well as the rest of the world, for well over a hundred years.

But today, in an era when customers are technologically savvy, price conscious, and environmentally aware, more families are pursuing opportunities that will cut electricity bills and carbon emissions. Options once considered fringe, like installing rooftop solar panels and driving electric cars, are now becoming so mainstream that utilities everywhere are seeing their bottom lines crunched and even fear for their survival. The electricity sector needs a new formula that can account for these changes, while still providing reliable, safe, and affordable electricity for all.

As a result of increased energy efficiency and heavier reliance on local, distributed energy resources, it’s clear our country is moving toward a reality in which less electricity will come from centralized, fossil fuel power plants. At the same time, customers want utilities to continue providing basic electricity services while allowing them to benefit from new energy-efficient solutions and clean technologies in order to waste less electricity and generate our own power.

How will this be possible? A key first step is moving away from the existing regulatory paradigm, which rewards utilities for investing in more power stations and equipment, to a model that rewards utilities for the performance we seek today. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, New York, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid, Utility Business Models| Tagged | Read 9 Responses

Can New York Beat California in the Clean Energy Race?

Source: Martineric/Flickr

Source: Martineric/Flickr

This post was adapted from an op-ed piece published in Morning Consult.

New York doesn’t have California’s sunshine or Texas’ wind. But it has a vision and willpower that is quickly turning the Empire State into a leader for clean energy solutions.

In the year and a half since the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy, New York Gov. Cuomo has appointed strong leadership and devoted large-scale investment to develop a resilient energy infrastructure that can withstand the extreme weather events brought on by climate change.

And the state is now digging into a major evaluation of how energy is produced, distributed, and priced – while ramping up funding for renewable energy. Read More »

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

New York Among the First States to Re-Evaluate its Utility Regulatory Framework

By Doc Searls via Wikimedia Commons

By Doc Searls via Wikimedia Commons

For most people, thinking about electricity is confined to two possible events: the arrival of the monthly bill and when the power goes out. The fact that most people don’t think about their electricity outside these two events — and let’s hope the latter is infrequent — is a testament to the robust regulation that has shaped the structure of the electric grid.

But cracks are forming that threaten the very foundation of the existing regulatory compact between utilities and customers. Extreme weather events caused by climate change and evolving consumer trends are testing the viability of the electricity system. The regulations that were crucial for maintaining stability in the 20th century are now forming barriers that make it difficult for utilities to adapt for a future that is fast approaching. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid, Utility Business Models| Read 3 Responses
  • Director, New York Clean Energy
    Rory Christian is EDF's Director of Clean Energy Initiatives for the New York region, where he focuses on energy and clean air. Rory currently leads EDF’s work scoping smart grid development in New York City and other high density urban settings, developing opportunities for financing energy projects and the NYC clean heat campaign.

    Follow Rory on Twitter »

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    EDF Energy Exchange - Accelerating the clean energy revolution

    EDF's energy experts discuss how to accelerate the transition to a clean, low-carbon energy economy.

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